Title: Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Major Players: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio
Out Of Five: Four
Anybody who saw the original Jurassic Park in the early 90s will know what a ground breaker it was. We’d never seen anything like those dinosaurs and they paved the way for the special effects we get – and, indeed, expect – today. Which meant that, as its two sequels soon discovered, it was a very hard film to follow.
Jurassic World faces the same problem. Not only does it have to deliver those special effects – but at an even higher level – it also needs to give us something new. That’s a tall order for any film and, in all honesty, it can’t produce something with the novelty value of the original. So it gets as close as it can and unleashes a new and more frightening dinosaur, Indominus Rex. Actually, there’s a second new dino on the block, the aquatic Mosasaurus, but because it lives under water and only makes a few appearances, it’s easy to forget it.
Some 20 years after the events of Jurassic Park, but still on the island of Isla Nublar, there’s now a massive dinosaur theme park. Run by a big corporate, with the highly organised Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) at the helm, it has to keep coming up with new ideas to attract sponsors and bring even more people onto the island for the ultimate dinosaur experience. They’ve developed a new species, Indominus Rex, which is reaching maturity but, until now, has been living in captivity. Nobody really knows what it’s capable of – until it manages to escape.
As well as giving us a new monster, Jurassic World follows in the footsteps of the original with a rollicking piece of adventure, complete with some jump-in-your-seat moments, lots of action, more dinosaurs than you can shake a stick – or should that be dead shark? – at and a few laughs along the way. And it does it really rather well, especially if you go for the full 3-D, IMAX option.
It is, though, a rather old fashioned movie in that it sticks rigidly to all the conventions of the genre – and I do mean all of them. The romance between Claire and Owen (Chris Pratt) which, quite frankly, we could do without. The mandatory Spielberg convention of children with parents heading for divorce. The oldie but goodie, waiting some time before the Indominus is revealed in all her glory. And, of course, it’s all tied up neatly at the end but left open just enough for the possibility of a sequel.
I did fear that the movie’s conventional style was going to extend to Bryce Dallas Howard’s control freak Claire, when her reaction to getting her hands dirty was girly to the point of silly. There’s been some rumblings about the film being sexist and it starts out looking that way, but thankfully redeems itself when she proves to be pretty handy and practical. But I still haven’t worked out how she managed to run – at a decent speed – through forests and vegetation wearing 3 inch heels.
As for man of the moment Chris Pratt, he seems to be in the film to stake his claim to play Indiana Jones. He certainly looks the part, rifle slung across his back and riding his motorbike alongside the raptors. All he needs is the hat and the whip to complete the look. As for having what it takes, this doesn’t really show him off to his best advantage. What made him so appealing in Guardians Of The Galaxy was his quick, self-deprecating humour: that’s all been stripped away, so he just has to be a hero pure and simple, without too much in the way of character. Odd, really, because if I remember rightly, Indy wasn’t averse to a laugh or two.
For all its old fashioned, conventional feel, Jurassic World is a highly entertaining and exciting couple of hours. Don’t expect to see anything especially new – unless, of course, you didn’t see the first three Jurassic Parks – but do expect to have fun. Spielberg clearly hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to delivering a quality, action packed piece of family entertainment, even if he is producer this time rather than director. And, even though nothing’s confirmed as yet, I can’t believe there won’t be another in this franchise before too long.
Jurassic World is on general release now and is reviewed on the latest Talking Pictures podcast, which also includes an interview with Chris Pratt.