Of necessity, this post will include SPOILERS of the movie Jurassic World, a popular movie this summer. I think its high box-office rating was well earned because it did a lot of things right.
First, and most importantly, the writers connected viewers with people—characters with whom we could identify: a mom saying goodbye to her kids; a cynical dad; an enthusiastic younger son wrapped up in his obsession, but not missing the important things going on around him; a teen working hard to maintain his cool and his distance from . . . well, everyone; an aunt insulating herself with her work; and the Raptor trainer who sees and knows what others only discover the hard way. There were driving factors in each of these characters that made them believable and relatable.
The movie also created a unique world—one that seemed quite other while also delivering a very familiar feel. Society has learned, so the pundits in this new world believe, all the necessary and important lessons about dinosaurs and ways to mishandle them. They can now be enjoyed by the public in safety. Enter the very familiar: cruise ships making stops at tourist hot spots, a theme park vibe, safari/zoo/marine-life exhibits all rolled into one.
Viewers with experience at any of those this-world entertainment venues can identify with the people flocking to Jurassic World, and standing in line to see the attraction they’ve most recently heard about.
Add in the economic concerns by the CEO who wants to make sure the tourists keep coming, and the business side of Jurassic World also seems believable.
A third factor that made this movie enjoyable from my point of view was the existence of a villain. Granted, Aunt Claire initially takes the role of an opponent, but it’s soon clear she’s not insulated from the world of the animals as she initially appears. Rather, there is a much more sinister force—the villain who wants to use the dinosaurs, specifically the Raptors.
At this point, the movie slid a little into the predictable because the great evil in science fiction seems to be a soldier type who wants to use whatever robot or communication device or teleporter or dinosaur which has been developed in the lab for military purposes!
Be that as it may, this Jurassic World villain was sufficiently creepy both in the ways he manipulated the situation, the people, and the animals and in his plans to do more—to preserve and to advance what he had started—that he made the story that much more intriguing.
One of the best parts of the movie as far as I’m concerned was the theme, which can best be summed up as “Family is more important than anything.” I thought it heart-wrenching that the younger son, Clay, knew his parents were planning to divorce, and I was impressed that the movie allowed the effect of divorce on children to seep through.
I was gratified to see Claire come to her senses and to do all she could to save her nephews.
And of course, what’s a movie without a little romance. While predictable, the attraction between Claire and Owen, the Raptor trainer—or Alpha—worked from the beginning. As the plot unfolds and Claire’s own determination, grittiness, and fierce resolve come to the forefront, their love relationship is sealed . . . as long as they both survive.
Of course there’s some discussion about the amount of violence. As it happened, plenty of people died, but these were mostly the people tasked to contain the situation, one way or another. The innocent people vacationing at the tourist hot spot were traumatized and many received wounds, but few died. In many ways, I found this to be a plus because anonymous deaths never make me more aware of danger. Rather, it gives a ho-hum-another-one-bits-the-dust feel. I thought Jurassic World did a better job avoiding that pit fall.
Of course others point out the incongruities in the movie—the ways they could have contained the Indominus Rex, the unlikelihood of teenage Zach Mitchell starting a Jeep that had been idle for 20 years, Aunt Claire outrunning a T-Rex in her high heels, and more. Nobody said the movie was flawless, but it was interesting and more worthwhile with its themes about the importance of connecting with and committing to people (and animals) than a lot of movies.
Finally, Jurassic World gave a fitting nod to Jurassic Park. Not only is the theme park the fulfillment of the dream of John Hammond who founded the original dinosaur attraction, but various characters have nostalgic musings, and some ruins of the original park come into play in the plot of Jurassic World. The sum of all this is to ground the new park in the “history” of the old, making both seem more real.
All in all, I thought Jurassic World was a better than expected rendition of this dinosaur science fiction series. Kudos to the writers, actors, directors, and of course the incredible special effects teams.