22 years after Steven Spielberg and Industrial Light and Magic changed the face of CGI effects with Jurassic Park, the belated fourth entry arrives to take a bite out of the box office.
I won’t waste your time going into the minutia of the plot, in part because there is not a huge amount of plot to go into, but mostly because you already know the score. Dinosaurs run amuck on a remote island snacking on humans left, right and centre.
I saw the movie on opening day; such was the nostalgic interest in this belated sequel that even my dad was intrigued to see the results. Before this review gets a bit too rant laced for its own good (too late), let’s focus on what worked for Jurassic World.
What is to be applauded and enjoyed is the fact that Jurassic World doesn’t try to be anything more than what we want it to be. Dinosaurs gone wild. Spielberg’s touch echoes in a couple of key scenes, I can almost imagine the wry smile on his face when he was pitched the soon to be iconic death that involves the much hyped Mosasaurus. The special effects are super glossy, even if they don’t truly surpass the fine work done in the original movie.
Chris Pratt has the charm to spare, be it as a supporting player in Parks and Recreation, The Five-Year Engagement or leading man duties in Guardians of the Galaxy. Pratt’s Owen Grady is a shabbily written Saturday movie matinee idol that depends entirely on the actor’s natural wit. To call his character one dimensional would be an insult to one-dimensional characters, he has no shortage of one-liners but he is just going through the motions.
Before the hate mail arrives let me be clear, I’m a big fan of Chris Pratt when he has a good script to work from. Sadly, the combined talents of Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow didn’t equal a good script. The fact the screenplay is ropey feels like an impossibility as Jaffa and Silver were in on the rebooted Planet of the Apes scripts, and they were awesome.
The characters of Jurassic Park were a likeable motley crew, well apart from Dennis “You Didn’t Say The Magic Work” Nedrey. Jurassic World doesn’t seem too bothered if you like any of the characters, heck it actively wants you to cheer for their grizzly demise.
John Williams score is echoed more than once and it sent nostalgic shivers down my spine, that score is reprised at key scenes, and I had forgotten how much that little ditty could still trigger that sense of wonder. As we’re neatly on the subject of the original, there is some head scratching decisions being made by the owners of Jurassic World. The overgrown remains of the first park appear to have been built around, not knocked down or repurposed, but the erected the new park around the old one. MADNESS!
After an impressive turn in Marvel’s Daredevil, Vincent D’Noffreio plays token IGEN schemers Hoskins. We all know D’Noff is a skilled actor, but he is so cartoonish here he may as well be fucking animated. His big plan is to use dinosaurs for military applications, idiotic, and worse yet he looks perpetually confused throughout the whole affair.
Jurassic World is by far the most satisfying sequel to Spielberg’s classic, I remember seeing it at the cinema four times to awe at its wonder. 22 years on and Jurassic Park still impresses with its then groundbreaking visual effect, interestingly it remains better than many efforts from modern day blockbusters. Well, what do you expect from the man who directed the best shark movie of all time.
In a strange meta way the muddled plot serves as the embodiment of what is wrong with the movie as a whole. Humanity has become bored of dinosaurs being back, so to get them buying tickets a new genetically engineered monster is forced into existence by men in suits. The producers ramp up the threat and spectacle, but they forget one key component, the awe. Jurassic World has exceeded box office expectations and were officially has the biggest opening weekend of all time trophy on its shelf. As if that wasn’t enough, it is also the fastest movie in history to reach $1 billion worldwide. A sequel is certainly going to happen, it will just be a matter of time before Universal make it official.
I don’t want to sound too jaded and cynical as there is a lot to like about Jurassic World form an entertainment point of view. However, for all its impressive CGI, Chris Pratt quips and dino on dino action, Jurassic World is still no match for the original. As soon as Pratt swigs dreamily from a bottle of Coca-Cola, you know that there is no awe, no wonder and a massive helping of product placement on the way.
Perhaps the biggest issue is the lack of surprises, trailers today go out of their way to show too much to try and grab your attention. The infamous Mosasaurus already had 80% of its screen-time shown in the trailers, and the Raptor pack running with Pratt was another neat moment spoiled by the marketing.
As harsh as it sounds, Jurassic World owes more to Michael Bay’s school of filmmaking than Steven Spielberg’s. Oddly there is a lot of positively out there for Jurassic World and it has the box office to match, here’s hoping the sequel can be more Spielbergian. This movie just made me sad.