Jurassic World

Posted: June 29, 2015 in Film reviews
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Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

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Its more than twenty years since the events of Jurassic Park, and despite the initial tragedy InGen was able to open a theme park, named Jurassic World, on Isla Nublar. Jurassic World has been a resounding success, but in order to keep interest and visitor numbers high the park relies on a continuing stream of new attractions. In order to create a new, even bigger draw InGen scientists use DNA from multiple sources to create a genetic hybrid that they call the Indominus rex, something larger and more vicious than even the T-rex.

Claire Dearing (Howard) is in charge of the park, her nephews Zach and Gray have come to visit, possibly whilst their parents split up, but Claire is too busy to spend much time with them because she’s arranging corporate sponsorship for the new dinosaur, so she sends them off to enjoy the park without her.

Meanwhile the owner of the park, Simon Masrani, is concerned about the security of the Indominus rex and asks Claire to get Owen Grady (Pratt) to take a look at the enclosure. Grady is working on a project to see if the Velociraptors can be trained. He and Claire have a prickly relationship having had a very disastrous date and his laid back style is at odds with her more uptight personality. Whilst they’re examining the Indominus rex’s enclosure however, the dinosaur escapes, and before long the island is in chaos. With her nephews in danger, can Claire and Grady save the boys, and stop the rampage of the super dinosaur?
I went into Jurassic World suspecting I’d probably seen the whole film already. It had been so heavily trailed, and the trailer had seemed to give a lot away. Thankfully I can report that the trailer didn’t give away nearly as much as it seemed, and as such much of Jurassic world came as a surprise, mostly, it has to be said, a pleasant one.

I found the first third the least interesting, in part because this seems to be where much of the trailer footage had been culled from, but also because we all know what’s going to happen, so a lot of the scene setting seems superfluous, especially given none of the characters are really fleshed out.

Once the Indominus rex gets loose and all hell starts breaking loose the film gets a lot better. On the whole the effects work is excellent, with only the usual problem CGI has of not always implying weight (which is where model work still has the edge). The action is well paced and what I found particularly pleasing was that I genuinely felt characters were in peril on many occasions, so I was on the edge of my seat.

The plot has much in common with the Indominus rex, because it too is a hybrid, its narrative DNA lifted from multiple sources. There’s a lot of Jurassic Park in there (obviously) but the film also riffs on Aliens, Predator, Raiders of the Lost Ark and a whole host of films in a similar vein. Thankfully though Jurassic World is no Frankenstein’s monster, its mismatched parts fastened together by very obvious stitching, instead the plot is seamless (even if it doesn’t always make sense).

What lets the film down is its characterisation. There’s been a lot of talk about Howard’s character and about sexism. I have to say that I think there is a valid argument there. It isn’t about the high heels (I’m sure there are plenty of woman who can move quicker in heels than without them) as about the general nature of her character. She’s a hard-bitten woman in a man’s world, tough and emotionless and the conversation between her and her sister where the sister starts saying that she’ll learn once she has kids is painful. Yes Claire does get to save the day on several occasions, but even then at times her agency is undermined. On one occasion she saves Grady’s life. In response he immediately reasserts his dominance and masculinity by grabbing her and kissing her. It feels very old fashioned, if not practically Jurassic 😉

On the other hand Claire’s wafer thin characterisation is in line with every other character as no one comes out of this well, and whilst her “journey” from frigid control freak to softer maternal wife/mother material isn’t exactly a positive, at least her character evolves (or maybe devolves) unlike Chris Pratt’s Grady, who starts the film as the wisecracking hero and ends the film as the wisecracking hero. There’s talk about him being the new Indy, and whilst in some respects I can see it, for me he doesn’t quite have that sardonic weariness that Harrison Ford was always so good at.

I appreciate that this is a summer blockbuster not an Oscar nominated drama, it’s just a shame more effort wasn’t put into the Claire/Grady relationship and that they didn’t meet halfway. Like I said though, most of the characters are caricatures: evil Asian scientist, nerdy tech guy, nerdy tech girl, sullen teenagers, nefarious military guy…though at least they’re consistent. The worst character is Irrfan Khan’s Simon Masrani, who one minute doesn’t give a damn about profits and is only concerned that the visitors are having a good time, and the next is putting the visitors in danger because he doesn’t want to risk the company’s bottom line by taking out the Indominus rex!

On the whole though this is a very enjoyable experience, it’s fun and exciting and, to my mind, it’s certainly the second best of the Jurassic Park films and, given I was never a huge fan of the original, it might even be my favourite. Time will tell.

There’s talk of a sequel and I look forward to it. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait 65 million years for it…

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Comments
  1. Mim says:

    THERE IS NO NEW INDY.

    And there are only three Indy films. There is no Crystal Skull…

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