Jurassic World; the fourth installment in a series of films which started so well but couldn’t seem to perch atop the high pedestal in which film one – Jurassic Park – set. That’s not to say that this new feature after a fourteen year break is bad. In fact, it’s far from bad. But, does it hold the same level of intrigue that the original did? I suppose that’s up to the individual spectator to decide. My guess would be that enthusiastic fans of Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg’s thrilling film will be somewhat disappointed by Colin Trevorrow’s foray into the fictional Isla Nublar resort park.
Made on a not-modest-at-all budget of $150 million Jurassic World has currently obtained a phenomenal box-office success of $1.515 billion (and still counting). Weeks into its cinematic release the film is being shown twice a day, every day, in cinemas with audience members still wanting to experience – or re-experience – the awe-inspiring story of a world where Dinosaurs roam around a tropical island and kill off a bunch of people. Four films later, it still holds interest, that much is known.
The question of, is ‘Jurassic World any better then the poorly received Jurassic Park 3?’ remains unanswered. And it will surely stay that way, for critics reviews have been generally kind, and the box-office smashing records speak for audience members but one thing is for certain; something is missing in the Speilberg-produced, Trevorrow-directed film. That something might simply be the fact that no sequel, no matter the budget or the cast, can ever overcome the genre-defining masterpiece that is the 1993 Jurassic Park. With its striking puppet-Dino’s and that kitchen scene, the original still stands today – some twenty-two years later – as a feature film that is as refreshing and good-looking as it was upon release.
Trevorrow brings us back to the original island, one which hasn’t been visited since film one. Now engulfed in futuristic theme-park rides and made-up Dinosaurs, the park is fully functioning and open to 20,000 guests. Arrival at the resort produces chills, for the films slogan read ‘the park is open’ and to see John Hammond‘s dream a reality is both scary and exciting for long-term fans of the franchise. We visit the new over-the-top park with its contemporary buildings and, get this – Dino petting zoo – but we also get a glimpse of the original visitors centre that is now dilapidated and overgrown, which looks dystopian and bad-ass all at the same time. The odes to filmic times of the past are appreciated and the nostalgia of the piece is what makes it such a strong feature.
The cast is led by Bryce Dallas Howard as Clare Dearing, the parks operations manager, and Chris Pratt as Owen Grady. Making a return is B. D. Wong as Henry Wu, the doctor who so confidently told Jeff Goldblum in film one that the Dino’s couldn’t naturally evolve. Oh, he was So wrong. Here, he’s been up to all sorts of mischief, taking control of these once-extinct animals just a teensy bit more then he should. Howard and Pratt are both strong in their roles, the latter exceptionally so. New Girl‘s Jake Johnson provides the majority of the films humour, and the actor is a genuine talent – especially when it comes to comedy.
The only bug-bare would be the inordinate amount of plot holes. Grady trains the Velociraptor’s to a level in which they don’t try to eat him (whoda’ thunk it?), yet he came from the Navy…so, where has this skill come from? Then there is the much-talked about point of Howard running around in heels the entire 124 minute run-time. Oh, and the biggest distraction of the feature? The constant product-placement that rules a big portion of the first half of the film. Coca Cola Life? Check. Starbucks? Check. Mercedes? Check. Ben & Jerry’s? Yes, check. It’s so obvious it’s almost funny, and it unfortunately causes a bit of an issue in regard to taking the film entirely seriously. Having said that, it isn’t all bad. There are one or two impressive visceral scenes, and the creation of a new Dino is a genius idea in terms of bringing something exciting to the audiences metaphorical table.
Younger audiences who are unfamiliar with Jurassic Park and didn’t experience it while it was still the 1990’s will love this shiny-looking epic. It’s got humour, it has attractive leads, and the action-packed Dino fights are all there. People who consider themselves to be part of the fan-canon of ‘World‘s predecessors may struggle with the repetitive nature the franchise has adopted, and the lack of charisma – as well as genuine scares – Trevorrow’s film holds. It’s a satisfying and reminiscent watch, but it certainly doesn’t hold up to the original.