Film Review: 'Jurassic World'
Opened: 11 June 2015
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, B. D. Wong, Irrfan Khan
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Producers: Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley
“Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that's how it always starts. Then later there's running and um, screaming…” – Ian Malcolm (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 1997)
And there’s plenty of running and screaming in the new addition to the franchise, one that was stuck in production hell and development for over fourteen years. Director of just one feature film, Colin Trevorrow takes the reigns and sportingly carries forward the burden of adding to a franchise, that’s remained stagnant for a while, and nudges it in the right direction, which is a relief given the travesty that was Jurassic Park III.
Jurassic World will never be a classic. It’s wasn’t designed to be. But as a standalone summer film that takes its inspiration from the original and as a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it more than makes up for its discrepancies, including a cheesy, wafer thin plot and virtually zero emotional connect with its core characters.
To be fair, Jurassic World hasn’t had the easiest ride since its first trailer landed. ‘The special effects are ropey….The CGI’s cack…. Oh it’s not as good as the original.’ I was always a fan of the original, but was always on board to at least give this film a chance.
And I'm glad I did. Jurassic World, with all its cheeky (and fun) nudge-nudge-wink-wink nods to the original isn't perfect but it delivers enough (PG) thrills, chills and (blood) spills that loyal fans of the original will appreciate.
What viewers forget is that with Jurassic World, Trevorrow has to entice an entirely new generation of cinemagoers – one that’s been exposed to excessive CGI, one that's more cynical than we were as kids, and one which now takes technology for granted. I loved the sequences where despite the wonder of nature unravelling right in front of their eyes, tourists are busy tapping away on their phones, and completely losing out on the experience that the park has to offer. Very current and very spot on.
Jurassic World's plot unfolds twenty-two years after the events of the first film with Isla Nublar now a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, unsurprisingly called Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. What’s different this time round is that the park doesn’t really exist to make a huge profit, but rather as more of a biological preserve. At least that's what its owner Masrani (Khan, good even if a little stereotyped) intended it to be, despite operations manager Clare Dearing's, (a stiff and frigid Dallas Howard, who gets better as the film progresses) repeated pleas to take note of the establishment's dwindling profits.
Added to the mix are shady antagonist (D'Onofrio) who plans to use Raptors as a biological weapon, and Clare's doe eyed nephews who get caught up in a weekend getaway from hell.
Pratt meanwhile, plays park ranger Owen, who’s conducting behavioural research on Velociraptors and trying to "figure out the limits of the relationship between these highly intelligent creatures and human beings." His services are called upon when the park's most terrifying, genetically modified hybrid monstrosity (that 'ate its sibling' and created purely to boost revenue) escapes its pen, and runs amuck causing chaos (Malcolm would have had a field day with this one) and all round bloodshed across the island.
There’s enough wow factor here to entice the kids, and some of the dino-scenes are undoubtedly awesome, but at times Jurassic World, fails to shake off that ‘been here, done that’ air about it, especially in the film’s latter sequences, which despite the requisite plot twists, some of which completely fail to engage and some unnecessary melodrama, its pace drastically drops.
That and a complete lack of chemistry between the film’s leads a burly and rugged Pratt (who’s easy on the eye and eminently likeable) and Dallas Howard, who’s character progression is utterly unconvincing, and a caricaturish villain in the form of D'Onofrio, who’s otherwise terrific as the Kingpin in Netflix’s Daredevil, are bound to leave a few viewers disappointed. To be fair though, the fact that they sportingly let the badass dinosaurs take centre stage at the expense of their own arcs massively works in the film’s favour.
Those flaws aside, Trevorrow does a decent job here (he co-wrote the film) and Jurassic World, which serves as a direct sequel to the first one, is easily the best sequel, by a mile (not that its predecessors were up to much anyway). The film raises some pertinent questions about what happens when man tries to play god and Trevorrow addresses these with maturity, rather than making Jurassic World a Michael Bay-esque headache that relies solely on visuals to see it through. That said, the special effects in the film have massively improved from the iffy CGI in the trailers and both the dinosaurs and a few jumpy sequences in the park are standout terrific, and will undoubtedly raise cheers – at a few points I found myself literally wanting to throw my popcorn at the screen! The Indomnius Rex is truly terrifying, as are the smarmy, but somewhat endearing Raptors, and a cameo by the much loved T-Rex from the original is so well timed in the climax, it leaves you wanting more.
In all, despite its very obvious flaws, Jurassic World makes for a worthy summer blockbuster and is entertaining popcorn fodder that’s a whole lot of fun, but ultimately, entirely forgettable. I’m going with a decent three and a half stars.