Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, B. D Wong, Omar Sy, Lauren Lapkus
Plot: To add more hype to their dinosaur theme park, a group of scientist cook up a super predator for Jurassic Park.
Why am I a Jurassic Park fan? My love of dinosaurs has slowly been extinguished over the years, especially seeing as Jurassic Park’s genetic versions of the prehistoric reptiles aren’t really historically accurate (would that kitchen scene be the same if the Raptors were glorified chickens?). However, I have never stopped loving Jurassic Park. That first movie is cinema at its best, expertly paced and beautifully action-packed. Sadly, the following two were hollow shells of its former self. Jurassic Park III had its moments and The Lost World, while pushing at the boundaries of belief, was okay. However, it has been a long time before we have seen a Jurassic Park movie that is truly brilliant. Jurassic World is finally that film I have been waiting 21 years for.
No, it’s not quite perfect. For one, the length is a bit excessive. In order to get us up to speed with the new story, there is a fair bit of exposition to get through. We have to introduce the fractured relationship between Bryce Dallas Howards’ park manager and her nephews. There is the taming of the raptors, which needs a fair bit of discussion before the audience is ready to find this feasible (thankfully, I can confirm it works). And, of course, the movie needs to set up its baddie, the Indominus Rex, the genetically engineered dinosaur that escapes and ends up besieging the Park in a bloody rampage across Isla Nublar. However, once that description is in the past, the action rarely lets up. Yes, it is a long movie, but it is hardly ever dull. The last half an hour is everything we could ever hope for, including one tremendous scene that is beyond anything our expectations could come up with. And in it is in these moments that Jurassic World earns its stripes, and then some. What was missing from the Jurassic Park sequels that the original had? Jurassic World knows and that is its biggest strength. The key ingredient that makes a Jurassic Park movie is spectacle: set-pieces that just blow your mind away. The awe that strikes you as you see a Diplodocus march across the cinema screen. A lingering frame of the island, filled with luscious green and beautiful prehistoric animals, that takes your breath away. Jurassic Park had that, and Jurassic World manages to rediscover that atmosphere. I was worried, after the first trailer, that the use of CGI would steal from the animatronic joy Stan Winston created, but my fears were disbanded. There is a reason the movie opens with Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson’s teenager heroes, rather than the more conventional movie leads – they are our eyes for this story and we are going to be returned to that childhood state of mind we watched the first movie with. Watching Jurassic World reduced me to that kid at Christmas opening a present for the first time. Exhilarating joy. And that is how a Jurassic Park movie should feel.
It is important to note that Jurassic World probably boast the most impressive human characters the movie has had to date yet. Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum got by with their charming personalities, but their characters weren’t overly extensive. Here, we are given some fantastic characters to follow, miles away from the screaming woman Tea Leoni played in the last one. We want them to survive, rather than hoping one of them trips when running from the raptors. Bryce Dallas Howard has never been better and given the best character arc in the story. She is a number-cruncher, not really fascinated by the dinosaurs she shows to the public on a day-to-day basis. While her sister goes through a messy divorce, she is meant to be looking after her two nephews, the teenage leads here, but she has no idea how to connect with them. One scene sees her realise she hasn’t got a clue how old they are. As she is thrown into the nightmare every Jurassic Park character is doomed to go through, she connects with her life. She opens up, reaches and touches the dinosaurs she had condemned to being little more than numbers on a piece of paper. Chris Pratt might be everyone’s favourite, as the beast-master, simply because his charm is irresistible, even when he is given a lead balloon of a line to come out with, but it is Howard that is the heart of the movie, even if she starts out as frosty as they come. The supporting cast are also fun to follow, miles away from the faceless red shirts we are used to. Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus provide comic relief in the command centre. Irrfan Khan is the Hammond-esque figure, yet miles away from Richard Attenborough’s different performance. I also appreciated the moralisation of the different characters. Seeing B.D Wong’s rationalisation versus Khan’s idealistic theme park idea was a juicy scene, tossing and turning the themes Trevorrow wants to discuss. Are we excessive as consumers? Are the park keepers being humane to their attractions or cruel? Do these animals even count as animals? Jurassic World isn’t just fun; it is rather intelligent.
But that doesn’t matter. We are here for the dinosaurs. Some audience members might be dissuaded that the supporting dinosaurs don’t get much face time. The Mosasaur is little more than a cameo creature (although it is a show-stealer with every appearance!), the Pretodactyls get a brief look-in and little time is spent with the herbivores, an important part of the mystique of Jurassic Park. No, full attention is given to the Indominus Rex. Thankfully, it is a fantastic new addition to the franchise. Eerie white scales, slender long arms and a size so immense, it struggles to actually fit into each frame, often looming in the background of its scenes. It is the intelligence of the creature that truly resonates. One fight scene between it and an Ankylosaurus is key. You can see the genetic animal working out the best angle, as it meets this new dino for the first time. It learns to avoid the club, figures out how to get past its thick armour and moves in for the kill. You actually can read all this from the creature’s body language, making it a fascinating movie monster. At one point, we pity the animal, imprisoned in its enclosure since birth, its only functional relationship with the crane that brings it its food. Then it escapes and starts killing for sport. When you first see a field of poor dinosaurs, mortally wounded and left bleeding out, the Indominus Rex becomes something that needs to be killed. It is a villain, pure and simple. But what about the old faithful dinosaurs? The Raptors are kept to the side-lines for most of the movie, their taming subplot separated from the Indominus Rex’s killing spree. Then the two creatures collide. And suddenly Jurassic World becomes must-see cinema. You will leave the cinema grinning from ear to ear. You can genetically create any dinosaur you want, but the Raptors steal the show every time. Without fail.
Final Verdict: Finally a sequel worthy of the original. Lengthy in places, but otherwise an entertaining thrill ride. The Park is finally open.