“If something chases you, run”
I should have run when the Jurassic World trailers chased me But my curiosity got the better of me and, like half the population of planet Earth, I bought a ticket to see Jurassic World. And, whilst not the worst film in the franchise (hello Jurassic Park III!), it is a film almost devoid of entertainment, terror and awe. They were three key features in Jurassic Park that defined it as a classic. Jurassic World blunders along, throwing as much chaos as it can at the screen, but without leaving many impressions on the viewer.
Isla Nublar has been transformed from Jurassic Park to Jurassic World, a successful theme park. Yes, even after the chaos and deaths of the first three films, John Hammond’s vision has somehow become a reality. The scientists (including Dr. Wu) have created the Indomitus Rex, a synthetic hybrid monster dinosaur. Claire Dearing hopes that the Indomitus Rex will increase attendance. In an almost fourth-wall breaking discussion, Claire says that people are desensitized to dinosaurs. The shareholders of Jurassic World want better returns on their investments, and a theme park of boring dinosaurs is not enough. Of course, in reality, that’s true. From the first Jurassic Park to Walking With Dinosaurs, we’ve seen CGI’d dinos on the big and small screens for twenty or so years. How can Jurassic World overcome familiarity breeding contempt and bring something new to the table?
The answer: it doesn’t. The first half an hour of the film drags. I appreciate a slow build, but there was nothing to keep the audience invested. The two kids, nephews of Claire, add little to the story. Claire seems like a conduit to tell us why we should appreciate Jurassic World (look, we are doing something different! A hybrid dino!). Simon Masrani, the owner of Jurassic World, tells Claire to accept that in Jurassic World “you are never in control.” Well, coming from the owner, that is very reassuring! Owen Grady leaves a few smiles on the face, even though his raptor taming abilities seem a little far-fetched. However, his interactions with Vic Hoskins (a wasted Vincent D’Onofrio) drag the opening half an hour of the film down even more. Hoskins is the generic army man who wants to use dinos in the army. He’s one of the many elements of the film that are half-played out. “Struggle breeds greatness,” Hoskins says, but the struggle to bring this film to the screen has not led to greatness.
“Nothing is real in Jurassic World”
Of course, anything that can go wrong will go wrong in a Jurassic Park film. The Indomitus Rex escapes after fooling Grady and Claire. Chaos ensues, the Irex causes havoc while the humans don’t really know what to do. Both Misrani and Claire initially refuse to kill the Irex, as it cost a lot of money and human lives mean less than money. Misrani confronts Dr. Wu, who is calmly drinking tea. Dr. Wu tells Misrani that he demanded creatures that are “bigger, scarier, and…cooler.”
And that’s the problem with the film. The minds behind the film have demanded something bigger, scarier and cooler, but in doing so forgot what made the original so bloody good. The IRex is 50 feet tall. It roars and roars and roars, a deafening roar that isn’t scary so much as eardrum-poppingly annoying. Apart from the IRex and a brief showing from the Mosasaurs, the other dinos have been done to death. The raptors have featured prominently in every Jurassic film, and once again, they hold great importance. The T-Rex features in the last battle, something we’ve seen in the first two films. The T-Rex battling a bigger dino? In Jurassic World, it’s the IRex vs the T-Rex, but in Jurassic Park III it was the T-Rex vs the Spinosaurus. The raptors coming to the rescue of the humans in the face of a massive dinosaur? Yes, we’ve seen that before in Jurassic Park. Everything is bigger, louder and bloodier (yes, the amount of the red stuff in this film is unbelievable!), but bigger, louder and bloodier do not make a film scary or terrifying.
Not only that, but there’s no sense of wonder in any sense. At the beginning, the classic theme tune roars out as the boys see…the theme park itself? Not as they see a dinosaur, but the theme park. Boring! No sense of wonder, especially nothing like seeing the brachiosaurus in Jurassic Park. That was an open-mouthed, unparalleled scene of awe expertly made by Steven Spielberg. The shot of the theme park, in comparison, looks plain and unappealing. The many throwbacks and nods towards the first Jurassic Park only make one hunger to see Jurassic Park again.
“Is this what you had in mind?”
The only redeeming feature is Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, as Jeff Goldblum was one of the only redeeming features of The Lost World. He’s funny, likeable, and shows no overt character development over the film. Some of the other characters are given character development, but it’s half-hearted and lackadaisical. Claire, a child-averse (Alan Grant?) business lady, becomes a kick-ass protector of her nephews for a few moments…but then burst in to tears and gets all emotional…until becomes a kick-ass protector and….bursting into tears again! The kids don’t seem to grow in any shape or form. Hoskin’s plot is scattered and nonsensical.
All in all, a terrible disappointment. Jurassic World pokes fun at itself with all the talk about corporate sponsors and people wanting things bigger and louder, but never practices what it preaches. The theme park is full of brand names: Starbucks, Ben and Jerrys, Pandora, to name but a few. The kids have Beats headphones. The villain of the piece, the IRex, is bigger and louder, but not scary. We see too much of it, too often. Of course, it’s popcorn fare, and shouldn’t be analysed too much. But I thought popcorn fare was supposed to be fun? From illogical set-pieces to cardboard characters to plot lines that are brought up and then dropped, Jurassic World is far from fun. It may not be the worst film in the franchise, but it’s not much better than Jurassic Park III.
VERDICT: 3/10. Jurassic World roars louder than the other films, but it’s roar is worse that it’s bite. A dull, dull film that nods to Jurassic Park whilst forgetting what made the original special in the first place.