SPOILERS! SPOILERS! I’M GONNA SPOIL THE WHOLE MOVIE HERE SO IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS YOU’D BETTER HOOF IT!
Jurassic World was absolutely perfect. It was everything I wanted, everything I expected and more. This is post is gonna ramble and I apologize, but I just saw one of my favorite movies of all time and I’ve just come down from a two-hour-long, continuous scream. Bear with me.
The basic structure of the movie is that Zach and Gray’s parents are getting a divorce, so they send the boys to the island for a last fun vacation. They expect Claire to watch them, but she says hello to them and then leaves them with Zara, who couldn’t care less. Claire shows Masrani the I. rex exhibit and we find out that I. rex has been trying to break out of her cage, and she’s succeeded in puncturing the glass. Owen, meanwhile, is showing people how well he’s trained the (still lethal, still scary) raptors, and Hoskins tries to convince him to let him use the raptors in combat, but Owen refuses. Claire goes to get Owen and takes him to the I. rex paddock, where they see scratches on the side of the paddock and think I. rex has escaped. Claire goes to the control room while Owen goes inside the paddock, but she finds out that I. rex has just camouflaged and she’s still in the pen with Owen. I. rex chases Owen out and makes her way into the jungle, where the ACUs go after them and are immediately eaten. The control room crew starts to evacuate the island and Hoskins brings his private ACU force in. During this, Zach and Gray are going through the park and end up in the Gyrosphere, where Claire sees them on a security camera and goes out after them, grabbing Owen on the way. The boys escape the I. rex in the restricted zone and make their way through the park, where they go through the old visitors’ center and drive an old Jeep back to the main park. Claire and Owen follow after them through the Gyrosphere Valley and the old visitors’ center, and they make it back to the park shortly after. I. rex attacks Claire and Owen in the Jeep shed and then gets to the aviary, where it lets out the pteranodon flock and the Main Street attack begins.
Claire, Owen and the boys meet up, the pteranodon attack comes and goes and then they get to the raptor paddock, where Hoskins tells them that he and his crew are using the raptors to hunt down the I. rex whether Owen and Barry are involved or not. They decide to get involved, and while Claire takes the boys out in the Mobile Veterinary Unit, Owen and Barry set the raptors out and get them to look for the I. rex in the jungle. Once they find their target, though, I. rex speaks to them in their raptor language and they follow her instructions. Owen and Hoskins’ force try to regain control of the raptors, but only Blue shows any passing loyalty to Owen and one of them– Echo, I think– gets blown up. Blue and Charlie attack Claire and the boys in the MVU and once everyone makes it back to the park, they try to get to the control room. While all of this was happening, Hoskins’ men were taking over the park and the rest of the staff evacuated, all except for Lowery. Wu tried to preserve as much of their equipment and eggs as he could, and then jumped on a helicopter and said something about making a “deal” with Hoskins involving embryos. The main group makes it to the visitors’ center but stops at the Creation Lab, and when they find Wu’s lab, they meet Hoskins. Hoskins says he’s having his people take embryos off the island and is shortly eaten by Charlie. The group goes outside, where the raptors almost attack them; Owen has a moment with them and they decide to side with him.
I. rex shows up and tries to take control of the raptors, but they aren’t having it and they try to attack her. While Blue is incapacitated, Charlie and Raptor I Think Is Delta jump on I. rex and make a valiant effort to take her down, but Charlie gets thrown onto a fiery grill and Probably Delta just gets flung away and presumably dies. While this fight goes on, Claire stops protecting the boys and decides to let Rexy out of her pen as a last-ditch effort. Rexy gets out and faces I. rex… and the final fight deserves a section of its own, so I’ll get to it later.
Now for my personal opinions. First of all, the CGI. Oh, the CGI. It had a couple of rough spots– one shot of the raptors running from behind looked like it came from an arcade game– but the rest of it was beautiful. The shots we saw in the trailers were completely cleaned up and for the most part, every single animal looked completely real. There must have been a good animatronic for I. rex’s head in particular, because every time you see it up close, it looks very, very real. Visually, the whole movie was interesting; different lighting was played with a lot, a lot of work obviously went into the sets (Wu’s lab was amazing) and a couple of scenes were set up in really good ways, such as the final fight and Rexy coming out of her kingdom. (I’ll get to both of those in a minute.)
