I have very fond memories of sitting down to watch Steven Spielberg’s 1993 movie Jurassic Park, a movie that was cutting edge in its use of animatronics and CGI. The movie touched on some deep issues, like playing god and where it can lead us, but that wasn’t the POINT of it. No, we loved that movie because of the action, the excitement and the FUN it brought us, and let me tell you now, the 2015 Colin Trevorrow movie takes that and amplifies it!
The premise for the movie is pretty straight forward and nothing original. Little is mentioned of the history of Jurassic Park movies parts 2-3 with Jurassic World laying its foundations some 22 years after the events of the first movie. Now we are in 2015 and much like everything in the world now, we want bigger and better. The new park has been doing steadily well for ten years or so but not as well as the execs want. So, what to do? Oh, I don’t know, nature finds a way. Let’s splice a whole bunch of DNA into a big, badass Indominus Rex that will blow the socks off not only the public, but the executives who want to invest. This idea of capitalism is pretty central to the movie and manifests in many different ways.
Jurassic World once again explores the idea of trying to do good but ultimately failing because we are obsessed with power and money. In this case Jurassic World owner Masrani (Irrfan Khan) is trying to bring magic to the public but realizes he needs to go bigger to keep the fickle crowed pleased. He is genuine in his goals which stand as stark contrast to those of park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who takes a very pragmatic approach to running the show. She is cold, calculating and pretty far removed from her family (to the point where she is too busy to see her two visiting nephews). She also makes the cardinal mistake of treating the dinosaurs as variables in a complex excel spread sheet (there to turn a profit) and ignores the advice of ‘dinowhisperer’ ™ (and ex-marine) Owen (Lord Chris Pratt). Of course the two have a romantic past because, reasons…
Owen is the one we all connect with because he is funny, brash, rude and also the only one who seems to understand the dinosaurs. As Owen points out, the animals are real and don’t know they were cooked up in a test-tube so they should be treated as such. Jurassic World spends little time on character exposition though which is usually not a good thing but this movie is about dinosaurs and teeth! Sure, we get some backstory for brothers Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson respectively) who do a good job with the material they have. We have the evil general-like Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) who is obsessed with turning raptors into weapons of war (weapons of mass extinction, folks?). And just to add more to the mix Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) who is doing his own illegal research in cahoots with Hoskins. But most characters are just there with enough depth to keep the story running along smoothly so that dinosaurs can wreak havoc. And that is why the film is so much fun, it isn’t trying to be deep.
The story follows Claire and Owen trying to save Gray and Zach after the park goes into lock-down and their desperate efforts to get them to safety. Even though this is nothing new, the way the tension is brought together is fresh. Trevorrow spares no expense in cleverly executing interesting and cool ideas to make it a spectacle of note. The wanton destruction and ensuing carnage will have you punching the air and gasping for more – like the chap who sat in front of me during
his screaming the screening.
Want to see Pratt on a motorcycle with his four raptors following? Got that! Want to see pterodactyls swoop over people and lift them to the heavens? Check. From raptors chasing vans to a team of heavily armed commandos hunting the Indominus Rex with red laser sights, the action barely lets up till the end and you’ll probably feel dizzy leaving the cinema. Just to note, although the movie is also meant for a ‘young’ audience there are quite a lot of visually disturbing scenes, scenes that may come back to haunt you when your child is banging on your door at 2am.
But for me the biggest thrill found in the movie was its nod to its predecessor, its play on conventions and palpable humour. Peppered throughout the movie are references to the first film, from the original jeeps, to a holographic depiction of fan-favourite ‘spitter’ dinosaur, and us oldies will encounter nostalgia as often as the heroes of Jurassic World encounter danger, death and munching sounds. There are also moments of pure cheese, to the point where the audience groans like a car under a 50 tonne dinosaur.
Colin Trevorrow uses these clichés to set up situations where the audience can feel the clichés are there on purpose. Whether it be the kiss between the two protagonists as they save the day (well, moment) or the ‘soothing’ words of Claire to her nephews as they fight for their lives, words which are literally just said because that is what you do in those situations. They are a play on what the original movie used, only back then they were taken seriously (it was Spielberg for goodness sake, he loves clichés!)
There are of course issues with the film. You never really worry about characters dying or really what is going to happen to them, instead the scares come from jump tactics, suspense and some very cool CGI – not the same as a menacing threat lurking in the bushes. It is also very self-referential, you KNOW it’s Jurassic World you’re watching, there is no doubt about it. From the plot that may as well have been lifted from the first film (even to the point of stealing embryos) to many situations the characters are put in (remember the car scene where two characters are getting squished by the T-Rex) there is a lot that isn’t new. Also coming out right after Mad Max may diminish the wow factor if you’ve seen it because make no mistake, Jurassic World is an action flick.
Jurassic World will make you jump, it will wow you and that is the point of the movie: it’s FUN. It isn’t a deep investigation into the nature of capitalism, it doesn’t explore families and how they change, because it isn’t trying to. Some people will say ‘it didn’t wow me as much as the first’. Well I have to ask them this, what more do you want? What do you need to wow you now if dinosaurs can’t do it? A genetic combination of many dinosaurs that turns into a monster dinosaur? Well, damn, we’ve got that here!
Last Updated: June 11, 2015
June 11, 2015 at 11:48
This looks as good as I hoped it to be.
One question: are the 3D effects “just there” or headache-inducing-raptor-in-the-face?
Always a biggie for me.