Nostalgia is an interesting thing, because even flawed movies can become beloved given enough time. Jurassic Park was not perfect movie, and I think a lot of people are forgetting that it wasn't universally praised upon release. Of course 22 years ago, despite those flaws, I was just at the right age to absolutely love it.
So now that we have a real attempt at a sequel, and not just another cash grab, how does it hold up to the original? Honestly, pretty damn well.
There was a certain respect for Jurassic Park running throughout this movie. Not just in little visual homages, but in direct references to the events of the first film. There were also some tonal elements and plot symmetry that married nicely with the original film. The same things don't happen in the same way, but there are echoes of events that make it feel like the lessons that should have been learned from that first colossal failure just didn't quite sink in.
Oddly enough, for a big visual event movie like this, the first real substantive thing I'd like to mention are the characters, both human and dinosaur. The four main leads were all likeable and easy to sympathize with. Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire) probably had the hardest job, making the corporate suit character into a human being. She mostly pulled it off, and by the end of the film I was rooting for her.
Chris Pratt (Owen) was equally engaging as the animal trainer with his own pack of Raptors. He basically came across as a badass from his first scene all the way though the film. Even the other characters treated him as the go-to guy to depend on when the inevitable clusterf*ck started up. Still, despite some minor misogyny, he worked well as the hero. The most interesting part of the character was his relationship with the Raptors, which I won't spoil here.
The kids were not annoying at all, despite the pretty basic background and interpersonal conflicts they had to work through before the fit hits the shan. They even proved to be resourceful and intelligent throughout the crisis, without having to have their hands held through the worst of their struggles. I would have liked their story to have a bit more depth and resolution, but perhaps it wasn't really necessary.
There were also some notable secondary characters. BD Wong returned as the only actor to reprise his role from the original Jurassic Park, as Dr. Henry Wu. Vincent D'Onofrio's character didn't really work for me, because his performance was a bit over the top and the character was one-dimensional. Irrfan Khan played the owner of Jurassic World, basically the new Hammond character. He wasn't quite as lovable as Hammond, but he was fun and light-hearted, and gave us a vastly different take on the 'man with a dream' character.
Lastly and probably most importantly, the dinosaurs. I should probably start with the Indominus Rex, the literal big bad of the movie. She is built up really well, and she totally works on screen fully revealed. I'm not entirely sure if she was as successful as the Raptors in the original, but she was beautifully animated, and very well thought out as this giant primal monster.
The Raptors also played a big part in the movie, and there was some actual personality going on there too. From subtle close up facials expressions, grunts, growls, and chirps, they really came alive. The rest of the dinosaurs were also just awesome to look at, including a scene with my childhood favorite, the Ankylosaurus.
It was genuinely cool to see Hammond's dream come alive. Just as a visual, getting to see what Jurassic Park might have been like if it had been successful, got to me a little. Especially when paired with John Williams' iconic theme music.
The female lead Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) goes through the entire movie in high heels. This was addressed a couple of times, but it never seemed to be an issue for the character.
There were two comic relief characters in the control room of the park, and they mostly worked to break up the tension a bit. Though I'm not sure they were needed, especially given the film's run-time of over two hours.
This wasn't mentioned in the movie itself, but in an interview with someone behind the scenes, they confirmed that the T-Rex that appears in Jurassic World is the same T-Rex character from the original Jurassic Park.
There was some very clear set up for a potential sequel.
I didn't love this one, but I liked it a whole lot. I think this is the first worthy sequel to Jurassic Park.
3 out of 4 Trained Raptors
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.