Ferocious dinosaurs, unsuspecting heroes, sinister companies and children. Yep, we are going back to the island.
Colin Trevorrow helms the newest installment of the prehistoric thrillride started with Jurassic Park in 1993 as we are introduced to a theme park fully functioning on Isla Nublar with reanimated dinosaurs, corporate sponsorship and golf courses. After the comparative disappointment of the previous sequels there may be some trepidation with Jurassic World, but the formula presented is more than effective and really propels the canon rather than pushing it towards extinction.
Jurassic World has been open for a decade, the initial failure of Jurassic Park has been forgotten as a wealthy investor Simon Mansari takes over the vision of John Hammond and now has dozens of dinosaurs living in harmony with petting zoos, Sea World style aquatic displays and a very special aviary. But in the face of audience apathy, a new hybrid dinosaur is in development while we see some military interest also threatening to derail the happy harmony of the island theme park. There for the ride are some young brothers on holidays. The overworked operations manager of the island facing declining numbers and balancing ethics with excitement. And finally Owen Grady, a trainer at the park living close with the dinosaurs and concerned about the direction management is looking to take. We already know what’s going to go down but ill let that unfold on the screen for you in a very satisfying way .
Trevorrow with Spielberg's notes and assistance has created the film that most Jurassic Park fans always envisioned, the successful realisation of the theme park that was intended in the original. The detail is incredible. From a Margaritaville and Samsung sponsorship (and product placement) to the laconic employees and administrative back alleys, the creative team have obviously spent a lot of time in theme parks and put to film a world i had to remind myself did not actually exist a few times. Further than that we get shot recreations from the first film, but this time teeming with tourists and then later in the movie some scaring imagery. Jurassic World is a visual smorgasbord and a film worth watching on the largest screen possible.
The characterisation of the leads in Chris Pratt’s Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire are spot on, we are given enough chemistry to keep the plot rolling, their gender balance is constantly at play (with the talk surrounding Mad Max it is likely to be a talking point) as Pratt and Howard take turns supporting each other and while Pratt is held as a compassionate warrior, there is no doubt Howard can do what is required. The only gender stereotype upheld is the oft used trope of a successful business woman in her mid 30’s being pressured into a traditional family role by overbearing family or societal concerns. I noticed nobody suggested Pratt needed to settle down, but i digress to a minor cinematic familiarity at this point. The supporting cast is competent, Vincent D’Onofrio is a two dimensional villain, his motives clear from his appearance alone. Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus as tech heads play off each other well and BD Wong, Judy Greer and others round out the numbers as needed. The child stars of the film Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson are just passable in their co lead performances. For the first two acts of the film, their wooden acting is a distraction and it is only in the third act where their interplay comes to the fore and are enjoyable. Obviously the youth is used to add tension and a wide eyed wonder to the world, but at some point kids in peril need to be able to act for me to not want them eaten at the first sight of danger.
The dinosaurs are the stars of the show here as always. With the expanded theme park we are given glimpses of a wide variety of beast as well as the returning favourites in the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor and more. We are shown baby domesticated Apatosaurus being ridden in a petting zoo, a gargantuan Plesiosaur jumping for sharks like a dolphin at Seaworld and more which would lead us to believe domestication after a decade is the goal. Obviously this isn’t the case and even Owen’s attempted to coerce the Velociraptor are seen as him still at their mercy despite their bond. The Carnivores are again the villainous focus of the piece, the brutal hybrid Indominus Rex the most savage dinosaur in the franchise yet, cunning and modified to suit its surroundings. The fate of the island is largely uncertain as the movie goes on and this is due to the Indominus Rex’s seeming invincibility and cunning. As more dinosaurs are introduced they run the risk of emasculating the image of some for the benefit of others, but a nice balance was played here as each dinosaurs defining skill was broadcast. It is interesting to see if potential future franchise films will be able to top this offering or will have to offer vastly new creations and settings.
Jurassic World is an amazingly fun film, I was captivated for the entirely and it was able to provide fear, anticipation, laughs and jaw dropping imagery throughout. I wish Jurassic World was a real thing, as I would enjoy interacting with some Herbivores, but alas, we see the perils of caging such large beasts. Trying to recreate the park wasn’t a great idea for the poor tourists who ventured there but making a movie and continuing this monster movie defining franchise was a very good idea indeed. If Godzilla left you underwhelmed and films like Sharknado are just too lowbrow, this is the perfect mid ground of story and visual spectacle that will have you churning through popcorn. A true blockbuster.