11 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Jurassic World’

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This weekend’s big release in movie theaters is Jurassic World. While a lot of geek parents may have fond memories of seeing the original film as kids, I wanted to take a moment and let you know whether or not the sequel is something you should take your kids to.

A note on spoilers: I’m not going to directly talk about anything here that wasn’t revealed in the film’s trailers. However, I won’t make the same promise about the first movie, so if you haven’t ever seen Jurassic Park and have somehow managed to avoid spoilers on it since its release, then you might want to stop reading.

1. What’s it about?

22 years after the events in the first movie, Jurassic World is a popular, thriving theme park attracting visitors by the thousands. The problems from the first park (which were, admittedly, caused more by direct sabotage than anything else) have been solved. However, the park is now suffering from its own success, and the thrill of seeing living, breathing dinosaurs is starting to wear off on the public. So the park’s scientists have come up with something special: a genetically-engineered, never-before-seen new breed of killer dinosaur, called “Indominus rex.” Soon enough, though, Indominus escapes from its pen and goes on a killing spree.

2. Is it really a direct sequel to the first film?

Yes, it is. The movie is full of references to the first film, including having a character wear a Jurassic Park t-shirt he got on eBay, and a sequence that takes place in the original park’s now-abandoned exhibition hall. There are multiple references to the late Sir Richard Attenborough’s character, including a statue in the new exhibition hall. And BD Wong returns as Dr. Henry Wu, the island’s chief scientist. There’s even a brief appearance by “Mr. DNA.”

3. Will I be lost if I haven’t seen the original, or if I haven’t seen it in decades?

I saw the movie with someone who had never seen the original, and I specifically asked him that question afterwards. His answer was an emphatic “No.” None of the references I mention above are particularly integral to the story. He was able to pick up on the fact that they were probably references to the first movie, but that didn’t take away from his enjoyment of this one.

4. What’s it rated, and why?

The MPAA gave the movie a PG-13 for “intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.” That’s kind of interesting in a way. Yes, obviously, there’s lot of violence and peril. And yes, all of the violence is perpetrated by or on CGI dinosaurs. However, the original was also PG-13 (for “intense science fiction terror”), but the new movie represents a considerable step up in the violence. While Spielberg avoided blood altogether, new director Colin Trevorrow doesn’t shy away from it at all, spraying blood on windows and plants in multiple scenes. There are a lot more people in the way this time, since the park is open for business, and that results in considerably more deaths. Most are quick person-getting-eaten bits, and many are off-screen, but there’s a fair amount of bloody deaths as well. There’s also one character that is actually given a name and some lines of dialog who suffers what I considered to be a completely gratuitous, long death sequence.

There’s also a mild amount of language, including one instance of the s-word.

5. How’s the music?

I consider the original movie’s score to be among John William’s best, so I was at first a bit disappointed to discover that he didn’t do the music this time around. Thankfully, though, they handed those duties over to Michael Giacchino, whose work you’re sure to recognize from Pixar films (Up, Cars, Ratatouille), the recent Star Trek reboot films, and Lost, among a lot of others. He does a very good job here of crafting a Williams-like score, making sure to incorporate Williams’ famous theme throughout.

6. How’s the science?

I’d rate the science as “plausible.” I’m not a paleontologist by any stretch, but of course one needs to keep in mind that the movie is science fiction, not a documentary. However, I’m guessing the real question here is “but where are the feathers?” Well, it turns out that the script was smart enough to address that issue: in one of the expository scenes early on, a character explains that it’s important to keep in mind that none of the dinosaurs on the island have pure dinosaur DNA. (That was in the first movie as well–they explain that they mixed what they got from the amber with frog DNA.) Because of that, she says, “if any of these dinosaurs had pure DNA, they’d look a lot different.”

7. Besides Indominus, are there other cool new dinosaurs?

Most of the dinosaurs were in the original: there are herds of grazing Apatosaurs mingling with a herd of Triceratops and the like. And of course there are Velociraptors and a T-Rex.

