I Saw Jurassic World Live, And It's Better Than All Of The Movies

"Jurassic Park" fans, I know your pain, for I am of your people. The first time I saw the original movie as a kid ... well, it frightened me deeply and I didn't make it to the end. But the second time? Pure movie magic. The groundbreaking effects made me fall in love with dinosaurs, and the rapid-fire dialogue about science and ethics made me fall in love with Jeff Goldblum. But then the dark times came.

Don't get me wrong; I have a lot of love for the campy mess that is "The Lost World," and I watched my local library's DVD copy of "Jurassic Park III" more times than I can count. For some reason, no one else ever reserved it. But let's not mistake nostalgia and goofs for quality filmmaking. Neither sequel could live up to the original, though my young brain did its best to bridge the gap. Somehow, the "Jurassic World" films satisfied me even less. Maybe I'd just grown older and jaded, but each entry felt like another step downward into soulless IP expansion. The bigger the action sequences and box-office takes got, the less emotional connection I felt.

I thought I'd never rekindle the magic of the first "Jurassic Park," but then a curious thing happened: I went to see "Jurassic World Live," the theatrical stage show currently touring America. It changed me, and it's better than the entire "Jurassic World" trilogy. Let me tell you why.

But wait, isn't Jurassic World Live for kids?

Okay, you got me. I'm not exactly the target audience for "Jurassic World Live." As I stood in line to go through security at the Barclays Center, I realized I'd forgotten something important: a child. Most of the other adults there had them, but my friends and I were utterly kidless. The vendors hawking dino plushies and spinny lights on sticks completely ignored us. But what if I told you that fun doesn't care how old you are?

"Jurassic World Live" is a show where dinosaurs come to life. Some of them might be three people in a trench coat in a triceratops puppet, but when that John Williams music starts playing, you won't even notice. It's a show about friendship — about true love, motorcycle stunts, and the complexities of app development in the modern Silicon Valley landscape. It's a show where a baby stegosaurus does a little dance because that's a really cute thing to do. It's a show where evil capitalists try to build a mood ring for dinosaurs.

At my show, there was even a funny intermission performer who threw boomerangs. He'd throw five at once and then try to catch them all, but he mostly dropped them. Like, for real, he missed them almost every time. This went on for 15 minutes. But then right before Act II, he caught all five, and the whole place erupted with applause.

That's what "Jurassic World Live" is all about: the triumph of the human spirit.

Jurassic World Live is officially, undeniably, 100% canon

The story of "Jurassic World Live" spans a significant amount of in-universe time, stretching from the beginning of the first film to just before the start of "Fallen Kingdom." The main plot revolves around a troodon dinosaur named Jeanie ("short for Genius"), who's captured and experimented on by InGen scientists after the collapse of the park. The reason? A unique piece of tech called the "Dino Decoder" that reads and interprets Jeanie's brain waves. InGen wants to develop the device to control its militarized raptor army.

The best part for superfans is that the story is completely canon, and indeed part of the grand overarching "Jurassic Park" timeline, even receiving tips from the likes of Steven Spielberg. To that end, there are cameos from a couple of familiar dinos, including Blue the velociraptor and Bumpy, the adorable ankylosaurus from "Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous." Colin Trevorrow has called the show "soft canon" but confirmed that the events take place in the main timeline.

Make no mistake, though — this isn't just a retread of the rest of the franchise. Most of the characters are entirely new, and the plot travels from Isla Nublar to Chile and back. InGen is arguably at its most villainous, and the show feels more like "Indiana Jones" with dinosaurs. Sold yet?

Jurassic World's Claire and Owen are nowhere to be seen

If I'm being fully honest, I had to look up the names Owen Grady and Claire Dearing to write this. I couldn't remember the protagonists of the entire "Jurassic World" trilogy. They're just that forgettable. Chris Pratt fatigue aside (which I know we're all feeling these days), Owen just isn't a very compelling character. His traits are liking dinosaurs and riding motorcycles. That's about it. Claire isn't much better.

Boring Hollywood protagonists are tired. The main characters in "Jurassic World Live," though? Wired. Allow me to introduce Dr. Kate Walker, the answer to the frequently asked question, what if Claire Dearing knew kung fu? Equally skilled at mixed martial arts and building machines that read dinosaurs' brains, Kate is a more memorable character in basically every way. She's the Charizard to Claire's Charmeleon, if you will.

Who will join her on her quest to save Jeanie? Introducing Oscar, the answer to the question, what if Owen Grady wrestled in the WWE? Oscar may not get a lot of character development, but he does dropkick a lot of InGen lackeys. Like, a lot. I'm talking full-on, running start, two-feet-to-the-chest kind of kicks. Half of the show is basically backlot stunt performances where Oscar takes down dozens (not exaggerating) of dudes. He also hates dinosaurs but begrudgingly comes to respect them by the end. We love an arc!

All kidding aside, Jurassic World Live is fantastic

"Jurassic World Live" is a very silly show. It's an hour and a half of big dinosaur puppets walking in circles to John Williams music, elementary school science talk, and Oscar suplexing stuntmen into the ground (there are mats, don't worry). But it's just. So. Fun.

There's a love story between two scientists with absolutely hilarious dialogue. There's an intern character named Chad who makes dino TikToks and eats macaroni and cheese with only his face (this is now canon). And even with the entire Barclays Center lit up by overpriced toys, I felt transported. Is it goofy? Absolutely. But when the T-Rex came out in the big finale, all the kids in the row behind me lost their minds. And when Jeanie was being caged by InGen lackeys, they shouted for her to run. Being there in the arena with them, it was impossible not to feel that same kind of excitement. There are dinosaurs, real dinosaurs, onstage in front of you — even if it's only pretend.

The greatest scene in "Jurassic Park" isn't the climax, or the jeep chase, or Muldoon hunting the raptors. It's at the very end, when John Hammond turns back from the helicopter and looks out over his greatest failure. He knows it can never work. He knows it was a mistake. But he can't escape the awe and majesty that dinosaurs instill in us mere humans. The "Jurassic World" trilogy just doesn't have that majesty. "Jurassic World Live" brings it back.