The 1993 movie Jurassic Park was about a theme park with live resurrected dinosaurs that became a disaster when the dinosaurs get loose and terrorize the park staff and their families touring it before the park’s opening to the public. You would think that, following those events, the idea would be forever scrapped, and we would never have a Jurassic Park sequel with a brand new dinosaur theme park. Yet, 22 years later, we have the 2015 movie Jurassic World, featuring a dinosaur park that is not only far grander than its predecessor, but also fully functioning and open to the public. Even with this dramatic improvement in the setting, one question still remains. Is Jurassic World simply a rehash of Jurassic Park, but with a much greater film budget?
Before we discuss that, let’s take a look at the features of Jurassic World. As the first 20 minutes of the movie show us, visitors take a boat to the island where the park lies, then ride a monorail that runs through the park’s double-door entrance to the ticketing area. From there, visitors can check out holographic dinosaur exhibits, buy merchandise at nearby gift shops, and view the laboratories where scientists are creating dinosaurs. They can also watch a show where a giant aquatic dinosaur leaps out of the water to catch its food, splashing everyone in the process, and ride spherical vehicles called gyroscopes along grasslands where dinosaurs are roaming. And for families with little kids, they’ll definitely enjoy the area where children can ride small dinosaurs like baby stegosaurses. If Jurassic World were a real theme park, heck, I’d pay to go visit, too.
Now here’s the really amazing part. Remember how Jurassic Park in 1993 had dinosaurs because they used preserved dinosaur DNA to bring them back to life? Well, Jurassic World takes it a step further. They don’t just resurrect the dinosaurs. They employ advanced DNA modification techniques to produce artificial dinosaur DNA and give the dinosaurs a variety of new features. This is ultimately a marketing ploy, because people today are no longer impressed by the dinosaurs presented traditionally in schools and museums, such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex. If they are going to be impressed, they’ll have to see dinosaurs that are bigger, meaner, smarter, and otherwise more impressive than any dinosaur that lived up to 65 million years ago. Hence, the Jurassic World scientists are constantly creating new dinosaur DNA sequences.
And that, of course, is where the problem lies. Despite tall thick walls, massive gates, and other means of keeping dinosaurs safely enclosed, one dinosaur manages to escape. While there is a paramilitary team serving as the park’s Asset Containment Unit, it might not be well matched against this beast. So yeah, this is definitely a frightening situation, especially for staff members in Jurassic World’s control room who are horrified as they watch real-time maps of every dinosaur’s location and live footage from various cameras. And remember, this isn’t Jurassic Park where disaster strikes before the park’s grand opening. This is Jurassic World that is already open to over 20,000 visitors at one time. That’s a lot of potential human prey.
So who are the main characters in the middle of this mess? The one who is perhaps the center of this is Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (the daughter of director Ron Howard). She is a Jurassic World executive who focuses on the business aspects of the park, like profits and publicity. She is also the aunt of two boys named Gray and Zach (played by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, respectively), whose mother allows them to visit Jurassic World and trusts that her sister Claire would be with them at all times. Unfortunately, Claire chooses to give the boys VIP passes and let them wander on their own while she focuses on running the park, a move that ultimately puts her nephews in danger.
Meanwhile, one character knows about dinosaurs up close and personal. Owen, played by Chris Pratt, is someone I like to call a dinosaur zookeeper, a guy whose job duties include feeding dinosaurs and training them to be docile. You would think that this guy would not survive long in this job. But interestingly enough, the dinosaurs do not always try to kill him. That’s because he helps take care of them since birth and eventually develops a relationship of trust with the dinosaurs, such that he could calm them down with just the right body gestures. Even if the dinosaurs still look like they could kill him, he has another positive trait: he understands the behavior of dinosaurs better than anyone in Jurassic World. Overall, Owen is virtually the opposite of Claire. Speaking of contrasting characters, there is also the head of security named Hoskins (played by Vincent D’Onofrio), who is the villain of this movie because he is obsessed with the idea of using dinosaurs for military purposes.
In a nutshell, the action scenes in Jurassic World are pretty good. Are they as good as those in Jurassic Park from 1993? I would say close but not quite. The 1993 movie was amazing because the special effects were groundbreaking at the time, and they are designed to truly terrify the audience. Remember the scene in Jurassic Park where two kids are trapped in an upside-down tour vehicle while a T-Rex is destroying it, all during a rainy night? That’s a terrifying scene. Jurassic World has a similar kind of scene where Gray and Zach are trapped in a gyroscope being destroyed by a dinosaur. This scene is gripping, but given that it takes place in the daytime and CGI special effects in this kind of movie are standard nowadays, it’s not necessarily terrifying. But it’s still good.
This brings us back to the question I posed above. Is Jurassic World simply a rehash of Jurassic Park? I would say the answer is no. The only real similarities between the two movies that I noticed were the vehicle destruction scene I just described, the presence of a villain, and the core premise of a dinosaur theme park disaster. That’s it. Otherwise, the rest of Jurassic World does not look or feel too similar to anything in Jurassic Park. After all, you got one human character who understands dinosaurs, scientists who do more than just resurrect dinosaurs, and a theme park that is fully functional with a variety of support staff and thousands of park visitors. Each of those things lends itself to situations not seen in Jurassic Park. Any time a sequel takes itself in new directions, I tend to nod approvingly.
In conclusion, Jurassic World is a pretty good sequel to Jurassic Park. Fans of Jurassic Park might have fun spotting references to that movie in Jurassic World, but it’s not necessary to watch Jurassic Park in order to enjoy Jurassic World. I think JW works equally well as a sequel for those who have seen JP and as a stand-alone film for those who have not seen JP. Now, will Jurassic World itself have a sequel? I would think not, but given that Jurassic Park managed to be followed by Jurassic World and how Hollywood always cooks up ways to make sequels for specific movies, don’t be surprised if another Jurassic movie, whatever will be called, will come along. I don’t care what that movie will be about, as long as it doesn’t involve humans going extinct and dinosaurs ruling Earth once again.
Anthony’s Rating: 8/10