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“Jurassic World” arrives to restart a classic franchise

Jurassic World
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t consider Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park to be an overt classic. You can find people who don’t care much for either of the sequels, but the first one is almost undisputedly one of the best blockbusters ever. Now, I can’t actually say much about this new one, as I’m under embargo until tomorrow, but later on this week I’ll be ranking all four films in the franchise (the other two being The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III), so they’ll all get mini reviews, essentially. Right now though, I want to look at what Jurassic World brings to the table as the re-birth of the franchise, as well as a hotly anticipated summer title. The movie will have a big audience, no doubt about that…

You’d have to be living under a rock to not know what this series of films is about, especially since it’s right there in the title, though this one really only asks you to have seen the first one. Almost two decades later, the park filled with living dinosaurs is now open, with tourists galore filling it daily. In an effort to boost attendance, a new genetically modified dinosaur is created, one that’s a mixture of all sorts of gnarly things, which obviously is a bad idea. Before long, it has escaped containment and begins to run amok, leading to the entire Jurassic World island being eventually under siege by previously extinct animals. Spielberg only produces here, as Colin Trevorrow is co-writing (with Derek Connelly, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver) and directing. The cast for this one is almost all fresh, with one exception (BD Wong), and is led by Chris Pratt. Also on hand is Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jake Johnson, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Judy Greer, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, and more. In place of the iconic John Williams and his music (though pieces of it can be heard), legend in the making Michael Giacchino is composing the score. In spirit, this wants to be more like Jurassic Park than either of the sequels, something that the promotional material has made abundantly clear.

The reason that this is such a high profile summer event film and not just another would be blockbuster is the love that folks have for the first outing. The two sequels serve their purpose, but they don’t compare to Jurassic Park. Obviously, Jurassic World can’t capture the initial wonder of seeing dinosaurs on the big screen like that one did, but the goal of actually completing the zoo-like vision of the initial project is the right choice to make. Of course, as the saying for that film goes…there’ll be running, and screaming. That much is certain. The thing is, to be more like Jurassic Park and less like The Lost World: Jurassic Park or Jurassic Park III, there needs to be more. With the talent on hand, that was forefront on their minds, along with creating a worth successor to what Spielberg was able to craft.

Having Trevorrow and Connelly reunite after their moving indie debut Safety Not Garaunteed was a great choice by Spielberg, even without commenting on the film (again, I’m under embargo). Their first flick was low fi but full of science fiction spirit, plus the sense of wonder that Jurassic Park fed into. To make a successful sequel, especially one called Jurassic World, spirit and wonder are absolute necessities from the word go. Just any filmmaker wouldn’t have done, as this requires a special touch from someone who understands that this isn’t just an action/thriller. Spectacle is requires, but not hollow spectacle, if that makes any sense? You need heart as well.

Ultimately, you all can make up your mind on Friday/this weekend when Jurassic World unspools before your very eyes, but I have to imagine this is pretty highly anticipated for many of you. Between giving another potential franchise role to Pratt, elevating Trevorrow as a filmmaker, and just introducing a whole new generation to Jurassic Park. When I rank the franchise later on this week I’ll give my full thoughts on Jurassic World, but for now, just anticipate it simply as the next generation of an iconic franchise. Jurassic World is coming in a matter of days folks. The park is very much open…

Stay tuned for my “Jurassic” rankings later this week and check out Jurassic World in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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