This movie does feature a group of Ankylosaurs, which I don’t recall seeing in the first film. There is also a huge flock of flying, uh, creatures.

(Please keep in mind my statement above about my lack of paleontologist training. I’m calling the dinosaurs-with-long-necks Apatosaurus because that’s what Giacchino calls them in the title of one of the songs on the soundtrack. I know better than to refer to just any flying dinosaur as a Pterodactyl, although it’s possible that that is what these are… but of course I know as well that Pterodactyls aren’t dinosaurs. Hence “flying creatures”.)

8. When’s a good time to go to the bathroom?

Most of the expositional talking scenes are early on, but at about 40 minutes there’s a break in the action just after Indominus gets loose. It starts with Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) returning to the control room and telling her people to remain calm.

At the half-way point in the movie, about an hour in, there’s a scene where Claire and Owen (Chris Pratt) come up on a dying Apatosaurus. You’ll have a few minutes at least before the action picks up again, but once it does after that point it’s pretty much non-stop until the end of the movie.

9. Is it worth seeing in 3D? 

I saw the movie in 2D, so I can’t say specifically, but my guess is no. I certainly didn’t feel like I missed out on anything by seeing it the way I did. My guess is that there’s a lot of dinosaur jaws jumping out at you, and the sequence with the flying creatures might be a bit cooler to watch in 3D, but overall the movie is perfectly enjoyable without the added dimension.

10. Will I like it?

My guess is yes. I did. You can read my full review on Filmstosee.com. It’s a fun thrill ride of a movie that gets to the action quickly and pretty much never lets up. There’s a fair amount of humor mixed in, and all of the actors do well in the environment they’re given.

11. Will my kids like it?

That’s a tougher question to answer. Older teens most definitely will. Younger kids? I’m not sure.

Earlier this week, I heard an interview on the radio with Phil Tippet, formerly of Industrial Light and Magic who had the very cool title of “dinosaur supervisor” on the first movie. In the interview, he related the tale of how when they filmed the original, there’s that scene where the T-Rex is attacking the over-turned jeep, which has young Ariana Richards trapped inside. According to Tippet, one point the scene was going to continue with the T-Rex dragging the jeep to the edge of the drop-off as if to carry it to its lair to finish her off, and Spielberg told Richards to improvise some lines while it happened. So she started screaming “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” They looked at the footage afterwards, and Spielberg decided that it was far too intense that way, particularly with Richards calling for her dad, so he cut it.

I challenge you to go back and re-watch the scene, and then imagine that part being there. I think you’ll probably agree with Spielberg. I certainly do. I don’t, however, think that Trevorrow would. This movie is really all about more. More dinosaurs, more violence, more blood and a lot more terror.  Yes, the sequence at the end of the first movie where the kids are desperately trying to escape the raptors is intense (and it includes a hilarious bit where Richards, a young computer expert, clearly doesn’t know how to hold a mouse). But it’s nothing like what you get again and again in this movie.

I sat down and watched the original with my nine-year-old son a few weeks ago. He enjoyed last year’s Godzilla, so I figured he’d like this movie and I wanted him to see the original. And he thought it was cool. Now, however, I am not at all sure that I want to take him to see this one. While he will find large parts of it cool, I’m genuinely concerned that it will scare him. I would absolutely recommend that parents see the movie by themselves first, and then decide whether or not your kids can handle it. Definitely do not assume that because you were your kids’ age when the first one came out that they’ll be OK seeing this one.

Note: Before anyone links to the meme in the comments, Tippet also mentioned in the interview that he wanted to “thank” all of his fans. Because they are constantly pointing out online that he so obviously failed in his duties supervising the dinosaurs in the original, he’s been demoted in this film to a mere “dinosaur consultant”.

