To say I was excited for Jurassic World is an understatement. Twenty two years ago, I sat in awe with chicken pox in a drive in theatre in Busselton when my Granddad took me to see Jurassic Park. I think the film that it was paired with was Endless Summer 2 – a surfing documentary which was rated G and also happened to have boobs in it. What more could a nine year old want? At night full of dinosaurs and boobs?
The Lost World: Jurassic Park came along and I was beyond excited again, and wasn’t disappointed either. I refuse to say I’m an apologist for The Lost World. It’s a good film through and through, Steven Spielberg’s King Kong if you will. Then it was a long five year wait til Jurassic Park III came out and gave us a dinosaur who sounded like a Nokia phone. Well, that five year wait was nothing compared to the fourteen year wait that would happen between Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World.
Well, finally, it’s here. Colin Trevorrow takes the reigns this time and wrangles Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and two kids as this entries lead characters. Jurassic World presents us with a working dinosaur theme park which is on Isla Nublar – the island where the events of Jurassic Park took place. Things are trucking along well and attendance is high, but park owner billionaire Masrani (Irrfan Khan) wants a new attraction. And a new attraction is what Jurassic World gets – the Indominus Rex.
Things, naturally, go wrong from here and chaos ensues. The plot is essentially best encapsulated with the one word catchcry, run! And run they do. It’s hard not to compare Jurassic World to Jurassic Park as this new entry does its best to remind the viewer of events from the first film. Whether it be by subtle homages like the series regular ‘lucky backpack’ or the kids in peril, Jurassic World works hard to recall the joy that people had from Jurassic Park. And for the most part, it succeeds.
Many have talked about how Jurassic World is a commentary on blockbusters, and you can certainly see that here. Trevorrow’s voice comes through strong with this film which is wonderful to see as he manages to critique the studio system by showing them say, hey, we want more of what has happened before, but scarier, bigger, more ferocious. Masrani’s desire to have a new attraction that gets more people through the gates ‘no matter what’ is fantastically realised – and then when it goes horribly wrong his response is ‘this is not what I asked for’. The Indominus Rex is a collection of random ideas thrown together that ‘hopefully works’ – and it’s with this beast that is the best commentary on big budget blockbusters. It can be a chameleon when it wants to, but vaguely intelligent at times as well, it’s serviceable – just like a big blockbuster can be.
But we didn’t come to Jurassic World for a commentary on big blockbusters. We came to see dinosaurs fucking shit up. And that’s definitely what happens here in spades. There’s some ridiculously entertaining set pieces – such as the gyro ball pinball sequence or the pterodactyl aviary escape sequence. Unfortunately there’s nothing on the same level as the T-Rex sequence or the kitchen sequence from Jurassic Park, but it’d be pretty bloody hard to top those.
The raptors here are fully realised characters and have some truly wonderful moments. The final fight with the raptors and the Indominus Rex is just brilliant and is the reason to watch Jurassic World on the big screen. Heck, that final fight even has a cheeky Deep Blue Sea homage which I simply loved. Besides the Indominus Rex is a new dinosaur to the series, the Moasaurus – a crocodile like dinosaur. This mammoth beast has a couple of really enjoyable moments.
Characters wise, Pratt’s Owen Grady is serviceable, even though he’s not entirely memorable. The kids are just ok here and do good enough jobs of looking frightened when needed. Bryce Dallas Howard has a good lead role here, even if she’s not given enough moments to develop as a character other than wearing her shirt in a different way. There’s no Alan Grant’s or Ian Malcolm’s here, but this entry really isn’t about that. It’s about dinosaurs causing mayhem, and that’s it.
If there’s one major quibble with this film though is that the sense of awe and wonder is lacking at times. Part of that is because of Michael Giacchino’s score. Giacchino’s score are usually some of the finest out there, but here he just doesn’t do a good job of imitating the wonder that John Williams score had in the past entries in the series. This is a little strange given Giacchino’s Up score is a ‘homage’ to Sex & Lucia’s score, so he’s no stranger to taking someone else’s score and making it his own.
Overall, Jurassic World is a lot of fun and does what it says it will do on the cover. It’s a worthwhile entry into the Jurassic Park series and hopefully its immediate success means it won’t be another fourteen years until we see these dinosaurs stomping around either Isla Nublar, Isla Sorna or even back in San Diego again.