Owen: She’s killing for sport.
There are movies that are an essential fabric of our childhood, it introduces us to a world that we look back upon fondly once we are all grown up, some movies are the closest we can come to inventing a time machine. While I had watched many movies in theatre while growing up, Jurassic Park will always be one of the finest movie-going experiences of my life. It was the year 1993 (or was it 94?) when I first watched Jurassic Park in a theatre, my dad and I traveled all the way to the city with him being a stern parent throughout the journey. He had gotten me a bar of 5-star that I had hungrily gobbled up in a single go, quite taken aback to see chocolate smeared across my face as I had finished my conquest only boiled his blood. I had blissfully wolfed down a bar of chocolate without bothering how I looked in public while eating it.
“No popcorn for you during the interval, you are such an embarrassment!” he hissed in my ear. The whole joy of watching a movie increases exponentially when you have something to eat, with presumably no popcorn my enthusiasm for watching dinosaurs only simmered down. But then, who needed popcorn when there is Steven Spielberg to whet your appetite.
The rumbling John Williams background score as we see the first shot of the dinosaurs, the scenic shot of Isla Nublar, the iconic gates that opened us to the world of Jurassic Park, the shaking of the glass of water that indicated that the giant creatures were coming and how it got you at the edge of your seats. Spielberg took us back 65-million years ago, we didn’t have to imagine how a world with dinosaurs would have been, he had shown it to us even better than we could have ever imagined.
Spielberg had set the template for the disaster genre with Jaws, you don’t throw the audience right into it the action. You build up to the big event, you begin with introducing the characters showing how human they are, people with real problems who put it all behind them when calamity strikes, men and women who take charge and rise to the occasion. As for the creature, you don’t show it right away, he’s the star attraction of this feature. You show glimpses of it, there are trails of anecdotes that refer to it, that build its legend, and when the background score reaches a crescendo you unleash it upon the audience as it struts its stuff in all its glory. Spielberg of the 90’s was a showman of a different kind, he knew how to reel in the audience.
Jurassic World takes place two decades after the events of Jurassic Park, the park is open and fully functional, they also have a Starbucks cafe, and have Samsung as one of their sponsors (so much for subtle product placement). A shift in the philosophy takes place in these two decades. While it was initially conceived by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) as a park that was for the public with no talks of profit and loss thrown in, it is now seen as an opportunity to bring in more moolah. Dinosaurs are termed as “assets” and are engineered like they were attractions at Disneyland to bring in more crowd. When greed is coupled with a god complex, you know it is not going to end well.
In a disaster movie genre there are no complicated characters, characters are black or white, there is no middle path. Disaster movies always serve a purpose for a guessing game of who will survive and who will die, men who treat nature with respect, who are wary of its fury, survive, those who rebuke it or have an ulterior motive for using them, die. We find similar such characters in Jurassic World, it becomes quite easy to figure out who will leave the park dead, all that is left to be seen is the how. And that is what movies of such nature are all about, the hows.
The Indominus Rex is the wrecker-in-chief in Jurassic World, made from combining the DNA of other carnivorous dinosaurs it is a bigger and badder version of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Kept under wraps from the public, it is treated with respect stemming from fear of its huge size. They rope in the services of star dino trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) when it seems to have gone missing, but it turns out to be too little too late as I-Rex breaks out of the restricted area and starts to head toward the general public.
Director Colin Trevorrow, in only his second feature film, is asked to step into the largest shoes in the movie industry, and he does a great job of making the film visually appealing. He sets up the pace of the movie just right, he introduces us to the two boys who are off to the park to be under the guidance of their aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is in charge of the park and has little to no time for her nephews. There are certain superficial subplots thrown in, namely, the boys’ parents being on the verge of divorce, and a flimsy romance that never took off between the two lead actors. Trevorrow takes us through the park and shows us the dinosaurs in display, the raptors take the center stage until the I-Rex officially takes over.
Chris Pratt is an endearing actor, he shifts gears from the goofy Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy to a macho dino trainer in Jurassic World, however, he has nothing much to work with. His Owen Grady ends up being a one-dimensional action hero, smart and capable with brains and the brawn he shares a relationship with the dinosaurs that the suits that run the park take for granted. Bryce Dallas Howard as the businesslike Claire has her world centered around the parks control room, too immersed in her work she doesn’t even know how old her nephews are, let alone remembering when was the last time they met. It is when their lives are in danger does she seek the help of ace hunter/tracker Owen Grady and set off into the jungle in search of the boys. Irrfan Khan as Simon Masrani is Richard Hammond-like, the moral compass of the movie, and delivers a neat performance. Vincent D’onofrio as Vic Hoskins is the token bad guy who intends to use the dinosaurs as weapons of the future. Ty Simpkins (Gray) and Nick Robinson (Zach) as the two siblings turn in a mature performance, not the typical child actors that you see in a disaster movie.
There are the classic Jurassic Park memorabilia thrown in good measure to invoke a feeling of nostalgia–from the t-shirt, to the night vision goggles, to the jeeps–and it is a sheer delight, like looking at an old Polaroid photograph that brings back fond memories, which only makes you wonder why even make a sequel to an original that still stands the test of time. Some parks are better remained closed.