In 1993 the American summer blockbuster season heralded a diverse range of box offices successes. Including Sylvester Stallone’s action film Cliffhanger, the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan vehicle Sleepless in Seattle, Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire, Clint Eastwood’s In the Line of Fire and finally the $920 million extravaganza that was Jurassic Park directed by Mr Steven Spielberg. In the same year Spielberg also released Schindler’s List. In 1997 he returned with the hugely successful yet underwhelming sequel then in 2001 Joe Johnston delivered a tepid uninspired Jurassic Park III. In 2015 Colin Trevorrow reignites the franchise delivering a highly enjoyable 150 million blockbuster, complete with spectacular action set pieces, impressive visual effects and a splattering of dry humour.
Jurassic World has its flaws, some characters are broadly drawn, the plot is a retread of the original and explanations of the hokey science challenge credulity. But these are largely overcome by the jaw dropping visual effects, Trevorrow’s surprising capacity to stage the big action set pieces without ignoring the smaller intimate moments, and Chris Pratt’s capacity to anchor any film with his effortless charisma.
The narrative begins as two young boys set off on a holiday of a lifetime, to Jurassic World, a Disneyland type theme park full of dinosaurs. Sound familiar! The older boy Zach (Nick Robinson) is girl crazy, whilst the younger boy Gray (Ty Simpkins) salivates at the thought of seeing dinosaurs up close and personal. Aunty Claire (Howard) is the workaholic operations manager of the park owned by billionaire Simon Masrani (Khan). The John Williams original score kicks in, Pratt emerges as a Raptor whisperer, the kids go off road and pretty soon all hell breaks loose with the escape of the new dinosaur/monster. Homages to the original film, Hitchcock’s The Birds and Free Willy are deployed as Steve McQueen/Chris Pratt move into action to save the humans from themselves.
As Roger Ebert once said of Spielberg, “To make a good film is very difficult. To make a popular movie is not easy. To make both, is the holy grail which Hollywood seeks with the same fervour that Indy Jones devoted to the holy grail.” Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) initially seemed an odd choice to steer such an enormous project, however the final result demonstrates sometimes the long shot pays off this time in a billion plus at the box office.