Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Greer
Amongst the many thoughts that ventured through my mind whilst watching Jurassic World, the most persistent and most prevalent was “Why aren’t I watching Jurassic Park right now?”. Rather than reinvigorating the franchise as it promised it would, Jurassic World merely affords a complimentary nostalgia and longing to go away and watch Steven Spielberg’s seminal blockbuster all over again.
Approximately twenty-two years after the original disaster, Isla Nublar has been refitted and repurposed and is now a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, complete with kayak water rides and baby dinosaur riding facilities for the kids. But after so many years, it turns out the sight of some extinct animal isn’t as exciting as it used to be. Operations Manager Claire (a relatively stiff Bryce Dallas Howard) promises investors a brand new attraction to wow audiences old and new, with the introduction of the park’s first fully engineered genetic hybrid dinosaur.
Meanwhile, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt basically auditioning for Indiana Jones) is busy training Velociraptors and keeping the snarly Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) from exploiting them and turning them into a military weapon. But then the genetic hybrid, Indominus Rex, escapes from captivity and goes on a murderous rampage killing anything and everything it lays its eyes upon.
For those looking to shut off their brains and engage in some dino mayhem, you won’t be disappointed with this fourth venture into the Jurassic franchise. For anyone looking for something more – which, to be honest, should always be the case – then Jurassic World is as soulless as the characters and CGI creatures that populate it.
Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was a masterclass in blockbuster filmmaking. With groundbreaking special effects, it was a film full of thrills and intense action, populated with characters we genuinely cared about. There’s a reason that movie is still as well loved twenty-two years after its release date.
Jurassic World more or less feels like it was put through the studio grinder, with numerous writers having a crack long before Colin Trevorrow and co-writer Derek Connolly were allowed to play in the sandpit, and it shows. Jurassic World is a film so riddled with plotholes, so weak on character development, and so devoid of anything resembling tension that the whole thing eventually becomes an incoherent mess. A giant hybrid dinosaur is on the loose and all you send is eight guys with stun guns and one tiny grappling net? Come on.
Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt do their best with underwritten roles, while the rest of the cast are reduced to mere stereotypes. Claire’s two nephews have little character beyond making stupid decisions and finding themselves constantly in peril, while D’Onofrio, who was so good in this year’s Daredevil, is no more than a heavy handed shoot-first-ask-questions-later military type whose fate is immediately sealed from the second he walks on screen.
However, not all is completely lost. A pterodactyl attack on the park’s visitors is a thrilling spectacle and Chris Pratt’s pack of trained raptors is an intriguing, though underused, part of the story. The idea of genetic mutation and playing Frankenstein for commercial purposes is also a potent concept, one very appropriate for the modern world. It all feels underplayed though, as if the film is merely riding on the perpetual popularity of the franchise, rather than coming up with new ways to thrill the audience.
Jurassic Park was about dinosaurs running amok in a theme park. Jurassic World should’ve been more, and as a paying audience, we deserve more.