The characters were great as well. Obviously the movie wasn’t focused entirely on developing the main characters before they showed any dinosaurs, but we still got a bit of valuable time to know them. The movie did indeed begin and end with Claire. Owen did a couple of stunts and Raptor Whispered through a lot of the action scenes, but Claire had the most character development by far. She went from being a pretty neglectful and distant parent (well, aunt, but there always has to be a neglectful parent in these movies and she took over that role) in the first scene where she meets the boys, to a mother bear who would do anything to protect them. Ultimately, she ends up saving the day by releasing Rexy, and in a nice turn of events, she saves Owen. Yes, that’s right. During the Main Street attack scene– which was phenomenal– a dimorphodon jumps on Owen and starts trying to rip him apart. And to the sounds of the movie audience absolutely losing their minds, Claire shoots the dimorphodon off him and they kiss. Owen was a good character as well– he was very serious and a completely separate entity from Chris Pratt– and he had his moments as well as being a total bada** pretty much all of the time, but he really took a back seat to Claire when he wasn’t working together with her.
Speaking of which, the romantic chemistry was perfectly understated. The romance angle was barely even there, but when it was there, it was perfect. Claire and Owen share a couple of meaningful looks, they kiss once, they walk off together at the end and Claire smiles when Gray calls Owen her boyfriend. Other than the notorious bungalow scene (which actually did make sense in context) that’s it. Just like Ellie and Alan in the first movie, it’s realistically understated and totally believable, and Claire doesn’t turn into a damsel in distress at any point. (Seriously though, I cannot emphasize what an amazing character Claire is. She’s got guts, she’s strong and sure of herself and she turns out to be a great hero.) As for the rest of the characters, they were a mixed bag. Zach and Gray were likeable (Gray is a little genius cutie pie and Zach redeems himself after being a typical annoying teenager in his first scenes) and believable as brothers and their scenes together were sweet, although a tiny bit forced. I’d had the impression that they would drift closer throughout the entire movie like Claire and Owen, but as soon as Zach sees Gray crying while they’re on the monorail to Gyrosphere Valley, he goes instantly from “Ugh, get off me, you twerp” to “Aww, I love you baby brother, I won’t let anything bad happen to you”. Well, whatever, it was still sweet.
Lowery was a very cool character indeed. He had just the right amount of screen time; he said what he needed to say and then reappeared exactly when he was needed. He’s the only person who stays on the island after everyone else evacuates (and tries to kiss Vivian before she leaves, but she rejects him and it’s pretty funny) and he helps Claire release Rexy. He has a couple of witty lines and he’s obviously supposed to be some sort of Malcolm stand-in (he has a line about his cluttered desk being a living system on the edge of collapse), and although that doesn’t quite go through, he ends up getting some sort of unique character of his own. On that note, Malcolm made a kinda-sorta cameo! He wasn’t a hologram and didn’t show up on TV or anything, but Lowery keeps the book God Creates Dinosaurs on his desk and in one shot, you can clearly see Malcolm posing on the back cover. (Nobody else in the theater knew why I screeched when I saw the book, but I knew. I knew.) Lowery wasn’t a spectacular character, but he made his own mark on the movie and stood out.
Henry Wu has about 5 or 6 total minutes of screen time, but he made the most of them. He survives– he evacuates via helicopter. He shows up in the first scene where Claire is giving a tour to some investors and has a particularly dramatic scene with Masrani. Masrani comes into the lab after I. rex demolishes the ACUs and threatens to shut the whole operation down because Wu added in some unexpected genes to I. rex’s genetic code (no one knew the complete code since it was classified, and the raptor and cuttlefish DNA are presented as surprises since no one knew about them except Wu), and Wu argues that Masrani was the one who wanted him to make a huge predator in the first place. He put forth a really admirable performance for the part he was given. And as for Masrani, he was a bit morally ambiguous but good overall. He was basically Hammond with a bad-boy streak (he does indeed drive his helicopter like a maniac) and wanted to preserve the park and focus on making it a place full of wonder. Unfortunately, his dream was never realized, as he died in the helicopter crash into the aviary. Yep, he dies halfway through the movie on a sorta heroic note. Gotta say I did not see that coming.
