Saturday, 13 June 2015

Jurassic World

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Screenplay by: Rick Jaffa, Colin Trevorrow, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly

Twenty two years after the catastrophe at Jurassic Park, its replacement Jurassic World is a roaring success – with the slight issue of audiences becoming bored with dinosaurs. To counter this, InGen has developed something new: the Indominus Rex, a hybrid creation that will give a thrill like no other. It isn’t long before Jurassic World is suffering the same problems that devastated its predecessor…

Surely everyone is familiar with Jurassic Park? One of the most successful and beloved blockbusters ever made, but with two sequels of less stellar reputation. There hasn’t been an instalment in the franchise since Jurassic Park III, back in 2001. We’ve had to find other outlets for our big screen beasties, such as notable recent films like Pacific Rim and Godzilla…but there’s something different about them, isn’t there? Awesome, yes, and awe-inspiring, but what made Jurassic Park special to so many was the sense of wonder. We didn’t need to see the T-Rex ploughing through everything in sight to gasp (although we do, of course). All that was necessary was the sight of a vast brachiosaurus eating leaves.

Of course, a part of the wonder in that scene was the simple fact that it could be done. Jurassic Park had ground-breaking effects that still hold up remarkably well today. That isn’t enough these days though. Outstanding effects are ten a penny – we need more. This actually becomes a rather pleasingly meta plot point for Jurassic World. The big beastie this time around, the Indominus Rex, is not a natural dinosaur (in as much as dinosaurs cloned from fragments of DNA patched up with frog DNA amongst other things can be natural). It is a hybrid, bred because the public have become bored with dinosaurs. They’re common-place now. So the hybrid needs to be bigger, badder, scarier…It takes a predictably brief time for this to go tits up.

Predictability is probably Jurassic World’s biggest problem. You will rarely be surprised by the big twists and turns, even those that haven’t been explicitly featured in the trailers. It also rarely if ever quite captures that sense of wonder from the first film – the closest it gets is perhaps the scene with the Mosasaurus leaping from its tank.

While it may not match its illustrious predecessor on that score though, Jurassic World cannot be accused of lacking in spectacle. Or quality, to be honest. The advances in CGI since our first visit to Isla Nublar allow for some truly thrilling setpieces, and the finale is one of those rare cinematic moments that actually got me stifling audible cheers of glee (and there is one genuinely shocking moment, with easily the most brutal death scene thus far seen in the franchise).

Elsewhere, the script and cast are perfectly fine without ever being particularly special. Fans of Marvel’s recent Daredevil will be disappointed by Vincent D’Onofrio’s bland performance as Corrupt Exec #6, but otherwise everyone acquits themselves well enough. The highlight for many will be Chris Pratt as Grady, military man turned raptor wrangler with a healthy dose of roguish charm, and Jurassic World should surely cement his leading man status. Bryce Dallas Howard does well with a potentially tricky role (basic tightly wound but fundamentally decent exec #7) which is perhaps not as sexist as some commentators have declared her. Finally, Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins are surprisingly engaging as the kids in danger, although the obviousness of their plot strand works against them.

All in all then, a solidly crafted, fun filled adventure that doesn’t quite live up to the classic first instalment, but is streets ahead of the rest of the pack.

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