Friday, June 12, 2015
'Jurassic World' (2015) directed by Colin Trevorrow
Friday, June 12, 2015 by londoncitynights
Much as I try not to be a sap for franchise nostalgia, Jurassic Park still tugs at my heartstrings. I vividly remember being an incredibly excited dinosaur obsessed ten year old in 1993, astonished and thrilled by what I saw on screen. Time has proved Jurassic Park to be a genuinely great film; a weird mixed-up science fiction monster movie that switches gears from adventure movie, to disaster movie, to slasher movie and finally back to adventure as the T-Rex boomingly roars and "When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth" fluttersdown around it. God-damn it's good.
Now, 22 years later, we're heading back. Jurassic World is essentially a direct sequel to the first film, paying little attention to the mediocre The Lost World and the godawful Jurassic Park III. The conceit is that while the original Jurassic Park may have ended in menaced children, severed arms and chewed up lawyers, the basic concept was sound. Now (with beefed up security) we have Jurassic World: John Hammond's dream fully realised.
Jurassic World is established, popular and successful; boasting thousands of visitors each day who're in thrall to a process now known as de-extinction. Cheering visitors sit in Seaworld-a-like auditoriums as a colossal mosasaur munches down great white sharks whole, children ride baby triceratops about in a petting zoo and visitors can roll between the legs of sauropods in transparent gyrospheres.
Though the visitors are happy, the shareholders aren't. Growth has begun to stagnate, so the board decides to cook up a new excitingly dangerous dinosaur. Working from a T-Rex base, the fiendish Dr Wu (BD Wong) stirs up a genetic soup and creates the I-Rex. Or, to give it its full name: the Verizon Wireless Indominus Rex. The park's manager, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) has mixed feelings about this; on one hand the corporate sponsors are ecstatic, on the other she's now responsible for a psychotic murder monster that really, really, really wants to escape and start eating people.
No prizes for guessing what happens next. Fortunately Claire has the services of animal trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) who's gained the trust of the velociraptor pack. As chaos snowballs it's down to Owen to corral the raptors and hunt down the escaped I-Rex, and maybe save Claire's nephews if he's got a minute
Jurassic World is roughly half dumb and half perceptive. According to the director, the genesis of the film is "What people were kind of over seeing dinosaurs? We imagined a teenager texting his girlfriend with his back to a T-Rex behind protective glass." It's a clever way of looking at the Jurassic Park metatext; while realistic computer generated dinosaurs were astonishing in 1993, after 22 years of ever more clanging CGI we take these things for granted.
This makes Jurassic World a battleground between old and new; the bombastic and cynical modern blockbuster versus the sincere, nostalgic classic. The forces of the new are represented in part by omnipresent (and for once thematically appropriate) product placement, security Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), who wants to militarise the dinosaurs to use as living drones and; most obviously, the I-Rex itself.
Whereas the 'classic' Jurassic Park dinosaurs have a weird dignity; the I-Rex is a complete asshole. It indiscriminately kills the other dinosaurs, behaves in a straightforwardly villainous way (they should have engineered a moustache for it to twirl) and, most egregiously, isn't even a real dinosaur. Within the text it's an abomination, bloodily tearing its way through our nostalgia, dragging the film away from Spielbergian wonder to everything-exploding Bay-hem maximalism.
And boy oh boy does Jurassic World ever get silly. There's a tonne of ultra-cheesy dialogue throughout, though it becomes weirdly palatable when delivered by one-man charisma machine Chris Pratt. The idea of repurposing killer dinosaurs for military use is Saturday morning cartoon stupid - the highlight being Vincent D'Onofrio staring admiringly at the velociraptors and saying "can you imagine if we'd have had these things in Tora Bora?" You know what Vince, I actually can't.
Everything climaxes in a pro-wrestling match where the goodie dinosaur dukes it out with the baddie dinosaur. I could forgive anyone who's thrown up their hands in disbelief by this point - the dinosaurs are now less animals ripped from time and more toothy, leathery superheroes. But well, despite all this dumbness, I kinda enjoyed it.
Jurassic World wears its heart on its sleeve - it's a B-movie where a massive genetic dinosaur monster eats lots of people. It achieves the goals of the B-movie with aplomb; providing laughs, scares, excitement and lots of action. There's also the commentary on franchise-rot bubbling away in the background, which makes it just aware enough that it squeaks into 'good film' territory.
This is obviously nowhere near as good as Jurassic Park, but it's certainly better than the previous sequels. It's forgettable and perversely moronic, but at least it's fun.
Jurassic World is on wide release now.Tags: Bryce Dallas Howard , Chris Pratt , cinema , Colin Trevorrow , dinosaurs , film , Jurassic Park , Jurassic World , paleontology