Jurassic World written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and directed by Colin Trevorrow (Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Pictures, PG-13, 124 min)
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, and Nick Robinson.
Nostalgia can be a dangerous influence on art.
Let me unpack that.
Our Google overlords define nostalgia as, “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.”
Running with this definition, nostalgia predisposes the average person toward something; it causes us to think fondly of what came before and create positive associations with the thing that creates the connection.
So nostalgia is dangerous for art because it can exist as an adhesive for sloppy or poorly formed art.
When watching Jurassic World, I often thought about this concept.
A Park of Amusements
Set 20 years after the damning circumstances around the original park, depicted in the now classic film, Jurassic Park, Jurassic World builds upon this story with a successful amusement park erected from the ashes of the previous failed experiment.
The unabashed success of this theme park, Jurassic World, leads to diminishing returns. The crowds no longer encounter the “wow” factor from the standard herbivores and carnivores.
Dropping revenues push the Jurassic World scientists to the drawing board hoping to genetically engineer a new “wow” dinosaur.
Managed by the capable hands of Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Jurassic World is set to open a new attraction, the modified killing machine, Indominus rex.
While Claire busily maneuvers the business pieces around this new asset, her soon-to-be divorced sister (Judy Greer) sends her sons, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) to spend time with their aunt and enjoy the theme park.
As to be expected given the entire premise of the series, the hubris of humanity innovates a creature too advanced and its escape wreaks havoc on the island.
Luckily, Navy veteran and velociraptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) leverages his keen abilities in an attempt to keep Claire and her nephews safe.
Leveraging Nostalgia When Story Lacks
Even though Jurassic World succeeds from an entertainment perspective, its broadly drawn characters and standard blockbuster plot developments threaten to sink the ship. And yet, the carefully placed references to the original film create enough nostalgia to keep the story enjoyable.
The viewer sees thumbprints from the original film everywhere. There’s the DNA illustration, the loudly colored Jeep Cherokee, the mosquito fossilized in amber, and the use of red flares. Jurassic World respects its predecessor.
But nostalgia will never be enough to fuel a feature-length film, and for me nostalgia is the only thing keeping the story afloat. I might be getting older, but I don’t necessarily need to see the suffering and destruction of another disaster movie.
And yet, if you have fond memories of the original film, Jurassic World can be a fun reminder.
Verdict: 3 out of 5