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Jurassic World

Just got back from seeing Jurassic World (Also have seen Mad Max: Fury Road (FINALLY!) and Slow West. I'll try to have reviews for those by the end of the week). This time the park is open, and with it comes the 21st century where dinosaurs are now so common place, that kids prefer to look at their phones. (a quirky idea and an interesting one although a bit hard to swallow at the same time). The film stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as the park's raptor trainer and operations manager respectfully as well as Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins as the nephews of Howard's character who must get out of the park when its newest creation, the Indominus Rex, a genetic hybrid of several different animals breaks free. This storyline is fairly creative as it allows for exploration of certain sci-fi themes like genetic splicing as well as progressing the themes slightly from the original film with the raptors being trained and possibly becoming weapons of war. At the same time , it also brought up the "mad scientist"/Frankenstein kind of theme with B.D. Wong's Dr. Henry Wu as well but doesn't do anything real fresh with it (unless that's planned for a sequel) (It may just be personal preference speaking too but I didn't really like the way they went with Wu's character but I think that's because I preferred how he was portrayed in the first film and keep thinking of Wong's portrayal of Shang in Mulan). Character-wise, the film is a bit of mess. The most complete and fairly effective arcs are Bryce Dallas Howard's character and Vincent D'onofrio's character who plays his role with glee (honestly, why doesn't the dude have an Oscar nomination yet?) even though I pretty much knew what was going to happen. The nephews' character arcs kind of bounce around a bit in the beginning with the older brother being the stupid stereotypical teenage boy who only likes to listen to music and look at girls (yeah yeah, I know that's a part of real life but its a stupid overused part of real life) and the mother says he's a bit mean to his brother but I never saw that part of his character) but wrap up pretty well in the end, although the younger brother's intelligence never sank in with me as much as Tim's did from the first movie. The CEO of the park's character even bounces around a bit with him sometimes being a smart likable guy to making some pretty stupid decisions. Chris Pratt as Owen, while not necessarily having an arc was still quite charismatic and likable, and its those things plus his confidence and old fashioned bravado that I think make him a great actor and a fun one to follow, including in this film. He and the other actors do have some good chemistry as there were some good laughs and touching moments as well. There's even a quirky funny control room guy who throughout the movie was giving some hilarious rather intelligent commentary on what was going on. Visually, the park itself is amazing and creatively a lot of fun. I'd definitely want to visit this place if I could. It was a bit strange though as this turned out to be one of the more emotional and darker films in the Jurassic Park series whereas the other three were focused on suspense and tension while being fairly light with the character personalities but that mixed with the familiarity of character arcs from the other ones in this one made the tone feel a bit off. One of the biggest problems that I had with the film and another element that makes Jurassic World darker is that innocent people are attacked and killed including a side character who is given literally no personally or character depth at all who is viciously drowned and eaten, and she happens to be female, the first ever female death in a Jurassic Park movie. (Yes I know innocent people have been attacked/killed in the Jurassic Park films before but those worked a bit better because they were individual kills that set the tone of the film really well like the opening of the first one, amplified the terror of the situation like the T-Rex in San Diego in The Lost World, or gave some added weight to the characters like Jurassic Park III and while I get they were going in a new direction and trying to keep things fresh by showing the tourists bandaged up and scared as a way of telling the corporate heads, "You see? Stuff like this is going to happen if you keep doing this!", the fact that it was a large group of people with kids just didn't sit right with me tonally (maybe I'm just a big softie/too sensitive. I don't know). Finally, there are a few fun visual callbacks to the original film that were done in a creative way but at the same time, with all the problems I was having with the film, it ended up being one of those kind of sequels where it was making me miss and wanting to watch the original. Which is a shame because Jurassic World is directed by Colin Trevorrow who directed the wonderful sci-fi romantic comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, a film I highly recommend. Overall, there were a lot of elements that bugged me but that's possibly because I wasn't in the right mood and or I had nostalgia goggles on from the first three films. There are a lot of good creative elements, the actors work well together and are charismatic, the story has some interesting sci-fi themes, and the final fight is quite awesome and if those sound good to you, I definitely say see it. I may have to see again myself but for right now, I personally give it a 2.8 out of 5.

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