12 June 2015

Jurassic World Review

Before I begin, I have to say that I didn't have the same childhood experience with the Jurassic Park series as a lot of people. The first time I watched Jurassic Park was when it was re-released in the cinemas a few years ago and I haven't watched the sequels, so I don't have the same nostalgic connection to the franchise. That said, I do think Jurassic Park is one of the best blockbusters ever made and when this film was announced, I was looking forward to it, especially when I heard about the involvement of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver considering the great work they did rebooting the Planet of the Apes series. After watching the film, I have to say that this series has become a B-Movie series, and a fun one at that.
The film takes place around 20 years after the events of the original Jurassic Park (and seems to ignore the sequels from what I can tell) where the park has been completed and is a major tourist attraction. However, the interest in dinosaurs has started to decline since they've become so commonplace and the owners of the park have turned to genetic engineering to create new dinosaurs. However, the dinosaur they created ends up escaping and the park staff have to contain the dinosaur (the I-Rex) before it reaches the tourists. This is a classic B-Movie, "don't mess with nature" plot and for a film like this, it's the plot that you would expect. However, they do manage to get a good bit of satire in there regarding focus groups demands being considered over what is actually needed and the corporatisation of science, with the park containing big brands like Pandora, Ben and Jerry's and Starbucks, along with the I-Rex itself being sponsored by Verizon. This is a clever way to update the whole idea of Jurassic Park and makes the most sense considering the whole aspect of the park. When the film focuses on this aspect it works really well. However, most of the focus in this film goes towards the military applications of dinosaurs and this whole plot is incredibly generic and not interesting in the slightest. This whole plot eats into the whole idea of genetic engineering since it was obvious from the start that the I-Rex was designed for military applications rather than for tourists. All of the characters in this subplot are incredibly one-note and some of them have their characterisation that was set up earlier on in the film eaten up by this plot. It's pretty clear that this whole plot was created just to lead into another Jurassic Park film with paramilitary dinosaurs (which does sound incredibly awesome by the way) but it didn't need to be in this film.

The characters in the film as a whole feel very one-note, and it's the talents of the cast that make them memorable. Owen Grady is written as a generic badass, who has a lot of respect for the animals and isn't given any character flaws. The writing around him isn't that interesting but he becomes likable simply due to being played by Chris Pratt, who is likable in everything. The same is true for Claire, who is the standard workoholic seen in way too many romantic comedies, and again this character is made interesting and likable, not through the writing but through the performance of Bryce Dallas Howard. Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins as Claire's nephews Zach and Gray are pretty likable, but they are some of the worst written characters in the film, they only have one character trait each, Zach is a womaniser and Gray likes dinosaurs, and one of the major plots points about them is brought up once, with no prior set-up then completely ignored, it feels like there were major rewrites concerning these characters. Irrfan Khan is also pretty likable as Masrani, the owner of Jurassic World, who follows in the vein of John Hammond, being a 'spare no expense' kind of guy who is more concerned about the happiness of the customers and the dinosaurs than in profits and who is willing to do whatever it takes to prevent the I-Rex from reaching the tourists and he is incredibly charming throughout the film. Good work is also done by Omar Sy as Grady's fellow tamer Barry; Jake Johnson as one of the technicians who is a dinosaur lover and who is more in agreement with John Hammond's vision for the park over the new direction, even wearing a Jurassic Park t-shirt throughout the film and BD Wong, since it's always great to see BD Wong, even if his actions in this film don't line up with how his character was portrayed in the first film. The biggest problem with the cast though is Vincent D'Onofrio. After giving an incredibly villain performance as Wilson Fisk in the Daredevil series he gives an incredibly generic villain performance here, one we've seen hundreds of times before and is a performance D'Onofrio could do in his sleep, with nothing really special coming through.

The technical aspects of the film however are brilliantly done. Considering that his only prior directorial experience was in the indie scene, Colin Trevorrow acquits himself well with blockbuster direction. The entire design of everything is very crisp and reminiscent of Spielberg's direction in the first film. He also doesn't skimp around on the more horrific elements of the dinosaur attacks, with there being a fair amount of blood for a 12A rated film. He also puts in a lot of throwbacks to the original film, from the statue of John Hammond in the information centre, to the appearance of Mr DNA, to a section of the film set in the information centre of the original film. The whole design of Jurassic World itself very effectively brings across the theme park vibe, with it definitely being a place that you would want to visit. The music is also effective, I had a massive grin hearing the John Williams theme again and Michael Giacchino's music fits into this style very effectively. The real star of the technical side of the film though are the effects and the action scenes. The effects work as well as they can for this film, although the lack of animatronics does hurt the film a bit and the I-Rex design isn't as scary as it could have been. All of these work though in the action sequences, which take advantage of every trait for all of the dinosaurs in the film and are actually quite brutal when you get down to it. All of this comes into fruition in the final act which is easily the best part of the film. Sure it's where the military stuff comes to the forefront but it's also the most fun part of the film. We get the scenes of Chris Pratt riding a motorbike alongside a team of trained velociraptors, which is just as awesome as I thought it would be. The final action scene meanwhile is a massive love letter to the best parts of the original film, and is full of moments, so silly, so cheesy and yet so awesome that I couldn't help but love it.

Overall, Jurassic World is a pretty decent film. Sure the characters aren't written that well and the military subplot takes up way too much of the film, but the performances are incredibly likable, especially Chris Pratt, the satirical elements of the story work really well and the action scenes are things of glorious silliness. This is just a glorified B-Movie and, for a film like this, that's not a bad thing at all.

My Rating: 3.5/5

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