22 years after Jurassic Park suffered tragic loss and repercussions, John Hammond’s vision is finally fully realised with a fully-functioning dinosaur theme park. But with visitor numbers dropping and corporate demands increasing, a laboratory-made new attraction is introduced. What could go wrong?
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Staring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Judy Greer
Run Time: 124 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now
It’s been 14 years since Jurassic Park 3, a creatively- and critically-underwhelming conclusion to the original trilogy. Plans for a fourth outing in the series have been stuck in development hell for the best part of ten years, early trailers have been levelled with sexism claims and a director unknown to many; it’s safe to say that there were a few red flags waving wildly over on Isla Nublar.
Wisely avoiding the reboot route – a move many are only too keen to make these days – Trevorrow instead decides to work events from the much-loved original into his vision of Michael Crichton’s classic book. It’s been 22 years since John Hammond’s dream of de-extincted dinos running free became reality, with frightening results, and now ‘eighth richest man in the world’ Simon Masrani is running things, with the intention of giving the public something fun and cool to look at. Early on, the film’s message is clear; no-one is ever satisfied, things must always be improved upon, everything must be bigger, better and faster. That cautionary tale should probably be heeded.
Taking the classic monster movie approach, it goes a good 20 minutes before we actually see any dinosaurs, but once they come, they never leave. And at the centre of all things; the new “wow” factor, a genetically-spliced feature, the Indominus Rex. All along, the moral question at the heart of Jurassic Park has been whether it is right to do something, just because we can. Should dinosaurs have been left extinct, even though de-extinction was possible. It also makes Indo (I think we’re familiar enough to assign a nickname) a rather unique movie villain inasmuch as he is not simply an animal doing what is second nature and surviving. After spending its life so far locked up in the same four (very high) walls, he is learned, intelligent and quite simply hellbent on killing all in his path.
And in his path would be those humans. Of which, Pratt confirms his position as Hollywood’s go-to leading man. Indeed, Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t a one-off. Away from the Marvel spotlight, this confirms it; he is for real. If Kathleen Kennedy is watching, Indy’s hat and whip may have found their new home. On this occasion however, Pratt is not the star turn of the piece, for that honour goes to his fellow dino fighter. Comprehensively fighting back against those claims of sexism following a trailer that now was clearly not viewed in the right context, Howard is excellent as Claire Dearing, who starts the movie more concerned with sponsors and visitor happiness and ends proceedings a flare-wielding hero. Unfortunately, though predictably, the script calls for the leads to have a romantic history. A familiar crutch assigned to most male/female leads these days, though as Mad Max: Fury Road memorably showed, a man and woman do not need to end up in each other’s arms when all is said and done, there is something to be said for a platonic, respectful relationship.
Elsewhere, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson are fine as Gray and Zach, though they’re not a patch on Tim and Lex from the original outing. Disappointingly, it feels that the main bulk of character development was spent on the two leads and the raptors; the film’s villains, D’Onofrio’s Hoskins, in particular, feels unfinished and rather one-note. After his magnificent turn in Marvel’s Daredevil – and yes, seeing Star Lord battle wits and ideals with Kingpin is pleasing – many will find themselves let down with what D’Onofrio has to work with here. BD Wong, the only returning cast member from the original film, gets a lot more here than he had back in ’93, but still never really gets the chance to assert himself as a character.
Let’s face it though, you will not be going to see this film for wonderfully-written characters and plentiful human relations, you’re coming for dinosaurs. Thankfully, Trevorrow and his team of ILM digital magicians bring the goods, these dinos look the part. Credit also to Michael Giacchino, who takes over from John Williams on the score, but smartly retains those famous Jurassic Park musical strains that will take you back to when John Hammond first welcomed you to his park.
In a time where today’s biggest movies are based around superheroes, giant robots or super-fast cars, Jurassic World steps up and comfortably establishes itself not only as the best sequel in the series yet, but a bona fide blockbuster. For that is what this is; a blockbuster, in every sense of the word. As stated, when the dinosaurs show up, they don’t go, and when the action finally gets started, you won’t see too many movies this year that will provide more non-stop action. Trevorrow has almost belied his supposed inexperience here, seamlessly creating a heart-pounding, CGI-filled epic that will have something for everyone. And I would be remiss for not mentioning that glorious, genuinely thrilling ending, complete with possibly the best fist-pumping, triumphant pay-off you will see all year. Fans of the original will love the winks and nods, while new viewers will now want to go back and see what all the fuss was about.
People will always be wary of sequels, reboots or anything that brings a risk of damaging something loved. Given the lengthy battle to bring this to reality, or pre-release controversies or fears, Jurassic World faces everything head-on and bats it away in style.