When I was a kid I was absolutely fascinated by dinosaurs. Correction: I was obsessed with dinosaurs! Another correction: I am still obsessed with dinosaurs! Something about these extinct creatures of a distant time kept my attention. They were so much bigger than the current animals on the planet and so much cooler. Fuck giraffes. If I wanted a long-necked animal I looked toward a Brontosaurus. Lions are cool, but a T-Rex would eat the shit out of Simba. I really dig wolves because they're lethal pack hunters. But really, they're just the poor man's version of a Velociraptor. I wanted to know every kind of dinosaur there was and I wanted to dig up dinosaur bones, to be a paleontologist. Let's back it up. Before I wanted to dig up dinosaur bones I wanted to be a dinosaur. My mom used to be embarrassed because I would pretend I was a dinosaur and bite other kids at pre-school. My mom put a stop to that by bluntly telling me that I wasn't, nor ever will be, a dinosaur. (Dick move!) I obviously loved movies that featured these majestic beasts. A Land Before Time comes to mind. It was great when I was a kid, and it even made me shed a tear at the age of 20. I also liked Disney's Dinosaur. Not a classic, but it was still a fun ride. But Jurassic Park was something else. I don't use this word a lot, but I was captivated. I thought I was legit looking at real dinosaurs. The CGI was way ahead of its contemporaries. Some movies don't age as well because we can point out their primitive graphics. This isn't one of those movies. The film had everything. It was adventurous, suspenseful, funny, meaningful and transcendent.
That last word is the key for me: transcendent. See, the plot is great already. Rich guy wants to build a theme park featuring extinct dinosaurs. Said rich man asks scientists to visit the park and sign off on it. Dinosaurs run free and eat people. That right there is a great adventure, but that's not all this movie has to offer. There are themes to this shit. While there are many to choose from, I'll stick with a quote that has latched to my cranium: "Life finds a way." This line was said by none other than Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm, who is skeptical about scientists meddling with nature and playing God. I think that line itself is transcendent. We look at how much human activity has had an impact on earth, some good and some really terrible. Think about deforestation and poaching that have caused many of the beautiful inhabitants of the earth to diminish in size until they've become endangered, or even worse, extinct. You don't have to back very far to remember the recent oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara. The images of birds with wings covered in oil is heartbreaking. It can all make you feel hopeless for world. Human beings need to step up and try to remedy the injustices. Unfortunately some of the damages are hard to reverse. But you can take comfort in Goldblum's words: Life finds a way. Life wants to exist. Life wants to create more life. Life is resilient, more so than we can imagine. I have hope that if we do our part, and really put an effort in restoring this beautiful planet, life will keep fighting an eventually win out. Sure, Dr. Malcolm was talking about dinosaurs getting out and eating people when he uttered those words, but the words are transcendent, much like the rest of the movie.
It is the reason why I am able to watch this movie again and again without any drop-off in my enjoyment. I can still pull something new from the movie. Each time I pop the disc in the DVD player it feels brand new again. There's a reason why at the age of 20 I coughed up good money (I was recently laid off at the time) to watch Jurassic Park 3D. For me it's a classic, and it stands in an elite club. I am a kid again when I am watching this movie, the world grew up without me. The stars of the movie have aged and moved on to other things. Jeff Goldblum starred in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. (Not on par with the original, but slightly underrated. The Lost World had its moments.) Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant) did Jurassic Park 3 (sad face) and then I never saw him again until he starred on Fox's Alcatraz. (I really enjoyed Alcatraz, but it was cancelled after just one season! Curse you Fox!) After the atrocious third movie everyone distanced themselves from the franchise. It seemed as if the franchise would go extinct, with the trilogy ending on a sour note. But wouldn't you know it, life found a way.
