Boy makes dinosaur. Boy likes dinosaur. Dinosaur gets loose. Dinosaur chases boy. Boy has second thoughts about dinosaur. Boy makes a sequel or two to get over it. A decade or two later and we have Jurassic World, a futuristic theme park that is just itching to go all Skynet on itself. Enter Park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who’s introducing a new hybrid dinosaur courtesy of possibly mad (definitely mad) Dr Wu (B.D. Wong) and is encouraged to bring in raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to ensure the new Indominus Rex can’t escape its cage. So when the Indominus Rex escapes its cage, it becomes a race against the clock: stop the dinosaur, save Dearing’s nephews who are visiting the Park for the weekend, and prevent hostile military dude Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) from turning the hybrid dinos into a military asset. Will they do it? Yes. I’d say spoiler, but it’s really not.
From the get go, Jurassic World harks back to the blockbusters of ten years ago. The old school approach to action, humour, pathos and horror combines the safety of a film you know you’re going to love with the promise of some stunning new CGI scares.
Perhaps the scariest thing (other than the dinosaurs) is how realistic the visitors to the park are. Deliciously in-keeping with our modern day need for instant gratification and super-fast desensitisation to the spectacular. The combination of living monsters of the past and themed fried foods is enough to make you weep for a time when a raptor alone was enough to give you some jollies.
What seems to have been taken for granted about this film is the outrageously tongue in cheek way the premise for the film mimics the inception and production of the film itself. The audience likes dinosaurs, but it’s not excited by the same attractions over and over again. So what do the people making the attractions do? They make some bigger and badder dinosaur to scare the dung out of the ticket-buying public. Maybe if it had worked out in the film, the park visitors would have cheered for the Indominus Rex as much as they have from the cinema seats.
Let’s just set the blindingly obvious straight: It’s not November anymore, we’re not looking for the painfully melancholy or the devastatingly sardonic. It’s the summertime and we want a ruddy block to bust. So let’s focus on the things that hold Jurassic World back as a summer smash. First off, the characters are a little two-dimensional. Sometimes, a lot two-dimensional.
The main culprit of this is Hoskins, who seems to be hell-bent on the idea of militarising dinosaurs for use against whatever foreign threat he deems deserving of having their faces eaten off. Not only that, but he seems to be completely psychopathic whilst remaining an idiot.
At one point he’s standing on the roof of the command centre watching people being attacked by pterodactyls and grinning, which is a level of evil that is far too deep and twisted to be dealt with by a dino-flick in barely two hours.
This is one example of the film stretching itself a little too thin at times, dipping its toe in pools that are filled with dull, uncooperative hermit crabs. Whether its Claire’s sister and her apparently dwindling and undramatic relationship with her husband, or park-owner Simon Masrani’s love of helicopters and oddly timed death, there were a fair few uncooked potatoes stealing the heat from the steak…in this metaphor they’re all in the oven.
Jurassic World treads a very unstable log between legacy and self-reliance, plunging feet into either side seemingly effortlessly but always deliberately. There are more than enough callbacks in Trevorrow’s expansive Park to keep sales of the Jurassic Park anniversary Blu-Ray up and rumours of hidden connections between Spielberg’s and Trevorrow’s stories sizzling away. But at the same time, there is a very believable alternate reality where Jurassic World exists and Jurassic Park 1, 2 and 3 do not. As a sequel however, Jurassic World does exactly what a legacy movie should do and what George Miller just did with Mad Max: Fury Road – it makes you think fondly of the original and forget the questionable filler movies in between.
The plot has feet of steel that know when to creep, know when to run and definitely know when to kick. Are there too many jokes? I dunno, ask the Marvel Universe. They’ll probably answer with a pun and you’ll enjoy it like we all do. Because what’s a summer blockbuster without a little silliness? It’s dry, it’s unbearably serious and not nearly as self-aware as it should be. Fortunately, Jurassic World has no lack of self-awareness. So go and see it fools!