Dinosaurs For The Win: my review of jurassic world

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So it’s been a few busy months since I’ve been to the bigscreen, but my wife, sister-in-law and myself went out for a sort of three-way/family movie date together last night and, of course, we saw Jurassic World.

I warn you now, that there may be some SPOILERS, but I’m going to do my best not to ruin the whole movie for you and try to just discuss spoilery things about formatting or that were really obviously going to happen in this type of movie.

From the outset, I was expecting some awesome cinematography and CGI with a pretty predictable plot. I expected to be wowed and thrilled but know that ultimately, there’s going to be some case where people were overconfident in their ability to control an uncontrollable dinosaur that would terrorise the place, specifically terrorise a motley family of protagonists, eat and/or kill a villain figure motivated by greed or some sort of selfish, self-serving goal but not our protagonists, and ultimately be defeated by either human cunning or sheer dumb luck/deus ex machina.

Now most of those expectations were accurate in one way or another, but unless you’ve never seen a Jurassic Park film, you’re probably also expecting each of those things right along with me when you walk in. Some of things that surprised me in awesome ways are as follows-

The Animatronics. I erringly supposed that since we’ve gotten so very good at it now, CGI would be used wholly and completely to create the dinosaurs and their movements and whatnot. But there were several scenes where animatronic dinosaurs were still used, and while it was one of my wife’s pet peeves about the movie (that it looked less realistic than the CGI) I was more than impressed by the level of detail and subtlety of lifelike movement, especially in one particularly moving scene. Those of you who have already seen the film will know which one I’m talking about.

Chris Pratt. We all know Chris Pratt is hilarious, and honestly I thought his key role in the film would make the movie less than serious, which, after Guardians Of The Galaxy, I was totally on board for. I was all ready for it to be a movie all about Starlord. But it wasn’t. He wasn’t even in the first twenty minutes of the film! I literally even got to thinking that I must have somehow been mistaken or that the media must have overblown his role in the film, that’s how long it took him to appear on screen. And when he finally did, he wasn’t a funny character at all! What was going on here? This wasn’t the movie I was promised! But I kept watching and discovered that no, the whole first scene is about establishing how serious, capable, brave and caring his character is, and it worked beautifully. And then, his only funny line in that whole scene occurs as he’s walking off screen at the end, reassuring the audience that he will be funny later, and of course he is, but his main job in this film is hero. And that was awesome! I was so confident in his ability for the rest of the film.

Visually Awesome ‘Wow’ Moments. Now I’m not necessarily talking about cinematographically captivating and beautiful wonders per se, but more what Howard Tayler refers to in his comic process. Most of these are related to turns or twists in the story, and though you could see most of them coming moments before, they were all sooo satisfying! Like the moment where Bryce Dallas Howard, who has been an impetuous and mostly non-competent character until this point, hair askew and clothes torn and completely dishevelled, shoots a gnashing pteradon off Chris Pratt with his own shotgun! And then if that wasn’t wow enough, you know they’re going to kiss, and it’s cliche, but when they do, the little sentimentalist inside each of us jumps for joy. And then that kiss is used as set up for a joke later in the film! Such awesome! I’m not going to talk about the dinosaur-related wow moments because I don’t want to spoil too much, but just know, that there’s awesome to be had, and most of them were foreshadowed brilliantly.

Now, a few brief criticisms of the film. I think that while most of the set-up delivered beautifully, I found the characters a little one-dimensional. And that’s not because of the writing at all, because they continue to develop three-dimensionality throughout the film. I think my problem is one-third delivery and two-thirds character tropes. Though the characters often seem to have a life outside the story, there were a few specific moments where I felt they were doing what they were doing because the story needed to, and that felt a little hollow and brought me out at times. The film usually got me quickly back in, because I’m pretty good at suspending my disbelief, but still, I think those few moments, and one other wow moment that was only foreshadowed (as far as I could tell) by the previous films, were let-downs. The one other let-down was that one of the villain characters didn’t die like I thought they would, but I guess that’s potential for another sequel right there.

Still, I recommend the film to thriller/action/survival film lovers out there everywhere, and from a more general entertainment perspective, it did intersperse the action and thrilling moments with nicely timed modern humour, so the insistent humorists among you will enjoy it too. I give the film four raptors out of five.

On a more personal note, my actual favourite moment of the film was when I realised I now know enough about three-act format and filmic structure that I could spot each act as it changed. Win for me!

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