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.
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should” said Jeff Goldblum 22 years ago in the first Jurassic Park film. Change ‘scientists’ to ‘Marketing Team’ or ‘Studio Execs’ and this is exactly what I’d say to Universal Studio after seeing this tired and uninspired third sequel.
Gone is the wonder and awe of when Steven Spielberg first introduced audiences to a world of Dinosaurs walking the Earth right next to us, and instead we’re bombarded by the same template of stupidity, empty characters, tension-free action, and unconvincing effects which only serves to distance Jurassic World from the bygone days of when the term ‘movie magic’ could be applied and taken seriously. There is nothing magical or spellbinding about this by-the-numbers cash grab, and by constantly referencing the 1993 original all the film makers do is remind us of the ever decreasing standards for which passes as acceptable today.
Full disclosure right here: I’m not and have never been a huge admirer of the Jurassic Park films but I know quality when I see it and the 1993 film had quality moments – iconic moments – to spare. THAT T-Rex sequence still to this day puts a smile on my face in utter wonderment as to the technical achievements and they are just as effective today as they were when seeing them for the first time two decades ago. Watching the sequels it’s brutally obvious that there is not a second story worth telling for the first movie tied in absolutely everything one could wish to see; dinosaurs running amok in the present day shot by The Greatest Director Alive™. What have the three sequels added to this? With perhaps the exception of showing pterodactyl, the answer is emphatically nothing. Zilch. Nada. What they have done is put paper-thin characters in a setting where they can be chased by dinosaurs over and over again, because, after all, what else is there to show? But just because you can, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.
The plot here is dumb beyond belief; set in the same island where the tragic events of 1993 occurred and are explicitly mentioned (and grossly pandered to) it’s as if nothing ever happened and the best answer is to open a theme park with, not only the very same creatures who THE WORLD KNOWS killed and maimed their creators, but genetically modified versions, too. As if bringing dinosaurs back to life isn’t awe-inspiring enough, the rule of sequels is often to go bigger and dumber, especially when attempting to introduce to a new generation. But the four screenwriters (seldom a good sign in itself) don’t even allow us time to be convinced that the park is actually losing interest by showing it half empty and only then bringing in the idea of genetically modified versions as a break-through idea. The park is packed with people in every single shot! So if the film makers cannot be bothered to convince us of a semi-realised world, why should we ever care what happens thereafter? The chance to use an enclosed area filled to the brim with thousands of people has endless possibilities for inventive set pieces with peril and danger throughout, but director Colin Trevorrow gives one scene (handheld and full of smash zooms) to show the effects of what could happen in a place filled with prehistoric predators. And what of the plot to make dinosaurs into military weapons? The single most stupid idea in the four films without reservation, but my ultimate annoyance comes with trying to rationalise why this ever needed to be a plot line. Yes, it’s a ‘different’ approach than we’ve seen before, but that in no way should be mistaken for a good idea.
You know what the difference is between being chased by a ‘real’ dinosaur and being chased by a genetically modified one in the year 2015? Absolutely nothing at all. So with this fact in mind, wherein lies the reason to have such creatures? A T-Rex can rip you in half just as easily as a bigger dinosaur so quite what Jurassic World thinks is so clever about its parade of made-up creatures is never clear; moreover, it yet again removes itself from the awe of ‘what would happen if Dinosaurs could walk the Earth again’ and is closer than ever to the slew of creature movies which already exist. Godzilla, King Kong, Cloverfield, Pacific Rim all showed us fictional creatures attacking Earth so seeing the JP series go down that path, too, is especially frustrating and equally as boring.
Action aside, the plot is scattered all over the place and never once pulls all the stands together into one convincing story. Two kids without a shred of character are introduced just so there can be two kids because that’s what the other films did and yet we’re still forced to care about their parents and divorce; they’re also expert car mechanics, too, which is unveiled in one of the script’s more unintentionally hilarious moments. Chris Pratt has nothing to do except squint and Bryce Dallas Howard shows us how a woman can run away from a T-Rex in high heels, all pointing to signs that the film doesn’t care one single iota about the humans and only cares about the effects. Effects which are nowhere close to the believability of those used in 1993, yet not one, not two, not three, but FOUR CGI creatures are battling it out on-screen during the final damp squib of a finale. Moreover, the treatment of one character’s death in particular is pretty terrible considering they have done nothing wrong in the film for Trevorrow to hone in on their death with an extended scene such as is shown here.
What truly makes Jurassic World’s lack of originality and charm particularly egregious is that Universal have had 14 years since the last film to get it right – if indeed it could be ever be – but instead yet another empty and pointless exercise in cashing in on a brand name has come out the end of the blockbuster-by-committee assembly line. When John Williams’ beautiful original theme is first used to present a shot of a hotel room and man-made theme park, rather than Dinosaurs, you know exactly what kind of sub-par film experience you’re in for.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Rohan Morbey – follow me on Twitter
Listen to the Flickering Myth Podcast review of Jurassic World using the player below: