Up until the release of a certain high-profile sci-fi sequel this weekend, Jurassic World was the top-grossing film of 2015 with a whopping $652.2 million in ticket sales. And though that figure sort of disqualifies the film from being talked about here, the idea of reviewing a blockbuster IFE title like World on a weekend when Star Wars: The Force Awakens had fans getting their Jedi on in record numbers at multiplexes worldwide seemed just too good to pass up. And since World was co-written and directed by indie sensation Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed and the recently announced Star Wars: Episode IX) I thought it might still qualify, if even just barely, as an indie-spirited film. So, bear with me.
Despite getting a pretty bad rap with critics when it opened last summer, the fourth film in Universal’s hugely popular Jurassic Park franchise is actually much more fun and entertaining than it needs to be. Especially considering the fact that the last two Jurassic sequels, 1997’s God-awful The Lost World: Jurassic Park and 2001’s sloppy retread Jurassic Park III skated by on total fossil fumes. At the very least it feels like Trevorrow and company had fun making World and that energy and enthusiasm shines through in practically every shot. I’m not saying the film is great art or anything, but if you like watching giant, genetically modified dinosaurs run amuck at a modern-day theme park in the tropics (and who doesn’t?) then World is definitely the inflight movie for you.
Starring Guardians of the Galaxy’s white hot Chris Pratt, the always fetching Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village) and those aforementioned rampaging Dino’s, World is the big, E-ticket thrill ride you hoped for and more. And though I could have done without all the blood (World is also the goriest film in the series by far) and the fact that the villain at the heart of the action is portrayed, once again, by an evil fat man (Vincent D’Onofrio), overall, World is the best kind of mindless summer movie. Goofy and fun when you want it to be, scary when it should be, and often downright thrilling, if you’re like me you’ll find yourself dreaming of the day Universal incorporates some of World’s killer action set pieces into actual rides at the park. I mean, hello, Jurassic Gyrospheres anyone?
And though World’s younger cast members, Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins, are great and play characters that are surprisingly resourceful in a pinch, my favorite part of the film was seeing indie scene-stealers like Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire), Judy Greer (Ant-Man, The Descendants) and Jake Johnson (Drinking Buddies, TV’s New Girl) collecting big studio paychecks in key supporting roles.
Of course, the real stars of any Jurassic Park movie are the dinosaurs and the enlightened, monster mash hybrid dinos in World are off the chart cool. Especially Pratt’s pet velociraptor, Blue, who might just give the most expressive CGI performance of the year. Really good stuff.
So, why let your friends and family on the ground have all the big Hollywood franchise fun this weekend? You might not be able to dress like a Jedi or wield a plastic lightsaber in-flight, but if you’re lucky, you can still have some mile high dinosaur fun of your own without ever leaving your seat. So, live it up!
Now playing on select Delta, American, Lufthansa and British Airways flights worldwide, Jurassic World is also available via streaming on Amazon Video, VUDU and iTunes.