The park is open. John Hammond's dream of an active and fully operational Jurassic Park has come true and business is booming, but to keep visitors and investors pleased, the park needs to up the ante. In the labs run by Dr Henry Wu, a new breed of Dinosaur has been created, a splice between a T-Rex and some other classified species. When this new attraction escapes captivity, the park and all of its guests are put in immediate danger.
22 years after the events of the original Jurassic Park, Jurassic World introduces fans to a whole new cast of characters in a fully operational dinosaur theme park. Young Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) go on holiday to Jurassic World to spend some time with their Aunt played by Bryce Dallas Howard who just happens to be the woman in charge of the park. Joining Zach, Gray and Claire (Dallas Howard) in this horrific turn of events is Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) who tames and monitors the Velociraptors in Jurassic World, he is brought on board to hunt down the new dinosaur, titled, Indominus Rex and save the park.
Jurassic World is a lot of fun, there's no doubt about it. Seeing John Hammond's dream come true was a miraculous site to behold and witnessing Dinosaurs up on the big screen again will surely make audiences happy. But...Jurassic World is really a mixed bag, there's some good and unfortunately quite a bit of bad here.
The cast is great, Chris Pratt, fresh of his excellent work in Guardians Of The Galaxy leads the film and does a great job. His character is witty, strong and fits within this world. Bryce Dallas Howard is surprisingly very good here too, her estranged relationship with her nephews, Zach and Gray was fun and had a well rounded arch, she doesn't leave as much of an impact as Laura Dern did in the original film, but she's a great character.
The weakest character in the film was actually played by the great Vincent D'Onforio, hot of his critically acclaimed performance in Marvel's Daredevil, he plays a cartoon character here. His hope is to weaponize the Velociraptors, he's a tough ex military guy and he just wants to make the world safe by taking advantage of these incredibly intelligent and complex animals. After seeing how Owen 'controls' the Raptors, he thinks they can be used in military operations, to spare the lives of our own soldiers. His goals felt silly, out of place and often wasted scenes and the way his arch ends couldn't have been more predictable if it tried.
Zach and Gray tour the park and during their Gyrosphere ride, the park is put into lock down and they become separated from the rest of the visitors. The film focuses on two sets of characters, Owen and Claire who are trying to stop the Indominus and rescue Zach and Gray who we switch to whilst they are trying to stay hidden from the Indominus. Each set of scenes offered something exciting, Zach and Gray's scenes played on the horror of a Dinosaur loose in a theme park, especially in an excellent scene in which the Indominus is attempting to eat the children whilst they're in the Gyrosphere.
The Indominus Rex is a genetically modified hybrid dino that doesn't act like an animal, but more so like a serial killer. Lurking in the shadows, taunting its prey to eventually spring out and kill everything in site, without ever eating. The Indominus' abilities seem to be endless and all of them seem to be there to just to serve the plot and keep it moving forward. Owen states "that's not a Dinosaur" and he's right, this is a monster, a Frankenstein esque splice simply out there to kill for sport. The monster has no goal, no intention other than to cause chaos which only makes you love the original Dinosaurs that much more. The Indominus shows no intention of escaping captivity, no intention of surviving, it lives to kill. The design of the creature is great and similar to the way it acts, Trevorrow shoots the creature as if it is a monster. At one point in the film the creature uses a camouflage ability that for some strange reason it never uses again.
Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) directs the fourth film in the Jurassic franchise and does a decent job, the mistake he often makes is with the film's tone. Jurassic World is often distractingly inconsistent in its tone and is never sure what it wants to be. One second the film is a light hearted adventure, then a very serious monster movie, the mix didn't work and often the films levity would detract from the more serious scenes. The story of the film is simple and Trevorrow structures it well and the pacing is good, not a lot of scenes felt dragged out and the film does move at a decent speed.
The film looks marvelous and the visual effects are excellent, but fans of the original will be disappointed when they discover that 90% of the Dinosaurs are CGI. The original film is praised for its blend of animatronics and CGI; Spielberg used authentic puppets and animatronics when shooting the Dinosaurs up close, and then would switch to a CG Dinosaur when needed. I believe there are only a couple of actual models used in the film, and CGI is used even when the filmmakers could have used models. There are a number of times when the film could have used an animatronic dinosaur, and we even heard from the set that models were being used, but for some strange reason the filmmakers decided against it and the film lost the magic and tangibility of the original.
Reference is made to the events of the first film but it never felt forced, the script and Trevorrow did a great job of respecting that classic film and making the events of it feel relevant in this picture. When Jake Johnson's Lowery comes to work in a Jurassic Park shirt, Claire calls him up on it, saying that the horrific events that once took place on Isla Nublar should not be mentioned as they don't want their park, which is built on top of the former park, to suffer a similar fate. There are little easter eggs scattered throughout the film which should give any fan a smile but Jurassic World does stand on it's own, this a contained story which doesn't lead off into inevitable sequels and it was refreshing to see in today's franchise obsessed Hollywood.
Jurassic World is somewhat a satire unto itself, the movie itself is the exact thing it's criticizing. Visitors to Jurassic World want more spectacle, more dinosaurs, yet the experiment ends up failing and in some ways this can be interpreted as to what the film has done. The ante is upped, there are more visual effects and bigger explosions and somehow it never matches up with the excellence of the original, even the finale stresses this and you'll understand what I mean when you see the film. I'm still not sure whether or not this self awareness and irony was intentional or just a ridiculous coincidence.
The original was a commentary on the state of science, how we perhaps shouldn't medal with science like we do, maybe the Dinosaurs went extinct for a reason and man should not taint that as Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) stressed in the original. Jurassic World continues that commentary here and adds to it, this film is more so a commentary on the state of audiences today, as Claire points out "kids see a Stegosaurus and see an Elephant", today's world is no longer blown away by Dinosaurs hence why the Indominus Rex is created; "bigger, meaner, more teeth" to bring in more visitors and investors for the park.
Michael Giacchino's magnificently recreates John Williams' iconic score and serves up some great original music as well, but it is often misplaced. The classic theme is often used without any purpose. The theme was used in the original to put the audience in a state of awe, it accompanied beautiful shots of the island as well as shots of dinosaurs but here it's just thrown in scenes where Zach and Gray are first arriving to the island, running into their hotel room and it feels out of place, of course this isn't always the case, but there are a couple of moments where a less awe-inspiring piece of music could have been used instead.
Jurassic World tries, it really does, but it does fail to recapture the magic of the original film and there is a lot of wasted potential here, other than in the final act where everything is put to good use and leaves fans with a very exciting if not predictable finale that should make any fan, old or new, shiver with excitement.
Jurassic World is a good time and is packed full of moments that will leave you smiling, but whenever Dinosaurs aren't up on screen, the film lacks, the dialogue and characters aren't nearly as memorable or impactful as they were in the original and if anything, this sequel will just make you want to re-visit the first film. Despite the film's issues, this is a wildly entertaining ride with some of the years best cinematic moments that should leave you satisfied.
Have you seen Jurassic World? If so, let me know what you thought about it in comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97