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12 thoughts on “11 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Jurassic World’

  1. As a parent, I think this is the best review of a movie I’ve ever read. You hit the most important points–especially the potty break one. Well done, sir.

  2. My 9 year old and I watched Jurassic Park for the first time together the other night. He got scared and we had to turn it off. Don’t think I’ll be able to take him to the new one.

  3. The world today is twisted. And its gonna get worse. The ratings system is for fools. You can’t trust the entities that rate movies. Because they are all being paid. Movies today that are PG13 would have been classified R when I was a kid. They don’t waste time pouring garbage into the brains of children today. Because its all part of the demoralization of society. To dumb down our children for the sake of promoting the corporate culture of capitalism. Protect the rich.

    My only advice to parents is to wake yourselves up and stop letting society do your thinking for you. If you actually paid attention to children, you would see what’s good for them and what is not. Public schools are havens of corruption. And anyone who sends their kids there would most certainly send them to see Jurassic World.

    1. You are obviously confused about who is in charge and sets the standards in the entertainment industry. You’re right, they are a major part of the demoralization of society, but who are they? They are liberals, and yes they also want to dumb down our children. Where you are wrong is saying that it’s about the corporate culture of capitalism or to protect the rich. That’s the opposite of their agenda and fits more with the conservatives. Please don’t place the blame on conservatives. Everything you watch on TV and at the movies is made by liberals just as what your children learn in public school. Common Core was created by liberals as well.
      I’m a conservative, I home school my daughter (14 yrs) but we absolutely love Dino movies. I’m bringing her to see Jurassic World today in 3-D.

      1. American liberals and American conservatives only disagree when it comes to a small set of social issues (abortion, gay marriage, etc.), and milldly on spending/taxation (both want to spend a lot, but differ slightly on who – military for conservatives, social infrastructure and physical infrastructure for liberals). On everything substantive, war, economics, energy and the environment, etc. they all agree. They are neo-liberal, and pro corporate, neo-conservative and pro-imperialism (on the down low of course), and both pro their financial backers, after all, that’s capitalism. Neither “side” should deceive themselves into believing they are on the right side of anything. You need to get outside the “2” party system to start seeing anything remotely different.

  4. Great write-up! Jurassic Park is my favorite movie of all time, but I hadn’t really let myself get too hyped up about Jurassic World before it came out. It was the most fun I’d had at the movies in a long time though. I never get that “makes me feel like a kid” feeling that I hear people describe, but I totally had it during the climax of this movie. Some of the writing was bad, but it was just so fun.

  5. Great write-up, Rob. Thinking about catching this with the family on my birthday.

  6. Thanks, that was very helpful with my wondering whether my 8 year old son should watch with me. He’ll not be watching this film for a few years yet then it seems.

  7. Thank you for a great and truthful review. My hubby was given the Jurassic World DVD for Christmas by our 24 yr old daughter. Our younger girls (9 & 11) were looking forward to watching it with us, especially as a couple of children in my 9 yr olds class had, apparently, seen it and told her how good it was. However, working on the assumption that it had got its’ 12 rating for a reason, my hubby and I decided to watch it first without the girls and we’re glad we did.

    Both girls have seen the other three films but this one…… this one is definitely a no go for now. Totally not suitable for under 10s ….. it scared the beegeebers out of me in places and I’m considerably older than 10 😉

  8. I hadn’t seen Jurassic Park 1,2,3,so I watched all 5 films first. My 5 year old loves dinosaurs n after watching them I decided to let him watch with me. He got so wrapped up in the excitement of the fights between the dinosaurs, always rooting for Blue or the t rex. T rex has always been his favourite n he started an interest in dinosaurs at a very early age (18mths I think) . He didn’t seem at all scared by it. And I let him watch a children’s programme after it, especially if he’s going to bed. He’s never had nightmares from it. But has had nice dreams about Blue n the t rex, so obviously the badish parts haven’t played on his mind afterwards.

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