Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Jurassic World

The highest grossing movie of 2015, and the third highest grossing movie of all time, "Jurassic World," is now on Blu-Ray.

I’ll come clean right off the bat and say that I am not a “Jurassic” franchise fan. Lord knows I’ve tried. I saw the first “Jurassic Park” at the movies in 1993, and watched it on video here and there over the years. I always had the same experience: I got caught up in all of the awe and wonder and effects of the world created in the movie, then felt let down when it degenerated into a mindless monster movie. I thought its sequel, “The Lost World,” was even worse in this regard. Of the original three films, I like “Jurassic Park III” the most, probably because it’s the shortest and most straightforward plot-wise of the three. I respect that. However, the third movie is the one where a velociraptor talks, so that says something. Granted, it was just in a dream, but still.

Having not learned their lesson from when dinosaurs ran amok twenty years before, the park in “Jurassic Park” has now become the resort hotel and theme park of “Jurassic World.” The place is run with ruthless automaton efficiency by Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), whose polished cheekbones, lack of smile, and rigid demeanor remind me of the robots from “Westworld” (a movie written and directed by Michael Crichton, who wrote the novel “Jurassic Park”—homage perhaps?).

It’s not long before history repeats itself and a specially bred dinosaur that’s part t-rex, part raptor, and part other animals, like tree frogs and cuttlefish, is going berserk on park visitors. Other dinosaurs quickly follow suit, and the merry mayhem we’ve come to expect from the “Jurassic” movies ensues.

What made this different for me is that I didn’t feel let down by the action. I think the major reason is the strength of the story’s hero, a raptor trainer named Owen (Chris Pratt). Owen remains cool under pressure, and proves his mettle in an especially intense sequence with the raptors when we first meet him. He’s also a man of principle. A shady government agent (is there any other kind in these movies?) named Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) wants to use raptors to fight in the next war. Owen knows what a dangerous and foolhardy idea that is, and he speaks plainly as he makes his opinion known. This is a man who says what he means and means what he says. He’s also smart and innovative, able to think quickly and act in dangerous situations.

Whereas previous “Jurassic” movies had people running scared for their lives and basically trying not to get eaten, with Owen we get an actual hero we can root for. Owen is not one to cower in fear and look for the best hiding spot and stay there. He wants to do something to effect change. For him, it’s about more than survival—it’s about doing something that will make a difference. This is something that the previous installments never really got right, but “Jurassic World” nails on the head. Finally, a “Jurassic” movie that I can enjoy from start to finish. Buy it.

Jurassic World (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD)

Jurassic Park Collection - All 4 Movies, Including Jurassic World (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD)

Also New This Week:

Paper Towns

As a movie, “Paper Towns” is doomed from the start. It’s doomed because it’s one of those movies where the preview is much better than the movie itself. The preview for “Paper Towns” sets it up as a coming of age, life lessons learned-type story mixed with a mystery. We see how teen Margo (Cara Delevingne), a rebellious free spirit, spends an eventful, vengeance filled evening with neighbor and classmate Quentin (Nat Wolff). Margo then disappears. Quentin was the last one to see her. Luckily, Margo left clues. Quentin sets out to follow the clues and find her.

This is a pretty cool premise. “Paper Towns” is about this—and much more. The inclusion of more would seem to be a good thing on the surface. In this case, less would have actually been more, because the more that we get is crap.

Once Margo exits the picture about half an hour into “Paper Towns,” we’re stuck with Quentin, who is a likeable enough guy but a bit bland. To spice things up, we’re introduced to his two dweeby best friends, Ben (Austin Abrams), the typical brash and horny boy you usually get in these movies, and Radar (Justice Smith), a gawky kid with black rimmed glasses who takes being a pussy-whipped beta male to a whole new level of pathetic. His relationship with the attractive Angela (Jaz Sinclair) is so forced and unbelievable that it’s clear her only true function in the movie is to provide another female so that Lacey (Halston Sage), Margo’s ex-best friend, isn’t alone when she joins in the search.

The bulk of “Paper Towns” involves a road trip that the group takes to see if they’re right about deducing Margo’s clues. It’s for this stretch of the movie that things get banal, rote, and cliché. There’s nothing inspired or interesting in anything they see, say, or do. It’s all assembled from off the shelf parts straight out of the hack handbook. It tries to be a drama, a comedy, a mystery, a coming of age story, and a romance. It throws so many different genres into the mix that it’s completely unfocused. We never know what kind of movie we’re going to get from one scene to the next. The filmmakers threw it all in, and nothing works.

I can imagine that for a teenager, this may be their first experience in seeing such things, and since it’s new this may appeal to them. But trust me kids—Hollywood has been making road movies and coming of age movies since before you were born, and most of them are a lot better than “Paper Towns.” Skip it. 

More New Releases: “Back to the Future Trilogy,” released just in time for you to watch part two on October 21, 2015; “Demon Knight” and “Bordello of Blood,” two “Tales from the Crypt” feature length movies that fans of the series should enjoy; “I Spit on Your Grave III,” vile entry in the despicable franchise full of misandry and brutality; and “The Oblong Box,” a much better film with Vincent Price and Christopher Lee than “Scream and Scream Again”—shame that Peter Cushing couldn’t join them.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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