Jurassic World

The Bad

Talking about all the action and design, notice how I didn’t mention any characters at all? It’s because the characters are all pretty bad in Jurassic World. Not bad morally, though there are those of course, just not particularly well thought out. Take Owen for example. He’s our hero, and we hear a little about where he came from, but as the movie starts he already is who he is. And during the movie, he’s just that. A bad ass dinosaur whisperer with a vest. Then there’s Claire, the head of a multi-million dollar theme park, who is scared to fly in a helicopter and cares more about numbers than her nephews. And yet, as the movie moves on and she begins to see the ere of her ways, that arc gets totally undercut but the incredibly forward pushing story.

The supporting characters, played by the likes of Jake Johnson, Lauren Lapkus, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan and Omar Sy, are even less memorable. Each has a specific, sometimes even fun role to play, but they’re cardboard cutouts of what real people are. Every character in this movie is begging for just a few more minutes of development and understanding. It feels like all of that was jettisoned in favor of the film’s pace, which does kind of make sense, but it’s still disappointing.

Then there’s the script itself, which is pretty solid structure wise, but laughable dialogue wise. For 20 minutes, the movie will zoom at you like a runaway train, with action, scares and effects. But when things slow down, the melodramatic exchanges are laughable. This is almost okay because usually the meat around these scenes is fun, but they do still stand out.

Jurassic World Robinson Simpkins

The Ugly

However, the thing that bothered me most about Jurassic World were Claire’s nephews, Zach and Gray, played by Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins. I think each of the actors are fine in the roles, but the script – or maybe the edit – does them no favors. Take the older brother Zach, who is set up early on to be a girl-crazy 16-year-old boy. His mother (played by Judy Greer) says he picks on his brother and he’s trying to be super cool. All of this is set up, but none of it pays off. He’s never particularly mean to Gray, and his personal interests are there for no reason. Things go bad and instantly he’s a blank slate.

At one point in the film, Gray and Zach talk about their parents potentially getting a divorce. It’s like a baseball bat hits the movie in the mouth. Where did this come from? When did this become relevant? There are scenes in the movie that allude to their backstory but it’s never quite spelled out and it’s just infuriatingly out of place. Not to mention the entire idea of them being on Jurassic World is A) Lifted from Jurassic Park and B) Totally undercut because Greer’s character says they’re supposed to be on a family vacation, but they spend it alone for the most part, with their parents thousands of miles away.

Sure they get a couple of cool scenes but most of them time it feels like they’re just taking up space.

Jurassic World set visit

The Verdict

Jurassic World has problems. There’s really no denying it. And yet despite those problems, whenever my mind starts thinking about the movie, I immediately want to see it again. The sense of wonder and rush of adrenaline is so powerful that – for me –  it covers all the bad and ugly things about the movie. At its very worst, it’s the best Jurassic Park sequel. At its very best, it gives you tiny glimpses at what may have been. Maybe that good will will go away as the film ages but, for now, I liked it just a little more than I didn’t.

Germain’s /Film rating: 6 out of 10

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.