“Bigger, cooler, more teeth” is the corporate mantra for the bigwigs behind the fully operational Jurassic World (the park). It’s also the mission statement for this new iteration of the dino-franchise, Jurassic World (the movie) and while it succeeds in delivering on all three of those promises, perhaps they should have added ‘dumber’ in there as well.
Years after the events of the peerless original movie, John Hammond’s dream of a luxury dinosaur theme park is now a reality with thousands of people attending each day. As your standard run of the mill dinosaurs aren’t inspiring awe anymore, the Jurassic World scientists have created a new dinosaur with DNA from various sources to make it a thrilling new attraction, the genetically modified Indominus Rex. Being a Jurassic Park movie, things don’t go to plan and soon there is a rogue dinosaur roaming Isla Nublar creating all sorts of havoc. Park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) enlists the help of raptor wrangler Owen Brady (Chris Pratt) to track down the I. Rex and also rescue her two young nephews who have gone missing somewhere in the park.
So far, so Jurassic Park, right? Big bad dinosaur loose in the park, check. Missing relatives, check. Dinosaur expert on hand to help, check. And to be fair to director Colin Trevorrow, he doesn’t shy away from the fact that this is an updated Jurassic Park movie for modern audiences, with a bigger budget, some cute nods to the past (Mr DNA!) and more dinosaurs than ever before; a bigger, cooler version of the 1993 classic with a lot more teeth. It’s as much a commentary on our own viewing habits as it is an entertaining dinosaur flick; we’ve all seen the T-Rex before, so the movie has to pull out something bigger and better (though ‘better’ is up for debate) to capture our attention and the Indominus Rex is just that. Nothing is ever going to match the awe many felt upon seeing the T-Rex for the first time and no summer blockbuster these days is going to have a scene as intimately terrifying as the raptors in the kitchen, so the movie needs to have some tricks up its sleeves to thrill us anew. Trevorrow shows admirable restraint in showing off his new star in full – a typically Spielbergian tic – until at least 45 minutes in and manages to imbue his new dinosaur with traits that constantly keep us surprised. The wonder may be gone, but the fear these creatures naturally instil lends itself to some terrific scares, not least a scene with the two young boys in a gyrosphere, as well as an ambush sequence that apes James Cameron’s Aliens.
The human characters were never the reason for seeing a Jurassic Park film and that’s no different here, the characters are mostly archetypes: rugged rule breaker, uptight manager, ruthless businessman who cares more about profits than people, obviously evil guy who will totally get eaten later on. That’s not to say the cast aren’t good, and man of the moment Chris Pratt shines in the latest installment of his Indiana Jones audition, but they’re mostly there to fill their required role in the script and to gaze in wonder once the dinosaurs break loose.
But oh, when they do, the movie turns it up to 11 as we’re flung into a roller coaster ride of dinosaur mayhem, culminating in a completely bonkers final act that threatens to jump the shark but oddly, somehow, never does. If you’ve seen the trailer or the poster you know what I mean, and though it feels at odds with the rest of the film it simultaneously sets Jurassic World apart from anything else in the franchise, so kudos for that. The film also plays its trump card in the final moments that, despite an overload of CGI to make it possible as well as feeling slightly generic, may well make you cheer. Must go faster.
Jurassic World doesn’t have the smarts of the original but for a summer blockbuster that has to deliver on the expectations of an audience that has become so used to OTT action as well as please those who saw it 22 years ago (like, say, this 30 year old movie reviewer) it more than succeeds on nearly every level.
Jurassic World is an accomplished combination of all three previous Jurassic Park movies, with all the positive and negative conations that suggests. But the good more than outweighs the bad and it absolutely must be seen on the big screen.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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