I first heard rumors of a Jurassic Park project a few years ago. I remember being really excited at first. I re-watched the first movie on my laptop and got even more excited. I watched the sequel and I was a little less excited, but nonetheless I was eager to see if these rumors would come to fruition. By the time I saw Jurassic Park 3 I was no longer as excited. I was worried. My childhood couldn't take anymore beatings. If Universal Studios was just going to fuck this movie up, I needed them to just back off. But when the rumors were confirmed I kept my ear to the ground to figure out who would take part in the "untitled Jurassic Park project". If Universal was going to resurrect this classic, I needed to know the right people were going to be involved. I heard Stephen Spielberg would not be directing (bummer) but he would be producing. I never heard of the director, Colin Trevorrow, prior to Jurassic World, but it was the writing that concerned me the most.
That's part of what led me to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Sure, I actually wanted to see the revival of this franchise that didn't involve Tim Burton, but my hidden motive was scoping out the talent. See, I heard the writers, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, were also attached to Jurassic World. Like an NBA scout at a college game, I was checking these players out before approving them for the Jurassic World roster. (Not that my disapproval would put a halt to production.) As I wrote about before, I loved both the Apes movies so emphatically that in my own head I green-lighted this project. (I like to think I'm involved in these Universal board meetings.) Now I have to approve of the star: Chris Pratt.
Chris Pratt is the best. I love Chris Pratt and so do a lot of other people. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard of anyone who detested him. He's a likable guy. I knew him first from Parks & Rec as Andy Dwyer, a total lovable and kind-hearted goofball. He was one of the funniest characters on the show and a fan favorite. For me the order goes: Tom, Ron, Andy, then Jean-Ralphio. But as great as Chris Pratt was on the sitcom, he wasn't the lead and his role didn't really scream out: "Movie Star!" He had some supporting roles in great movies such as Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty. He was great in them, but he wasn't carrying those movies. In comes the out-of-nowhere hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Ask my dad, I wasn't planning on even watching this movie. Like many people, I had no idea who these Guardians were. My dad insisted that I would like it, and eventually he wore me down and I saw it, but not until I found out this fact: Chris Pratt is to star in Jurassic World. Time for Head JW Scout El Guapo to wait in line at the midnight premiere. Look back at my review and you can see that Guardians blew my mind. Gone were the images of a tubby, funny Chris Pratt. CP was now buff as shit and could definitely carry a movie. He needed to be in my (I mean, Spielberg's) movie.
Months later we land on Thursday, June 11th, about an hour away from midnight. There's nowhere I'd rather be. I've seen all the trailers. I've read any article I could get my hands on. Those promos, interviews and TV spots are registered in my mind. All leading up to one moment. I've learned to trust again and my heart was in the hands of Spielberg, Trevorrow, Jaff, Silver, and Pratt. They were either going to disappoint me or earn my love forever. (Well, Spielberg already had it.)
Jaff and Silver did it again. They wrote an amazing story that transferred amazingly on screen. Decades after the failure of Jurassic Park (the park, not the movie) due to the main attraction eating people, the park has been reopened and re-branded as Jurassic World. This park actually works and the dinosaurs are not eating people. It seems as if everybody learned their lesson and no disasters will happen. (Wrong! But we'll get back to it.) Meanwhile brothers Zach and Gray are shipped off to visit their work-centric aunt Claire while their parents work out their divorce. As a product of divorced parents (two-time club member, baby) I can definitely symphytize. I read an article that wrote the Spielberg uses broken homes and divorced parents in his films a lot because he too saw his parents get divorced. Nothing to do with the story, but I thought it was interesting. Aunt Claire is too busy for the boys and can't hang out with them. She is too busy unveiling the park's new attraction to the shareholders: a genetically modified dinosaur that's a T-Rex mixed with a mystery dino. (Remember when I sarcastically said that everybody learned their lesson? That's called foreshadowing.) Claire must enlist Raptor trainer and dinosaur expert Owen to take a look at the creature and make sure it is safe to unveil. Won't get into how, but the dinosaur, dubbed Indominus Rex, escapes and shit goes down. Now our hero Owen must take her down before she eats everyone on the island. If your balls aren't tingling right now you should go get your shit checked out. Then after that go catch this movie.
