The park is open
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt; Bryce Dallas Howard; Ty Simpkins; Vincent D’Onofrio
John Hammond’s vision is alive. The park is operational and no expense has been spared. But visitors are dwindling and profits are dropping, it seems that people just aren’t as excited about dinosaurs anymore. So in an attempt to boost attendance numbers, the boys in the lab cook up the Indominus Rex: a test tube created dinosaur hybrid, bigger and scarier than anything seen before…and of course, it gets out.
That is our plot for the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, the world created by Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel and later brought to life in the beloved Steven Spielberg film, 22 years ago.
I was skeptical of Jurassic World from the trailer. It seemed like Indominus Rex and the training of raptors would come across as gimmicks; and that the purpose for which Indominus Rex was created in the film, was the same as why it was created for the film: ‘the audience is getting bored, let’s make a bigger dinosaur’.
In many respects this is true, but gimmicks or not, they work. Indominus Rex is a formidable villain and it is easy to buy into the pure chaos that is created when this intelligent and adaptive monster escapes and begins ‘killing for sport’. Likewise, the raptor training sequences are perhaps the best of the film. What I thought would be a gimmick turned out to be an original idea that worked well.
The characters populating Jurassic World are charismatic, but undeniably one-dimensional. There is Clare, the stressed and always busy park operations manager played by Bryce Dallas Howard. As Clare’s control of the park is thrown into disarray, she learns that there is more to life than work and also gradually loses her clothes (although she keeps the high heels despite all the running). Then there’s Owen, the grounded and cocky hero played by Chris Pratt. Owen is level-headed and quick to point out the errors of man meddling with nature. There’s the two siblings, one wide-eyed and enthused, the other uninterested and bored. Throw in a passionate and visionary CEO, a couple of awkward IT guys and all the tropes are here.
Although the characters in Jurassic World are serviceable, they are a far cry from Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Richard Attenborough who brought such charm to the first movie. Any of the above could have held up a spin-off of movie of their own (and did in the case of Goldblum and Neil), but with the exception of the enigmatic Chris Pratt, the same cannot be said of our cast of Jurassic World.
But really, how can anyone compete with Jeff Golblum?
Jurassic World is littered with humor and comic relief moments. Humor has always been present in the Jurassic Park movies, but it was never a staple. Here the humor was a bit out of place, not because it was unfunny, but because it felt so scripted. In Jurassic Park the humor seemed to flow naturally from the characters’ interactions and Goldblum’s eccentric Ian Malcom; but in Jurassic World, it seems obvious that the jokes were written beforehand with a punch-line in mind. This realisation has the effect of taking you out of the movie.
While Jurassic World lacks the heart, charm and characters of the first film, it succeeds in the action, suspense and nostalgia factor. There are plenty of throwbacks that will make you grin. The dinosaurs themselves are also done well,with some use of animatronics and not-terrible CGI.
I know I am making a lot of comparisons to the original Jurassic Park, which may be unfair. However this is a movie built upon the nostalgia and love of that original film, so it is natural that such comparisons be made. The big question is, is it as good as the first? Absolutely not. But then again, it was never going to be. It is debatable if it is as good as the Lost World, but beyond a doubt is it better than Jurassic Park 3.
All comparisons aside however, Jurassic World succeeds as its own film and stands upon its own hind legs.
★ ★ ★☆☆
Pick up the blu-ray here.