The next report card is for the latest installment in the Jurassic Park series, where the park is finally open for business, entitled Jurassic World.
Jurassic World—directed by Colin Trevorrow; written by Rick Jaffa (screenplay and story), Amanda Silver (screenplay and story), Colin Trevorrow (screenplay), Derek Connolly (screenplay) and Michael Crichton (characters); starring Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), Irrfan Khan (Simon Masrani), Ty Simpkins (Gray Mitchell), Nick Robinson (Zach Mitchell), BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Judy Greer (Karen Mitchell) and Vincent D'Onofrio (Vic Hoskins).
There's a wide variety of characters, but pretty much every one of them has their own idiosyncrasies so they can stand out. Our male protagonist, Owen Grady is the quintessential action hero—or, as the kids refer to him in the film, "a bad ass"—which starkly contrasts with our female protagonist, Claire Dearing. While he is gruff, hands-on and down in the dirt, she's the number-cruncher who is literally wearing white. Thankfully, she is neither shoehorned into a stereotypical damsel in distress role, nor is she forcefully given the "I'm not a damsel in distress, so I'm going to prove it" treatment that many women are given by bad writers. Both of them just are what they are, and that's what makes them fun to watch.
Gray and Zach Mitchell, the two children, don't fall victim to the bothersome attributes that kids often bring to films, either. Both are true to their ages and not annoying whatsoever, which is refreshing. There are comic relief characters like Lowery and villains such as Hoskins, so you get what you're expecting.
As far as the principal and extended cast goes, there are only a few downsides. Barry, one of the fellow raptor trainers, is basically just "the other raptor trainer" and not much more. Simon Masrani is "the guy in charge who can somewhat fly a helicopter, maybe....I wonder when he's going to die" and not much more. I would have liked more character development for Dr. Henry Wu, but there are hints that future sequels may expand on it.
None of the characters are memorable in the sense that people will talk about Owen Grady in the same vein as Vito Corleone, Claire Dearing as the next Scarlet O'Hara and Vic Hoskins as an equivalent villain to the diabolical Joker, but they service the film admirably and are deserving of a positive score.
The best actor of the bunch is likely Ty Simpkins or if not him, Jake Johnson, even though Chris Pratt will get the bulk of the recognition. He has a relatively easy job, though, just being cool and not very nuanced. Bryce Dallas Howard deserves credit, too, for taking a character that could have been so uptight and bitchy that she became unlikable and detouring her in just the right ways to avoid that. Overall, the cast is fine with no real standout performances and nothing that will get any notice for awards season. We'll skip over Katie McGrath's character Zara when praising this section of the film.
VISUALS (FX, MAKEUP, COSTUMES, SETS): A
There's one shot in the movie that looked incredibly fake, which is when the beak of a pterodactyl (I'm assuming that's what it is, and if it isn't, please tell me in the comments below what species it is) almost pierces the children. That stood out to me as laughably bad, as if someone were pushing a sculpture around like an airplane. Other than that, though, the rest of the effects are fantastic. The dinosaurs had to look realistic, seeing as how the first film pulled it off, so if there was a downgrade, it would be noticeable. Makeup was a little heavy on the oil sheen for Bryce Dallas Howard toward the end there, where she just so happens to be posing in a sexy position and glistening for the camera with ripped clothing, but I'll allow it. The sets were great, the costumes were very basic, and there's really nothing for me to point out for anything else.
MUSIC & SOUND: C–
I don't dislike the audio of the film, but at the same time, it just doesn't have the heart and soul that the first film did. There are times where the Jurassic Park theme shows up and it feels a bit forced and reminds me that this movie lacks the same magic, which in turn soured my mood a bit. Of course, I would be extremely upset if that theme wasn't in the film at all, but I was hoping to hear a great score to accompany it and was disappointed.
I've stated in the past that I'm in no way a scholar when it comes to sound design, so I'm usually very lenient when it comes to that. If there's nothing offensive and I don't think about the sound during the film, I take that as a sign that it's a home run.
TONE (ACTION, ROMANCE, COMEDY): B
ACTION: The intense looming threat of danger isn't as strong as the first film, but this is easily the best of the series when it comes to pure action. The final fight alone surpasses what we've seen in other movies. Very cool.
COMEDY: There was a nice balance of comedy and seriousness, which is good considering how so many films lately have been a little too heavy on the laughs. Although it isn't inherently in the film itself, it's somewhat written in by design for the audience participation at certain scenes. This made me chuckle every time the person in front of me would say things like "aw hell, she's DONE" and giggle at the right moment.
ROMANCE: Things were a bit simple, which takes away from the overall score. I felt less for Owen and Claire than I did for Owen and the raptors or just general sadness when it comes to the dying dinosaurs and Owen feeling sympathy for them. Romance is a bit of a dud, but let's be honest, who really came to this film to see a love story, right?
FINAL GRADE: B–
With things like Kingsman and Avengers: Age of Ultron having already pleased me greatly and Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens coming up in December, this movie is going to be lost in the shuffle and somewhat forgotten about when I'm thinking back on what I loved about the 2015 movie calendar. However, it was definitely a fun movie experience that I'm very glad to have seen. I liked this movie far, far better than the second and third installments in the series and I would recommend it to everyone who is a fan of the first film despite those two blunders. I'm not too sure if I want to see the franchise end on a high note like this or attempt to make a new trilogy out of things, but if they announce another film, I'll be sure to pick up a ticket.