I remember walking into the theater 22 years ago and being blown away by Jurassic Park by both the story and the technology. Sure, you had dinosaurs chasing people, eating people, terrorizing people but there was an actual story and an honest attempt to explore a myriad of moral dilemmas. What is the line between entertainment and science? Commerce and research? Should we experiment in the field of genetic engineering? Of course, it asked those questions in the context of creating dinosaurs but it was the ’90s and the world was consumed with the morality of making test tube babies so it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see the parallels.
Fast forward to 2014 and Jurassic World has basically obliterated all movie records and people are flocking to see it. How does it stack up? The good news – it’s about a million times better than The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2 and the train wreck that was called Jurassic Park 3. The bad news…it doesn’t match the original. In fact…it feels like all they try to do was update the technology, add in a sea dinosaur and cast some younger actors.
In Jurassic World geneticists have filled in the missing DNA of dinosaurs with other animals (just like Jurassic Park), they created a new dinosaur (didn’t do that in Jurassic Park) consequences are more far-reaching than they expected (just like Jurassic Park), they’ve underestimated their own control of the situation (just like Jurassic Park), and the result of all of this is a bunch of dinosaurs eating people (just like Jurassic Park).
What is missing is the sarcastic voice of reason of Dr. Ian Malcolm played brilliantly by Jeff Goldblum. And instead of Richard Attenborough as the positive force of destruction we get two characters – Irrfan Khan (from Life of Pi) and the all-dressed-in-white Bryce Dallas Howard. Neither of their characters are particularly endearing and it’s arguable how much they actual help the story. Howard’s character “Aunt Clair” is probably the most vital of the two as she is both the distant aunt and the love interest. But that’s not saying much.
The moral questions aren’t as heavy or predominant in Jurassic World. The issue is still pitted within the context of making money and entertaining the crowd. It’s in these scenes where Dr. Ian Malcolm is sorely missed.
It’s clear from the outset that Jurassic World aims to entertain and that it does. The pace is fast, the filming is classic Spielberg – action, humor, action, action, humor, action, guy gets girl in the end. And it works.
It’s not going to win any Oscars – maybe in the special effects department. It’s not going to be a ‘cult classic’ that sparks global debate on the morality of genetic engineering.
But it is fun. It’s complete eye candy and on the whole better than what I expected.