Film Review: Jurassic World

I was a big fan of the Jurassic Park films growing up, so how does the new one compare?

Jurassic World – Colin Trevorrow

Science Fiction/Adventure

Released: 11th June, 2015

 

Christmas 1996, that was my first time watching Jurassic Park, I don’t think I watched all of it, I was too frightened to sit through the whole film, especially when the Velociraptors turn up. However, it left some impression on me and a few years later I managed to sit down and watch the original on a VHS tape. Later that year, The Lost World was released and I was brave enough to go see it in the cinema with my parents.

Now it has been 22 years since the release of the Steven Spielberg masterpiece which redefined the visual effects industry in a way no film since Star Wars has managed, it also took a monster bite out of the box office. A new indie director, Colin Trevorrow, has taken the reins of the prehistoric beast and seems to fare well.

The plot at its simplest is a dinosaur theme park – Jurassic World – has been in operation for almost 10 years. To keep guests interested and profits healthy, the park is putting the final preparations on unveiling a new hybrid dinosaur, Indominus Rex, that’s bigger and meaner than Tyrannosaurus. It breaks loose and begins to cause havoc across the island.

Rumours of a fourth Jurassic Park movie had been floating around soon after the third film, which was poorly received on release. It certainly has gotten worse with time, while I found myself enjoying the second film more alongside the original. What is interesting going into Jurassic World is that this film seems to completely sideline the two sequels, although there are a few easter eggs eluding to them.

So far I am reviewing this film on a single viewing, I feel like a second viewing would allow me to compose my thoughts more, but while it is fresh in my mind here are my thoughts…

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Jurassic World is great fun, it is certainly a summer blockbuster with a lot of action and amazing visual effects to delight the crowd. The film takes the franchise in a fresh direction and has plenty of nods to the original. I thoroughly enjoyed the thrill ride, and for a first time directing a multi-million dollar film, Trevorrow skilfully positions the camera to heighten tension and show off the action without too much dreaded shaky-cam.

The lead actors played by Chris Pratt (Owen) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire), do a pretty good job with the script, and don’t seem too wooden in their delivery. Although there was criticism of Claire’s stubborn, overly-organised manner in a preview clip, during the film the character surprises Owen (and the audience) with some quick thinking in the heat of the moment.

Pratt seems the be having fun in his role as the animal trainer/park ranger, encompassing some of the characters of Grant & Malcolm into one. With his knowledge of the animals and his predictions the hybrid is just a disaster waiting to happen.

The return of B.D Wong as Dr Henry Wu from the original film has been a great opportunity to flesh out his character more than the single scene he had in Jurassic Park. Especially as he had been a major character in the novel. I felt like his key scene with Masrani could been made more in-depth however.

Although there is no Tim & Lex, the two brothers played by Ty Simpkins (Gray) and Nick Robinson (Zach), are almost copies of them. Gray is the nerdy younger brother and Zach is more interested in keeping up with his social media stream and eyeing up the ladies. However they continue the trend of children in the Jurassic films to be resourceful and not always need the adults help to survive.

Two of Jurassic World’s new side characters are Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), leading InGen Security, and Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), owner of the park after Hammond. Hoskins leads a new military sub-plot that feels sort of overused by Hollywood at this stage, that the military-industrial complex is bad! It also feels like a remnant of the terrible script ideas for the fourth film that had been based on the idea of human-dinosaur hybrids.

Meanwhile, the park’s owner, who feels like he should be a key character, is really a side part that felt underused. Masrani makes a few bad decisions throughout the film, but he doesn’t seem to be driven by money, instead he has the personality of a billionaire playboy and wants to make sure the park’s guests have a good time. I feel like I need to seek out the Masrani Corporation viral video to get more of a backstory on him.

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The hybrid dinosaur concept also feels like a concept that was being tossed around in years of rewrites as the fourth film came into focus. Here however it has some sense, and while I was skeptical at first when the trailer came out, the film did a fairly good job of making the case as to why the park decides to make a hybrid instead of just adding a new species. The Indominus Rex also brings more of a monster movie/frankenstein theme than the previous films. However that initial lesson of mankind being careful of playing God and messing with the natural world remains a keystone. It also serves as a warning to corporate greed and a desire to always be bigger and better, which funnily enough also seems to refer to the film itself too. Clever Girl.

Another area of massive debate among fans was the concept of training Velociraptors. The trailers made it seem they are tame and do all of Owen’s bidding, however if you actually watch the film, the raptors remain fierce and dangerous creatures which are to be treated with the utmost respect if you don’t want to lose a limb. The film’s director also noted he was fascinated with those special relationships some animal trainers have with big cats, such as lions and tigers, as inspiration.

Michael Giacchino’s score for Jurassic World was fairly strong, it had a few new music melodies that stand up on their own. In particular the InGen and Indominus Rex motifs, while John Williams’ original music is used in a few key scenes to bring some awe and stir the hearts of fans everywhere. Giacchino also very smartly paid homage to his first musical work, The Lost World Video Game, by using his melody for the Velociraptors from the game in the new film.

My biggest issues with Jurassic World were that some characters felt underused and there were a few sub-plots that could been dropped entirely as they are mentioned for a scene and then almost never referred to again.

Also unlike the original Jurassic Park, the film didn’t seek to explore its themes and let its character’s debate them very much. Some of the most riveting and memorable scenes from the first film are not the dino carnage, but the arguments and discussions the main characters have with each other. Jurassic World had moments where it almost did this, scenes involving discussions and arguments with Masrani and Wu, Owen and Claire, Owen and Hoskins were all great but felt like they covered the bare minimum the plot needed to proceed on and didn’t let the audience really take a moment to pause.

Overall Jurassic World is a great entry in the Jurassic Park franchise, it stuck to the central moral themes of the original while also paying great homage to it in some scenes. The action was more intense and gorier than earlier films, but tension felt just right. It is not as clever as the original, but it is far superior than the third film and would say it ranks in quality alongside the second film, The Lost World. It’s wonderful to have the franchise bought back from extinction.

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