FILM: Jurassic World

Certificate: PG-13
Running Time: 124 mins
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure
Country: USA
Leave it, lads.  They're not worth it.
It’s been two decades since the original park disaster saw hungry, hungry dinos on the loose and park employees swallowed up whole so that no Worker’s Comp claim could be filed.  Since then we’ve seen two sequels retconned (which is a shame as I’ve a soft spot for The Lost World) and an all-new, and hugely successful park open up.

They say the blockbuster game is a risky business, and with the amount of dollah(!) on the line you can understand how but it’s risky in an entirely different way too.  In JW retconning JP2 & 3, there’s almost an arrogance to its production; a statement of intent that it will be better than the preceding sequels and therefore “more” worthy of following up the 1993 original.  When it pays off the results are one of expectation, as the filmmakers have already announced retconning specific sequels, but when it doesn’t you’re left with a problematic, deviant account of the cinematic history of that world which can kill the franchise deader than the dinos… see?!... we knew where we were going with that all along.

The cancelled movie Hamster World saw dinosaurs go to a theme park
to look at giant hamsters.
Irrfan Khan’s (Masrani) new park is like something out of the excellent PlayStation 2 Jurassic Park: Genesis (brilliant game!), an incredibly polished, perfectly choreographed theme land which delivers so many upfront encounters with the one-time kings of the planet that attendance have started to drop off meaning new, more elaborate exhibitions are required to keep the people coming back for more… there is honestly no pleasing some folk.  Enter BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu) the one-surviving “friendly face” from the original era and an even greater thumb in the eye to the man upstairs as the JW scientists not only use science to bring back the lizard beasts but with the little help of CTL+C, and CTL+V, do a mashup and create an all new, super species of dinosaur with a lot of new tricks.  Is this a good idea?  What’s going to happen next?

Yeah, exactly.  Beasts on the loose, humans on the menu and egg on the face of everyone who has been wanting to push the boundaries.  Chris Pratt (Owen) is a really great piece of casting.  Parks & Recreation showcased his comedic skill, Guardians of the Galaxy – his ability to carry a movie as an action lead, and in Jurassic World we’re treated to a little bit of a more serious side.  An an ex-Navy Seal, Owen is brought into the park to handle, wrangle, whisper the raptors (I know, suspend disbelief) and in doing so he demonstrates a physical presence which must put him in first place for the much touted Indiana Jones reboot.  Bryce Dallas Howard (as Claire) doles out a great little performance too as workaholic, emotion-shy aunt of the two boys in peril who, over the course of two-hours, learns to love and kick ass with the best of them.  For the most part, and with the exception of Jake Johnston’s small (yet perfectly formed cameo), that is where the character development ends.  Each performer on-screen either furthers the narrative of Owen/Claire or is dino bait… and that’s fine.

Shamu has REALLY let himself go!
It saddens me that in this new JW timeline there is no room for TLW because I have such a love of it, but in a way it is understandable.  A lot of the narrative and mise-en-scene of JW lingers in the paw prints of the first movie.  In so, so many ways it’s a love letter to the wonderment that was instilled in the audience 22 years ago when we first witnessed Jurassic Park, and for TLW to still “count” during this epic love-in could be a little… awkward.  Most of Jurassic World’s heart stems from its relationship to, interplay with and examination of how far we have traveled from the first installment.  There are some really beautiful moments, not to mention some interesting questions about the fatalistic nature of humanity when you bookend the two decades with the two movies.  There are a few narrative flaws though, the biggest one being Hoskins' (D’Onofrio) apparent hard-on for a “military application” for the raptors.  It simply doesn’t work, it doesn’t fit, it feels extremely tacked on, illogical and is little more than an accident they’ve scheduled to happen in the final third.  I love Vincent.  If you’re uncertain of that read any of the Daredevil reviews but he’s a very ill-fit and it’s down to the writing.

The biggest problem with Jurassic World is one of the biggest credits of Jurassic Park.  The film is very heavily littered with CGI.  Watching it, even upon release, you could see where elements of the graphic work had already aged and having watched JP recently in Bangor it only added to JW’s failings as its predecessor has held up remarkably well.  In fact, in many parts it looks infinitely better than a movie that is barely six months old.  This is not a film that will age as well.  The face-lift at fifteen generation have almost guaranteed that nothing out of this era is going to look particularly attractive in thirty years time but that final fight…

You're not singin', you're not singin'...
Oh how the CGI is worth it for that final fight!  Not to give too much away but Trevorrow has method to his madness.  He’s scheduled to director Star Wars: Episode IX, which should give you insight into how well considered his imagination is in Hollywood.  Somehow, every shortcoming with JW is made ok by the film’s climatic set piece.  The training of the raptors – fine, military application – grand, annoying children – yup, even the heavy reliance on CGI is great because we get a toe-to-toe like no other.  Forget Mayweather hugging his way through 12 rounds, Jurassic World had the fight of the century… nay, the greatest fight on the planet ever.

It’s not unusual to see a blockbuster with a lot of CGI.  It’s not usual to see a blockbuster with plot holes.  It’s not unusual to see a blockbuster with limited character development, foreseeable plot devices or it’s own iPad game but it is unusual to see a blockbuster with heart.  Jurassic World has a 200lb heart and it’s hard not to love a film that loves a film we love so much.



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