After 14 years, the latest installment of the Jurassic Park series has finally arrived, and the result injects life into the long dormant franchise.
There have been a variety of responses leading up to the release of Jurassic World. I have been more eager for this blockbuster than for any other summer film, excepting Mad Max: Fury Road. While most of the expectations voiced have been hopeful, there have been some notable worries about the new film. One of these worries stands out in my mind as particularly relevant.
Since the release of Jurassic Park in 1993, the films have had a variety of themes, but one has remained steadfast throughout the series: the idea of hubris. Hubris in this context refers to man’s pride and the folly in trying to bring nature under control. The films have been devoid of real antagonists, and instead focus on the struggle to survive. Sure the dinosaurs are the source of conflict and struggle, but they are only animals following their instincts. From what the trailers for Jurassic World present, there appears to be a departure from this focus.
In pursuit of a crowd-drawing spectacle, the mad scientists behind the scenes of dino theme park Jurassic World decide to unveil a new dinosaur, a genetically modified amalgamation of prehistoric predatory beasts and modern animals. What they create proves to be more than its creators can handle and it soon begins to wreak havoc on other dinosaurs and the park at large, becoming a sort of villain.
Admittedly, the idea of Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle through the jungle leading an attack team of trained raptors seems cringe-worthy and ridiculous. However, I want to lay fellow cinephiles’ minds to rest and reassure them that the result is not as bad as they may fear.
Now, while some of the qualms are realized, the actual focus on man’s hubris is still very much addressed. Even though one of the dinosaurs is now playing the role of primary antagonist, its existence is due to man’s arrogance. Just like in Jurassic Park, the pursuit of financial gain has led to irresponsible genetic splicing that creates the threat to the protagonists. Their own incipient demise is the result of foolish pride and greed.
Even the creation of “trained attack raptors” stems from the arrogant belief that man can subdue natural forces to his will and in this case use them for military purposes. I do not think I am spoiling anything by revealing that this does not go according to plan.
It’s true that the role of the dinosaurs is altered significantly in this newest installment, but considering the disappointments that were the second and third movies we can say that Jurassic World really is quite good. The lack of cheesy, forced relationship development and the critical eye towards cocky, money-hungry humans is particularly reminiscent of Jurassic Park.
That’s not to say there was nothing worth criticizing. Various plot holes and overdone clichés no doubt detract from the experience. Unexplained relationships and motivations sometimes take the viewer out of the film and campy elements leave room for improvement. However, the mistakes pale overall in comparison to the tale of man’s hubris and inability to tame or understand forces beyond his ken.
Visually, the movie was spectacular. Scenic landscape shots and colorful constructions create a striking visual palate. The CGI that made the original Jurassic Park so groundbreaking is again beautiful and creates a unique mise en scène. While the technical elements are not as revolutionary as the first film, Jurassic World does a much better job than previous sequels at honoring the original.
Admittedly, as a huge Chris Pratt fan I went into the movie willing to overlook mistakes because I wanted to see Andy Dwyer play with dinosaurs. Pawnee shoeshiner notwithstanding, the film surpassed my moderate expectations. Spectacular deaths and action sequences place this film on par with some of the best summer blockbusters to date, and familiar plot points as well as stunning visual construction make it one of the better box office hits of the year. The creators of Jurassic World have got to be pleased with earning $208.8 million domestically on the opening weekend, overtaking the record set by The Avengers.