What I really liked about his movie was the fact that I could pretend that The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 never, ever happened. Obviously they are going to reference the original film throughout the course of this movie. But never do they ever talk about 2 or 3. There's no talk about Isla Sorna or San Diego or Spinosuarus. Jurassic Park was the only source material they needed. In my mind I can pretend that Jurassic World was the sequel 22 years in the making. You seriously don't know how big a deal this is. It's almost like being in a terrible relationship then getting in a really good one and forgetting all about that terrible ex.
What made Jurassic Park wasn't solely the dinosaurs. The characters, who they were and how they were developed and portrayed, was a factor in the film's success. We cared about those characters. We wanted them to survive this theme park out of hell. We hated other characters and wanted them to get eaten by a T-Rex. Love them or hate them, we were invested in the lives of those characters. Jurassic Park 3 lacked that component and failed as a movie. I was anxious as to how Jurassic World would do. Owen, played by Chris Pratt, is, and I'm taking a quote from the movie, a bad-ass. He fucking trains Raptors. He's an expert on dinosaurs and survival. He's smart, witty and conscientious, the ideal hero. Chris Pratt played it perfectly, and I don't see anyone in Hollywood playing this role as well as Pratt did. What can I say? He's on a role. How about Ron Howard's daughter. Bryce Dallas Howard plays the overworked and neglecting aunt who runs the shindig. She is uptight and very career oriented. She doesn't even know the age of her nephews. When disaster strikes, however, her survival and maternal instincts come to play. Can't be understated how much more attractive she becomes once she's sweaty and dirty. (Clean Claire is a 7. Dirty, Sweaty Claire is a 9.) Don't act like I'm being misogynistic and shallow ladies. Who would you rather have, 2007 Chris Pratt or 2015 Chris Pratt? Exactly. The little brother is played by the kid who falls into a coma in Insidious and the older brother is a relatively unknown actor. The older brother really had to grow on me. His "I don't give a fuck if I'm at a cool ass dinosaur park, I'm gonna do me, ignore my troubled little brother and strike out hitting on girls" attitude really bothered me. But survival instincts come to play and big bro is now likable.
What we really came for was some damn dinosaurs. To begin the graphics are amazing. I still feel like I'm looking at real life dinosaurs. I didn't expect any drop off there. The Raptors were there obviously and played an integral part in the film. They look much better than the Jurassic Park 3 versions. T-Rex makes a cameo and there's that big ass shark dinosaur. No Spinosaurus this time and thank goodness. The big bad wolf is the Indominus Rex who is 10 times better than the Spinosaurus. She can run fast, camouflage, think strategically, doesn't have a stupid spine thing, and is genuinely scary. She's also an asshole. The T-Rex ate people dinosaurs because it was hungry. Just as the trailer told us, she kills for sport. We're good on dinosaurs and plenty good on the action too. Jurassic World might just be the most action packed of the franchise. The first 20-30 minutes are just setting the stage and introducing the characters. But once this she-bitch from hell gets out of her cage, there is hardly any pauses in the movie. I'm calling this movie the Summer Blockbuster of 2015. I liked it even better than Avengers: Age of Ultron. In its opening weekend Jurassic World broke the record for biggest opening weekend ever grossing $524 million world wide. The previous record holder was Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows Part 2 proving once and for all that with the exception of NBA basketball, Raptors are better than wizards. (Suck it Hermoine!) Jurassic World is not Jurassic Park, but it didn't need to be. It just needed to surpass the two other sequels. It did more than that and then some. Life found a way. A Guapisimo is the only logical grade.
I hope you guys are enjoying my slew of movie reviews. I'm surprised I've even been able to keep up considering the NBA Finals (and the fucking parade!!!!!) so, yeah, impressive. Thank you for reading. Make sure you stay updated on all my posts from both this blog and Infinite Wisdom on the NBA by liking my Facebook page. I post everything there at your convenience. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr at @ELGUAPO3, @Captaincrunchtime, and sirelguapo.tumblr.com in that order. Add me on Snap Chat at crunchtimemario. I'm being as accessible as I can without handing out my phone number. If you like what you read, come back for more and bring a friend. Enjoy your summer and stay Guapo out there!