Title: Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Screenwriter: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Michael Crichton (characters)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson
Release Date: Out Now
Review By: Dave Griffiths
22 years ago this week we were all walking into cinemas expecting to be wowed by the fact that visionary director Steven Spielberg had brought dinosaurs to life on the screen in a way that nobody would have predicted. Here we are two decades later and once again the expectation of getting to see dinosaurs on the big screen has our cinematic pulses beating in a mammoth way.
The big question you ask yourself when heading into Jurassic World is what can we expect this time around? This is the fourth installment in a franchise, that let’s be honest peaked with the first film, so we shouldn’t be expecting much, right? Wrong! Maybe it is the fact that I’m one of the those people that can spend hours staring at dinosaur bones in a museum and feel like a little kid again but Jurassic World has breathed some life back into this franchise in such a way that I’m now eager to see where they will go next time around.
Jurassic World sees John Hammond’s dream from Jurassic Park finally come true. Owned by the world’s eighth richest man, Masraini (Irrfan Khan – Life Of Pi) Jurassic World is a fully functional theme park (that looks alarmingly like Sea World from the air) where people of all ages can come and see all kinds of dinosaurs up close and in more importantly… alive.
The park is kept operational by the hard work of marketing manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard – The Help) and Navy man turned dinosaur whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt – Guardians Of The Galaxy) who have been able to find a medium that allows the park to be financially stable and also a lot safer for those visiting the Park.
However, as is the case with all movies in the Jurassic franchise something has to go wrong. And here in Jurassic World we learn that the park has genetically invented their own new specie of dinosaur by mixing and matching DNA from various other kinds of dinosaur. While Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong – Jurassic Park) sees this creation as a massive step-forward for science and Claire sees it as a great way to attract more sponsorship and people to the Park, only Owen seems to realise the dangerous situation that this has put them in – there is now a genetically modified dinosaur around that nobody has any idea what is capable of. That of course is something that impresses the gruff Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio – Law & Order: Criminal Intent) who plans on turning dinosaurs into weapons for the military, but sadly soon places the lives of all at the park, including Claire’s nephews Gray (Ty Simpkins – Iron Man 3) and Zach (Nick Robinson – The Kings Of Summer), in real danger.
There are positives and negatives with Jurassic World but first let’s kick off the big plus – the director. Handing Colin Trevorrow the keys to one of the biggest franchises in the world was a massive risk for Steven Spielberg to make. We knew Trevorrow was a great director, that was very, very clear with his feature debut Safety Not Guaranteed, but at the end of the day that was a small indie sci-fi so it was a real unknown how Trevorrow would react working on a film that cost $100s of millions more to make.
The answer to be brutally honest is that Trevorrow is exactly what this franchise needed. Okay so maybe he doesn’t make this film ‘family friendly’ like the ‘political trendy’s’ would want him to do, but what he does deliver is some truly memorable scenes. The pterodactyl attack on the park visitors is one of the best feathered creature aerial attacks that we have seen since Hitchcock’s iconic The Birds, while Trevorrow will please serious movie fans with some pretty gruesome dinosaur attacks on humans and dinosaurs alike. And while I don’t want to spoil the great finale let’s just say that is a battle scene that will please dinosaur fans and monster movie geeks to the core… suck it up Godzilla you just got owned. Trevorrow takes some massive risks and to his credit they really pay off.
Sadly though, there is also a downside to Jurassic World and it lies right at the feet at the screenwriters. Sure this screenplay got the tick of approval from Steven Spielberg but like so many of his recent films Jurassic World falls into the trap of having clichéd characters. Movie lovers see the too-busy-for-children-or-a-partner businesswoman like Claire in every second film these days, while on the other hand it seems like Owen may have been based on one of Spielberg’s other great creations, Indiana Jones. From his wardrobe down Owen is a screaming Indy clone… not that that is a bad thing because he is still one of the most likable characters in the film.
The other big weakness is the fact that even though Trevorrow sets up pretty early on that he is not afraid to allow his dinosaurs to be a little full-on with their attacks there is a real feel that aside from the clichéd bad guys nobody that the audience really likes amongst the characters are going to meet their deaths today and that sadly takes away from some of the suspense that Trevorrow worked so hard to build up.
Having pointed out those two things though the plusses of Jurassic World do outweigh the negatives. There are small things all throughout this film that are going to impress fans of this franchise to no end. First of all the filmmakers have chosen to celebrate and pay tribute to the film that kicked this all off rather than ignore it. There is nothing more annoying about a reboot then when you are told as an audience you are supposed to ignore that films have been set in this world before. In Jurassic World you are quickly shown that this isn’t the case here. From a well placed Hammond statue at the park to a employee showing Claire his Jurassic Park T-Shirt he found online and the old park itself playing an important part later on it is easy to see that Jurassic World embraces its predecessor rather than ignoring it.
This might be really film geeky but the other thing that I really enjoyed about Jurassic World was the fact that the film didn’t mind making fun of itself. Lines such as ‘I can’t wait to tell Mum about this’ being responded to with ‘Don’t you DARE tell your Mum about this’ actually make characters like Claire likable, while a character turning to their co-worker for a kiss during a stressed situation only to be told ‘umm…I have a boyfriend’ show that the filmmakers were more than aware that they were making a popcorn action movie and this wink to the audience shows that they were perfectly happy to do that.
While the clichéd characters do make it hard for the actors to really stand out Jurassic World does once again show us what Guardians Of The Galaxy already screamed from the rooftops – Chris Pratt is the your perfect leading man. He can be funny, the ladies seem to like him, he’s blokey enough for guys to love as well and he is a more than capable action hero. At the moment if you want to put bums on seats than Pratt is your go to guy. The people responsible for casting also need to be congratulated for putting ‘serious’ actors into even some of the smaller roles because it is a lot more refreshing to watch talented actors like Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan and Vincent D’Onofrio in roles that many may feel is beneath them than it is to watch blow-ins deliver bad performances. Also Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson also reveal themselves as young stars to watch in the future.
The key to enjoying Jurassic World is to go to the cinema just expecting your normal popcorn action movie. There is nothing in Jurassic World that is going to make it one of the best action movies of all time but it is still enjoyable and does more than enough to keep its audience interested one hundred per cent of the time. The nods to Jurassic Park will keep fans of the franchise happy while Trevorrow’s eagerness to bring in some more dinosaur brutality does more than enough to please the monster movie fans out there. Not high art but still the best Jurassic movie since the original.