Jurassic World is here

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Although the theater where I first saw Jurassic Park no longer exists, I still vividly recall that warm Sunday afternoon after church, when my parents and I went to the Biltmore Twin, a second-run theater in the South Forest Shopping Center.

I had just turned five and hadn’t even started kindergarten yet. And like most kids, I’d come down with a full-blown case of dino fever. I’m not sure how many of you remember, but the release of Jurassic Park was an event.

I remember going to a huge dinosaur exhibit at the Biltmore Square Mall. I don’t remember whether it was directly connected to the release of the movie, but it was certainly there because of it, complete with an animatronic tyrannosaurus rex, among other giant lizards.

However cool, the animatronics couldn’t match the excitement of the resurrected dinos that were living and breathing in Jurassic Park. Twenty two years later and that movie is still just as good as the day I first experienced it.

So how does Jurassic World – the fourth movie in the franchise – compare to its great-grandparent? Rather well, actually. To be absolutely clear, Jurassic World is in no way Jurassic Park’s equal, but that doesn’t keep it from being an incredibly cool movie. And in some ways, it’s not exactly fair to compare a sequel to its originator, although it’s difficult not to.

Jurassic Park was, and remains, something very, very special. But to ease your mind, just know that in my screening of Jurassic World this evening, there were two instances where the audience burst into applause. That doesn’t happen during bad movies.

With Chris Pratt playing the lead, Jurassic World is well cast. There’s a reason Burt Macklin’s middle name is “Tyrannosaurus” (seriously, look it up). Dallas Bryce Howard also shares the spotlight, as Pratt helps locate and save her nephews – one of which reminds me of Sean Astin in The Goonies. None of the stars of Jurassic Park make an appearance, unfortunately, but there is a familiar face in the laboratory.

While able to stand on its own, there were some cool nods to the original that I really appreciated, especially towards the end. That said, there aren’t as many memorable moments. Jurassic Park was loaded with them, with my personal favorite being when Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill are sitting in the immobilized Subaru, watching the water ripple as the rain pours down and the thunder turns out to be colossal footsteps. Gives me chills every time. There aren’t many scenes of that magnitude in Jurassic World.

It’s still worth the price of admission, however, and I’ll end by saying this: dinosaurs fighting is just about the coolest thing ever.

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