The original Jurassic Park is an undisputed classic. Like many people my age, it’s probably the main reason that I became such an avid lover of film. I would watch it over and over again, making it not only a great film, but also a huge part of my childhood. Watching it today I can really appreciate the impeccable craftsmanship that Steven Spielberg brought to the film. I really believe that it’s the greatest blockbuster ever made and one of the greatest films of all time. No other film has been able to capture the sense of wonder like Jurassic Park had. Anyone who watches it is sure to feel like a kid again. Its sequels were unable to match the success of the original, but did anyone really expect them to? How can you possibly top a film like Jurassic Park? The answer is that you obviously can’t. Arriving in theaters almost 15 years after its predecessor and over 20 years after the original, Jurassic World will only be a disappointment to those who are foolish enough to compare it to Spielberg’s original masterpiece. For those that are willing to just sit back and enjoy the ride, this is arguably the best Jurassic sequel and one of the most fun films of the summer.

The events of Jurassic Park may have been horrific, but they weren’t enough to stop the greedy corporate executives at InGen from opening up the park to the world. Today the park is called Jurassic World and it’s fully operational, with thousands of visitors traveling across the globe to see dinosaurs every day. But not everybody is quite as impressed with dinosaurs as they used to be. People have fully accepted the fact that dinosaurs now exist and the childlike wonder that visitors experienced in the original Jurassic Park is mostly gone. To combat this, scientists and executives at InGen have crafted an original dinosaur, called the Indominus Rex. But eventually this massive and incredibly powerful dinosaur escapes from its enclosure and begins heading towards the park’s visitors.

Despite lacking an appearance from any major characters in the original film, Jurassic World feels like the most spiritual successor to Jurassic Park. Neither The Lost World nor Jurassic Park 3 actually took place at the park, instead setting their plots on the second island, where dinosaurs were bred by InGen scientists. Some may view it as a sin to loosely recycle the plot of the first film (a theme park excursion is interrupted by escaped dinosaurs), but I think that there’s enough differentiation here to make it acceptable. It’s an interesting concept to think that people would actually be bored of dinosaurs, but the idea is handle quite well in the film. As a T-Rex mows down on a goat to the amazement of some audience members, a teenage boy talks on his phone with his back turned. Moments like this allow for some humor and establish enough of a reason for the scientists in the film develop the Indominus Rex.

What’s most interesting about this installment of the franchise is that the park is actually open for business. One of the most unique aspects of the original film was that it took place at a theme park, but the park in the original film was still in the testing phases. Here, for the first time, the park is completely operational and it’s great to see all of the different attractions that they’ve cooked up. From the awesome water-dino Seaworld-esque viewing to driving around a field of dinos in a gyrosphere, it’s a total joy to watch all these attractions. As we watch two brothers travel to the island and experience all of the attractions, I truly felt the joy that the youngest brother was feeling. The film captures that feeling of being on vacation and wanting to experience everything in the park while you still have time. When the youngest brother opens the window of his hotel room and John William’s original theme begins to play as the entire park is revealed, I found myself getting emotional because we’ve been waiting over 20 years to see this park in action. I could have just watched a two-hour long visitors guide of the park and I would have been completely enthralled by it.

But of course things have to go wrong because this is a Jurassic Park movie. The Indominus actually escapes from its confinement rather early in the film, probably a sign that director Colin Trevorrow was worried that too much time without a dino attack would test the patience of audience members. It would have been nice to see some more exploration of the park and character development early on in the film, but you can’t really fault the film for quickly delivering what it promises to do. Most of the dinosaur sequences lack the punch that the original film had, but they’re still fun to watch and each sequence is different enough from the other to prevent them from blending together. An attack by the Indominus by two kids in a gyrosphere feels like a direct homage to the original film, as does a scene where our main characters are surrounded by Raptors. The taming and training of the Raptors by Chris Pratt’s character seems pretty ridiculous, but it’s something that we haven’t seen before. Easily the best sequence in the film is an attack by a group of Pterosaurs on the unsuspecting tourists. It’s exhiiatating to watch these creatures pick people off and this sequence feels completely unique to this installment and doesn’t rely on callbacks to any of the original films. It also doesn’t hurt that this sequence features the funniest moment in the entire film (keep your eye out for the man trying to escape while carrying two margaritas).

Chris Pratt proved himself as a leading man in Guardians of the Galaxy, but here he’s not given much to work with. His character is pretty dull, as are most of the characters in the film, although this is no fault of the performers. And with a heavy reliance on CGI over practical effects, the dinosaurs in the film also fail to feel lifelike, especially in comparison to the wonderful effects in the first film. But if you’re able to separate this entry in the series from the masterpiece that started it all, this is actually a really entertaining popcorn-munching summer blockbuster. It’s fast, cool, funny, entertaining, over-the-top, perfectly cheesy and, most importantly, a lot of fun. There’s just something about dinosaurs that brings out the kid in all of us.

Jurassic World receives 3/4