REVIEW: Jurassic World

Jurassic World

Contains PLOT SPOILERS – Go and watch the film before reading this!

Jurassic Park is one of the greatest movies of all time, fact. It’s incredible that the original film was released 22 years ago but still holds up to modern standards and expectations. Many point to it as the moment Steven Speilberg went from being a great filmmaker to a legendary one. As a result this movie has a lot to live up to but it more than delivers. Two previous sequels were made and should still be watched and enjoyed. However, Jurassic World is a proper sequel to the original movie and completely ignores their existence. Therefore Jurassic World has to be seen as Jurassic Park 2.

Despite the events of the first film, Isla Nublar has become a fully functioning visitor attraction showcasing living dinosaurs resurrected through advanced scientific technologies. However, after over 20 years the simple existence of these once extinct creatures is no longer a drawing card for the crowds. With the pressure of investors to appease the need to maintain revenue is vitally important for the continued operation of the park. The solution, as is true of any major attraction, is to continue developing their attractions, in this case the dinosaurs. The result of this is a genetically modified hybrid, created to deliver the most fearsome dinosaur ever, the Indominus Rex. Predictably the results of this meddling with nature are catastrophic, once again. Admittedly, this is not an original concept. It’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but with a prehistoric twist. As you can imagine, all does not go according to plan.

Some have been quick to criticise the character of Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Personally, I thought she was excellent. As the General Manager her responsibility to deliver attendances has led to the boundary pushing in the laboratory. Claire sees her dinosaur attractions merely as assets. Speilberg used Jurassic Park to show dinosaurs as animals and this film takes it further. Claire’s perspective distinguishes the creatures in a different way than has been presented previously, something which Vincent D’Onofrio’s character Hoskins has also done, seeing the Velociraptors for their potential as weapons. This then differs strongly from Chris Pratt’s character Owen, who sees them as animals and builds a relationship with them. Another perspective is then provided by Claire’s nephews, particularly the young Gray, who sees the dinosaur attractions as a mind blowing experience of great excitement. Even the hormonal teenager Zach gets caught up in the excitement of the enormous Mosasaurus. Overall, Speilberg’s initial idea of allowing the viewers to see dinosaurs in a different way from simple big screen monsters has been taken to new and advanced lengths.

Any fans of the original film will see plenty of parallels and recreated moments. Where Park was ground breaking, World takes it to the next level. For example, there are more Gallimimus flocking across the landscape and they look even better with 20 years of CGI advancement. There is also an emotional scene of an Apatosaurus dying after being attacked by Indominus. In Jurassic Park there is a nice scene of a Brachiosaurus eating from a tree as Dr Grant, Lex and Tim take shelter. This is amplified in Jurassic World with another animatronic creation, an Apatosaurus that can now act convincingly, so much so as to draw real tears from this viewer with its demise. We also get to revisit locations and vehicles synonymous with the original film, which is respectfully done with a genuine fondness for what came before. But Jurassic World then lifts the bar spectacularly. The scene of the Mossasaurus eating a shark has been well trailed. The allegory is clear. Jurassic World sets out to eat ‘Jaws’ for breakfast. And so it does. ‘Jaws’ is a masterclass in tension and suspense but Jurassic World matches it step for step. The carefully crafted and artfully delivered revelations of Indominus as he stalks his prey are superb, notably with its encounter with the gyrosphere.

Seeing the film as just a typical summer blockbuster is unfair because it also has incredible depths to it. It is a disaster movie with flawless CGI. It challenges the way we treat our natural world and the creatures that live in it. It provides a warning against the dangers of scientific advancement. It even passes comment on consumerism. The film suggests that the park acts to deliver attractions that the public demand, the next big thing, more exciting, scarier, more teeth. Admittedly, there is plenty of product-placement which one has come to expect from modern summer blockbusters, Hilton hotels, Coca Cola, Starbucks and a very unsubtle shot of a Mercedes – Benz SUV coupe. So although it makes a comment on consumerism it still has to submit to it. But when the action does get serious all these distractions disappear.

The conclusion of the story is suitably grandiose and spectacular. I watched the film in IMAX 3D and was completely worth it. It is only right that ultimately the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the hero of the film, the star of Jurassic Park in 1993 returns to triumph once more, with the final shots of the film having the potential to become as iconic as the T-Rex in the visitor centre originally.

I am surprised by criticisms of the film, comments concerning sexism, the preposterousness of Claire running around in heels and being impractically dressed. I didn’t see that myself. Her character was the General Manager of the most complicated amusement attraction in the world and there is no indication that she got that position based on reasons other than her merit. After a conversation with her sister Claire realises how important her nephews are to her, hence her determination to find them and get them home safe. I wasn’t overly invested emotionally in the two lads, caring not if they made it out alive or not. They are clumsy characterisations, a typical teenager more interested in ogling girls than his younger brother and so in order to bring them closer together for the moments it matters a transparent conversation about their parents potentially divorcing is shoehorned in. However, the standard of the action sequences means you do not need to be carried along by concern for the characters; you enjoy the ride of the unfolding chaos instead.

Ultimately Jurassic World is flawless in its execution of a big summer blockbuster, recapturing the magic of the original and blowing viewers away with astonishing spectacle. It is more than a simple relaunch platform for the Jurassic Park brand but is also a multi-layered piece of film-making which is thought provoking and challenging on a variety of topics that few films would even attempt to approach. Jurassic World is therefore a superb film which comfortably matches the achievements of the original Jurassic Park, and dare I say it, even exceeds them.

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