If I had to pick the worst character and/ or acting job (and this is comparatively the worst; the movie was very, very well-acted) it would definitely be Vic Hoskins. He’s very punchable, sure (and Owen decks him at one point, to more audience cheers) but we don’t hate him. We don’t really, really want to see him die like we do with Ludlow. He does a pretty terrible thing when he takes advantage of the I. rex situation to further his own plan, and he does have a nice villain speech in Wu’s lab right before he gets eaten, but it’s not very cathartic when he dies. He still does a good job, but not as good as everyone else.
Now for what we’re all here for– the dinosaurs. As I said, the CGI was excellent and I have a few pointed comments to make when people who complained about the first trailer’s CGI see the movie. I. rex is very cool, very deadly and very scary, and she provides some pretty good jump-scares and suspense. She could even be too intelligent and cool– she speaks perfect raptor language right off the bat (at least she didn’t communicate with the pteranodons like some of us had feared) and seems to be bullet- and explosion-proof. She can also sense thermal radiation (which is probably the most implausible thing in the movie) and changes her body temperature at will to avoid being detected by the thermal sensors in her paddock. She doesn’t quite fill Rexy’s footsteps, but she tries her best and she’s not at all a bad villain. We don’t see her acting like anything other than a monstrous killing machine, but the movie does try to give her a sympathetic side– when Owen visits her pen, he talks about how she’s been raised in isolation and never had any human contact, and it adds another dimension to I. rex’s story if you look at it the right way.
The raptors were not at all domesticated, docile animals. They weren’t puppies (I’m sad to say) and though they had a genuine relationship with Owen and a strong enough bond with him that it ended up overcoming their primal instincts, they still very much had minds of their own and were the same killers we know and love. As I expected, Blue is really the only one with a distinguishable personality or memorable role of her own, but the Squad is a cool character in itself and the scenes where the raptors work together are great. The movie didn’t “ruin” raptors in any way. And when they all go rogue, they do some really freakin’ awesome killing. They eat like 4 guys and it’s awesome.
I am very sad to report that I was not provided with additional baby scenes. The only scenes we saw of baby dinosaurs were the very beginning, when I. rex and her sibling hatched, and the petting-zoo scenes that we saw already in the trailers. There was also the shot of the pteranodon picking up the baby trike, and the baby did survive. But this is a true travesty. I expected there to be more than 20 seconds of babies and there was not. I plan to protest Universal on these grounds.
This was a lie. A dirty rotten lie:
There was no dilophosaur scene. There was, however, a quick hologram of a dilo in the visitors’ center, which Claire deployed to distract a raptor from chasing them. It felt like Trevorrow was just throwing us a bone, but whatever, it;s a bone I’ll take. Dilophosaurus had its one outstanding scene and maybe this movie was right not to try to top it.
The only Mosasaur scenes were the ones we saw in the trailers and an appearance in the final fight (which I’m still getting to). She was still incredible, though, and I still cheered when I saw her on the big screen. Armgate has been resolved– Zara does get eaten (after she gets tossed around between three pterandons in the air and a few more once she’s in the water, the poor woman) and her arm is very visible in Mosa’s mouth. The rest of the dinosaurs had passing appearances at best; the Gyrosphere Valley scene with the various triceratops, apatosaurs and parasaurs (you can see two paras fighting in the background when the boys are about to enter the Restricted Zone) was beautiful. The dead-apatosaur scene was very sad and even more emotional than I expected it to be. Owen and Claire hold the one apatosaur as it dies from its I. rex wounds, and it really hits you in the gut because it feels like you’re watching a big dog slowly die.
My favorite scenes were the first scene with Owen showing off the Raptor Squad, the scene in the jungle where the raptors allied with the I. rex, the boys going through the park, the Main Street attack and the scene in the old visitors’ center. The boys run across it after they jump down the waterfall (I was right, there was no distinct first-novel homage in that scene) and explore it for a bit before they find the jeep shed and start an old Ford Explorer up. The set is designed beautifully and brought a tear to my eye; it’s totally overgrown and filthy but completely recognizable. The boys dig through the ruins and we see the main room and the dining room, and Zach makes a torch out of part of the “WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH” banner and the fossil tyrannosaur claw. When the I. rex chases Claire and Owen, she stands right about where Rexy did at the end of the first movie, strikes a pose and roars. This, needless to say, made me a bit angry, but it’s more than made up for later. And in the way of previous-movie references, there aren’t nearly as many as the trailers would lead you to believe. The original music is played a few times (and all of them are appropriately awe-inducing, for example, it plays the first time we get a panoramic view of the park) and there’s a very clear homage to the beginning of the first movie when Masrani flies Claire to the I. rex paddock– we even see the waterfall from the first movie– but other than that, nothing really jumped out at me besides what we’d already seen. I’ll see the film a few more times in the coming weeks, so I’m sure I’ll catch more then.
I’ll write more about the other details of the movie later– I sure as heck have time– but overall, I loved it. I’m not just saying that because I’m trying to be positive or because I waited so long to see it. No, I really, really loved this movie. It’s not as good as the first, but it definitely beats the sequels, and I say that as a hardcore Lost World fan. There was a lot of wonder, but it was mixed in with the action, and the action was continuous and very well-executed. The scary scenes were really scary and barely had to rely on jump scares at all. It was a lot like watching the first movie in many respects– I felt the same awe and terror that I did the first time I saw Jurassic Park as a kid. It’s a homage to the first movie in spirit but still makes an outstanding movie in itself. I really, really loved Jurassic World. It continues the franchise in a great and redeeming way, and although I really hope this isn’t the last Jurassic Park movie to ever come out, if it is I’ll be satisfied with how this ended the trilogy’s story arc. I loved it and I can guarantee that you will too.
And now for the best part of the movie: the final fight. After all the visitors have been evacuated and the group is alone on Main Street at night, Claire releases the T. rex after the raptors’ efforts fail, and Rexy comes bursting through the Spino skeleton, roaring in a blaze of glory. (Before now, Rexy’s only been in the scene where she ate the goat for the visitors.) She comes right at I. rex and lunges at her throat, and after they fight for 30 seconds or so, I. rex slashes at Rexy and pins her to the ground, and it looks for all the world like she snaps Rexy’s neck. Now, take a moment to imagine the emotional journey that this movie had just put me through. Rexy came stomping out of her kingdom and the original theme was playing, and it was beautiful, and she ripped right into I. rex– and then we were led to believe that she’d been killed after less than a minute. I thought it was the Rexy-Spino fight all over again. I legitimately thought the T. rex had just been killed. I, and no doubt the other JP fans in the theater who had waited 14 years for Rexy to get her justice, were ready to riot. Visions of enormous ****storms the likes of which had never before been seen on this planet overtaking the fan community flashed before my eyes. But then Rexy got back up.
She shook off the claw wounds– which had killed several apatosaurs earlier– like a champ and dove right back for I. rex’s neck. They tussled for about two minutes, thoroughly destroying Main Street in the process; they smashed up a gift store, which was nice because I like a little symbolism mixed in with my carnage and destruction sometimes. Rexy had the advantage for most of it, although I. rex did get a couple of good bites in. They got close to the water’s edge (raise your hand if you know what’s coming here) and I. rex got a head on Rexy and started biting her neck. And just then, Blue came running out and teamed up with Rexy. The three of them fought for a quick second, and then absolutely the most perfect thing ever happened. Out of nowhere, the Mosasaur lunged out of the water, held I. rex in a death grip and dragged her down into the water, killing her and letting Rexy and Blue go free. Rexy stomped off and Blue followed her after a little goodbye moment with Owen, but I barely noticed because of the explosion of awesomeness that had just unfolded before my eyes. Holy crap, I could not possibly have ever wished for a better ending or a better fight. It was exciting, it was redeeming and it was perfect.
After that, we saw a warehouse full of the evacuated visitors, and the boys met their parents and Claire and her estranged sister made up. Claire and Owen met up again; she asked what they were going to do now, and he said, “Stick together… for survival.” It was touching and sweet, but then the ending came and it was even better. With the original theme song playing at full blast, Rexy walked out onto the helicopter paddock, surveyed the empty park and roared triumphantly, looking down at her old kingdom that was hers again. Boom. Roll credits. Everybody screams with joy.
Again, I’ll do more reviews of the movie once I see it again and this isn’t the last I’ll say about it by far. But the movie was everything we expected and more, the wait is over and Tyrannosaurus rex rules Isla Nublar again. All is well.