The headlines, the word play writes itself for the fourth entry in the Jurassic series, a hoped-for return to Steven Spielberg’s classic, early-90s formula, which would just maybe wipe out the unintentionally comical taste of Jurassic Park III.
20 years or so later, after Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern screamed and stampeded their way through a two-hour theatrical thrill ride, it seems the humans have finally mastered the art of playing god. The dinosaurs aren’t necessarily scary anymore, not above what a lion in a zoo or a shark in an aquarium would be. They can be corralled and tamed, until of course Bryce Dallas Howard’s predictably severe woman-at-the-controls decides to tweak the monsters by one DNA strand too many. That’s when the havoc starts.
Also playing this weekend: Live from New York and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Michael Crichton’s novels – and Spielberg’s first two movies – had a message, a metaphor to rip apart mankind’s cannibalistic ambition. When Richard Attenborough tried to bring the dead back to life, after millions of years as a fossil, he was sure humans could harness his invention and sell it as an attraction. He had trained scientists and hunters and, as he was fond of saying, “Spared no expense.” He even made sure every dinosaur born on Jurassic Park was female, so they couldn’t reproduce. But of course, “Life, uh, finds a way.”
What will the message be in 2015, I wonder? You can only go so far? But where’s the line? The trailers seem to pin the movie’s action on Howard’s character’s naivete, like the real problem isn’t that man re-created dinosaurs but that man invented a new dinosaur.
In Jurassic Park, it was Hammond’s tinkering that was the real enemy. You can’t manipulate the laws of nature with consequence, basically, and if that consequence taps out after a lawyer and Newman from Seinfeld are brutally killed, then really it could have been worse.
Hopefully, those behind Jurassic World have fooled nature in another way, a law that only Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and George Miller have seemed to beat in the court of public opinion – the sequel is never as good as the original. Definitely not the fourth.
The reviews so far, and this shouldn’t be a surprise for a film that enters two decades later with the weight of the world on Chris Pratt’s shoulders, are mixed. They inevitably will be, because the formula was too perfect the first time.
In his review for Mashable, Josh Dickey writes that 1993’s Park “is downright tame by comparison, and yet somehow scarier” than World. That’s going to be the problem – how do you possibly follow-up on the first time you saw the water ripple in the cup, the first time you heard the T-Rex roar?
The Daily Mail‘s Brian Viner – and of course, that newsroom enjoys everything – called it “top-notch entertainment with a bite”.
“This is a tremendously exhilarating adventure, certain to be a huge box office hit and a worthy addition to what I suppose must be called the Jurassic Park franchise,” Viner says.
“While it’s not very much more than a monster-on-the-loose movie… it’s two hours of superbly realised, really top-notch entertainment.”
So there’s a cynical one and a gushy-eyed one. And there are slamming reviews, too – the Boston Herald‘s James Verniere calls it a “more expensive Sharknado“.
But the best review is the most honest review, this one from the Illinois Times‘ Charles Koplinski:
“The very definition of a summer movie,” he says.
And really, isn’t that what we want?