Dinosaurs are fucking cool. That is just a fact. Everyone has at some point been filled by fascination when thinking about these giant creatures, which lived before our time on this planet. It’s that feeling of wonder which makes Jurassic Park one of the most iconic films of all time. It’s a feeling that Colin Trevorrow has been tasked with recapturing in Jurassic World.
Twenty years after the events of Jurassic Park, the theme park is now a working thing and in fact has become such a part of life, that people are bored with it. It’s this that leads the boffins behind the scene to create Indominous Rex, a genetic hybrid which is bigger and scarier than anything else they have. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly intelligent and unsurprisingly manages to break out of its enclosure and start causing havoc.
Jurassic Park is a film that includes dinosaurs but isn’t actually about dinosaurs. It’s about the characters in it and humanities inability to just let things go, for the good and the bad. It’s a classic Spielberg film that leaves you caring about that world and just happens to have a huge T-Rex causing havoc. Jurassic World is a film about a giant dinosaur causing havoc and despite attempts to be more than that, it never manages to be so.
Now that is not necessarily bad, in fact, it’s often incredibly entertaining. There are moments in Jurassic World which are huge in scale and you can tell the studio have gone out to make this bigger and badder than anything they have done before. The special effects don’t have the heft of the animatronics that were used to such great effect in the first film, but on the whole watching this giant dino engage in battle with man and beast alike is great fun.
However, when it tries to get past that it just doesn’t work. It makes jibes at the commercialisation of the park and how dinosaurs alone should be enough and yet then goes on and has the film plastered in product placement and ramps everything up to eleven. It is great that filmmakers like Colin Trevorrow are aware of Hollywood’s problems and he is obviously a smart director, but if you just continue to do it anyway, it kind of negates your point.
There’s also the problem that the characters in here are entirely painted in broad strokes. Chris Pratt essentially plays Chris Pratt and while I am a big fan of that, we have seen it already. His character, Owen Grady, spends his days training Velociraptors and making quips, but apart from that we are giving little reason to care. While his quip trading partner, Bryce Dallas Howard, plays an uptight female executive. It’s not bad and she does a good job in the role, but in a two-hour film I feel like I should know a bit more about her than that.
All of this feels very negative and the truth is I actually really enjoyed Jurassic World. The final act in particular is a wonderful romp of ridiculousness ,which just requires you to turn off your brain and enjoy it. There are points about how we treat animals in captivity, which hark to the chilling documentary Blackfish, and that’s a strong idea which deserves to be followed further. Sadly, it is just another thing that gets to a certain point and is then stopped in order to get back to a giant dinosaur smashing something.
Some time does have to be taken to pay credit to some of the supporting cast in this film. The likes of Jake Johnson as Lowery, who works in the parks control room and provides the films greatest comic moment. While Vincent D’Onofrio is wonderfully villanous as Vic Hoskins, the corporate guy who wants to train dinosaurs to be used in war. Even further down the pecking order there are some truly brilliant moments involving people just working and visiting the park. It’s the kind of film that has huge crowd shots, which you could watch time after time and see something different each time.
Jurassic World is a brilliantly good fun and taken by itself it would be a big dumb blockbuster that we could all enjoy and fall in love with. However, the problems come when you begin to compare it to the original. Jurassic Park is and always will be a classic. Jurassic World is another Hollywood blockbuster which while fun, will probably struggle to stay in the mind for half as long.