Jurassic World, 2015.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow.
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Omar Sy, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Judy Greer, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson and B.D. Wong.
Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor’s interest, which backfires horribly.
In an age where the current trend is to rejuvenate long abandoned franchises with a shinier coat of paint known as CGI, Jurassic Park is one of the very few series that benefits from that fancy modern technology. I’ll always be a supporter of practical effects and doing everything the hard way, but two decades worth of advancements in cinema equate to being able to do shitloads of cool stuff with dinosaurs, more importantly stuff the original trilogy was incapable of pulling off.
Of course this results in a different approach tonally; it’s even mentioned in the movie that Jurassic World must be bigger and scarier. Director Colin Trevorrow uses this opportunity to add a dash of unexpected yet welcome satirical edge on the current state of Hollywood; consumers want new ideas and to see things they have never seen before, while it is up to corporations and focus groups to test a myriad of concepts in hopes of finding something that makes gangbusters. The analogy here is with the Jurassic World itself; it is hard to believe that an amusement park filled to the brim with living, breathing dinosaurs could lose its “wow factor” but it is, revenue is still climbing but so are costs. The solution: genetically splice different breeds of dinosaurs to create a mega-attraction.
Surely nothing can go wrong… Right?
Meet the Indominus-Rex, bigger than the Tyrannosaurus-Rex and raised in isolation. With no interactivity between similar species or humans, you bet your ass that when this thing breaks out of confinement all hell is going to break loose. This abomination only has one instinct; kill. It is also humongous, nasty, and strikes fear into audiences consistently throughout the movie. Trevorrow isn’t even concerned with the moral compass of his characters; good or bad the I-Rex (and all the other dinosaurs that subsequently escape) hand out brutal deaths. The most eye-wincing demise in Jurassic World doesn’t even go to a villain; it’s just an extended death scene to impose just how terrifying, dangerous, and uncontrollable these creatures are. Furthermore, Jurassic World‘s violence walks a fine line between PG-13 and R, offering up plenty of satisfactory blood splatters.
Speaking of control, all of the trailers led us to believe that Chris Pratt would be taming and riding into battle with velociraptors that trust him 100%, which thankfully is not the case. That idea sounded awful, so it is with pleasure that I report their relationship is severely dialed back from “Chris Pratt and an army of dinosaurs vs one monstrous lab creation”. His training is more of a work in progress, handled perfectly fine in the context of the plot. It doesn’t come across as silly in any way, and is actually strengthened by the co-existing subplot of Vincent D’Onofrio wanting to militarize the raptors.
Pratt’s charisma is also once again on display. He’s irresistibly funny, charming, and full of smart-ass back-talk, but Trevorrow makes a wise decision to crank that comedic personality down many notches once the shit hits the fan and this becomes an all-out war-zone where survival is paramount. This allows Pratt to showcase a side of intensity and more traditional action hero traits, which is for the best as seeing him sarcastically toss one-liners at both humans and creatures in the face of extreme peril would drastically feel out of place and unnecessary. It would probably ruin the entire movie.
Bryce Dallas Howard also has a gradual amount of character development, which should ease the mind of anyone that took Joss Whedon’s (director of Avengers: Age of Ultron) sexism comments to heart. She is in every respect an equal co-star to Chris Pratt here, becoming a completely different person as the movie progresses. The only way you could find Jurassic World sexist is if you object to the children of the film becoming more infatuated with Chris Pratt, but let’s face it, that makes sense. He’s the one riding alongside velociraptors with a motorcycle, while Bryce’s character arc is a more personal one centered on the separation of family and work. Some people also might be upset that she loses clothes (just a coat which reveals a tank top) as the movie goes on, but that would just be grasping at straws for anything to complain about.
The rest of the characters either work or don’t work. Most notably are the children who give average performances, but to be honest sometimes the material they are given is jarringly out of place. There is a scene where the youngest of the two starts crying about how their parents are getting a divorce. It was never brought up previously and never gets brought up again; instead it’s just a really weird scene to apply a poorly executed metaphor on Hollywood sequels. A number of their scenes also result in one of the film’s major flaws, which is that they are too resourceful. They literally fix-up a car that has been broken down since 1993. Also, whenever they are placed in insurmountable danger, they are miraculously saved by a far too convenient plot device like a river being nearby that they could plunge into.
Jurassic World also just isn’t effectively entertaining for the majority of its running time. The movie clearly tries to blow audiences’ minds over the course of its numerous action sequences, but quite a few of them fall flat. It’s only until the final 30 minutes where things really heat up and ultimately conclude with a battle that is admittedly freaking awesome. It’s nice that the best is saved for last, but also a shame that the rest of the movie can’t match that level of tension.
There is a little bit of everything in Jurassic World; bombastic action, comedy early on, social commentary on how big businesses operate, thematic messages regarding toying around with nature, and an excellent soundtrack (nostalgia kicks into overdrive upon hearing the classic theme), blood, scares, but the movie is marred by some shoddy writing and unfortunately being unable to deliver exciting edge-of-your-seat thrills until the final act. Still, the final product ended up a hell of a lot better than the disaster hinted at by the trailers. It’s also miles ahead of previous sequels in quality. There’s also a guy more concerned about securing his margaritas over becoming pterodactyl food, epitomizing that if nothing else, Jurassic World is the fun style of B-movie.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook
Listen to the Flickering Myth Podcast review of Jurassic World using the player below:
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