In the original Jurassic Park, John Williams's booming score reaches its crescendo as characters gaze up to see a live brachiosaurus for the first time. Their eyes widen right out of their faces and their mouths drop open, in complete awe of this gigantic science beast right in front of them. DOO DOO DOOOOOO.... DOO DOO DOOOO... DOO DOOO... DOO DOOO... DOOOO DOOOOOOOO... The moment is perfect movie magic.
In Jurassic World, a similar build-up of that iconic theme song starts when two kids arrive at a functional theme park featuring live dinosaurs. (GUESS WHAT IT'S CALLED.) Michael Giacchino's score gets louder and louder as they check stuff out. Their eyes never get very wide. Then that booming DOO DOO DOOOOOOOO theme opens up... and we see a kid in a hotel room, staring through a window, to a distant, sterile, manicured theme park. There isn't a dinosaur in sight.
Bad news first: Jurassic World isn't going to fill you with the awe that Jurassic Park did 20 years ago. Now the good news: Sure, it's no JP Classic Original, but Jurassic World is still loud and bloody and pretty fucking badass.
Seemingly ignoring the nonsense of The Lost World and Jurassic Park III, Jurassic World is set in a fully operational park, just like the original film's John Hammond had in mind. It's overseen by uptight Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her very severe red bob. Claire and the suddenly maniacal scientist Henry Wu (BD Wong) have created a genetically engineered super dinosaur (supersaur?) to amp up park attendance. HMM, WILL THIS GO WELL? Spoiler: Obviously not. And dashing and charming raptor expert Owen (Chris Pratt) tells them as much! See, Owen gets dinosaurs, which is why he can train raptors and be buddies with them. Those kids I mentioned earlier are Claire's nephews, and there's also a petting zoo with dinosaur babies, a monorail, and a water dinosaur that eats Jaws (take that, Spielberg!), and Vincent D'Onofrio, who wants to militarize the dinosaurs? There's a lot going on.
Too much, in fact. Look: Jurassic Park was amazing not just because it was cool and new, but it was also perfectly plotted and paced. Spielberg's movie made you gave a shit about everybody; Jurassic World doesn't. The most we know about Owen is that he used to be in the navy (you know, the classic military-dinosaur career trajectory) and all we really know about Claire is that she has no time for kids or a relationship! Or does she?? She is a woman, after all! We can tell because she wears high heels.
Anyway, the big pile of shit starts to hit the fan when BD Wong's genetically evil supersaur starts to act up, as blood-thirsty monsters are wont to do. The park's idiot tourists start getting eaten, and it's not even sad. In fact, it's pretty entertaining. Nobody whooped when Samuel L. Jackson's arm fell off in the first movie, yet the crowd I watched Jurassic World with straight-up applauded when one minor character was mauled to death by a trio of dinosaurs. Are we supposed to feel like this? Is there some greater point being made about capitalism and human destruction? Are we, the viewers, being metaphorically eaten by this franchise?
Whether this film wants to reintroduce a new generation to Jurassic franchise or make an easy cash-grab off of nostalgic idiots like me is unclear. The movie so blatantly panders to my demographic (30-somethings who saw the original in theaters and have spent the rest of their lives trying to find something—anything—that makes them feel that feeling again) that I stopped bothering to make notes of all the nods to the first movie, because by the end they were pretty much just recreating entire action sequences. And it was okay. Because those action sequences are still really cool.
Look: Jurassic World is a little bit soulless, but what blockbuster isn't? It's a fun movie. It's got all of the classic dinosaurs-eating-people we've come to love, as well as strong dinosaurs-eating-other-dinosaurs and dinosaurs-chasing-motorcycles factors, which are nice new touches. And when my primary criticism of a film is "THIS IS NOT AS GOOD AS THE ORIGINAL JURASSIC PARK"... well, the same could be said for most movies.