By: Mike Agostinelli

Ah, Jurassic Park. The mere thought of it brings warm, fuzzy childhood memories to my mind. It was always right up there with Batman as a formative event of my youth, something I vividly remember seeing on opening night to this day. The smell of the theater, the sticky floor that my feet couldn’t quite touch as I was sitting down, and the first dinosaur sighting of that Brontosaurus trying to eat the leaves off the tree. It was a milestone, no doubt. But the movie itself, to me, does not hold up to our modern day blockbuster expectations. The pacing is off, it abruptly ends, and theres barely any dinosaurs. I think people hold it on a pedestal because of how it made them feel rather than how good the film actually is. Its not God’s gift to film, though it was an event to be remembered. So, how does the latest installment in the franchise fair?

Jurassic World is technically Jurassic Park 4, although it only really mentions or refers to the original film throughout its runtime. Not an awful choice, all things considered. The park is now open, John Hammond’s dream of a giant “spare no expense” dinosaur theme park finally coming to fruition. We have a surprisingly hot Bryce Dallas Howard running the place, while the charismatic Chris Pratt acts as the parks resident animal behavioral specialist as well as the guy who can sexually harass you yet hes too cool and funny for you to really notice and/or care. Due to increasing consumer demand, the park higher-ups push through the creation of a new hybrid dinosaur, the Indominus Rex. This things a mutated freak show that happens to be hyper-intelligent and has the ability to command other dinos through his overall sheer badassery. This leads to…issues. Many, many issues.

So: this movie is entertaining as all hell, to say the least. I can safely say it has the most dinosaur action out of all the Jurassic movies, and ten times more than last years oddly structured Godzilla film. The dialogue can be a little odd at times, but overall everyone is funny and charming and badass and cute when they’re supposed to be. Even the kinda-forced kid subplot isn’t annoying, due to the kids being way more resourceful than usual Jurassic Park movie kids tend to be. The films action takes awhile to take off, but the down time is never boring and I never found myself checking the time once during the course of my viewing. Once the action rolls in, it never stops, propelling the film headlong into its giant, epic, ridiculously awesome conclusion. Seriously, I haven’t seen a movie ending this satisfying in years. It was one of those movie-gasm moments that come along rarely, and when they do its cause for celebration.

The score by Michael Giacchino is measured in its use of the vaunted Jurassic Park theme. It goes hard on it in the beginning, but then levels off and replaces it with a new theme. At first, this bothered me. That theme is so iconic and well-known that you’re being quite ballsy by shelving it for the majority of your movie. But after some time to stew on it, that decision makes sense, as the film morphs into its own thing while setting up interesting roads for the future films to go down. In the end, honoring what has come before but also making something new became the best decision.

My only gripe with this near-perfect film is that the Indominus Rex itself is kind of…bland looking. There’s nothing really special or crazy about this things look. It resembles a thinner T-Rex with lighter skin and a few more teeth. The fact that everyone in the movie is so shocked by its out-of-place appearance when it actually looks like three other dinosaurs in the park was a bit odd. But to allow something so minor to interrupt your enjoyment of such a pleasurable moviegoing experience like this one would be idiotic. Especially since it all takes place during Christmas. Yup, this is a freaking Jurassic Park Christmas movie bro. And even though the whole Christmas thing is only really acknowledged in the beginning, I’ll take that as icing on the cake. Nerd load officially and emphatically blown.

I give Jurassic World a 9 out of 10.

Next up: Ted 2