DIRECTOR: Colin Trevorrow
Will we be adding this to our collection? YES
With my hopes raised by the four star reviews across the board, I ventured into Jurassic World daring to expect the sequel to Jurassic Park (1993), which I have been waiting for since the summer of 1993. It was not always this way. Up until this week my, expectations were for another light sequel to reboot or refresh the all but dead franchise, which had been languishing in production hell since 2001, for a new generation, but I was never expecting it immerse me with the depth and well judge action which Spielberg’s original masterpiece had done all those years ago.
But it didn’t take more that two minutes for me to be disappointed by the tone of this film, as the opening credits appeared on the screen accompanied by Michael Giacchino haphazard score. We are given a scene in which two dinosaur eggs are hatching in a lab, which at first glance appear to be Velosoraptors, similar to what we witnessed in the first film, but it will become clear that they are the new, genetically improvised dinosaur, the Indominous Rex.
Then we meet two boys, a teenager who fancies himself to be a ladies man and his younger brother who throughout the next day will teach his older sibling the value of their relationship and that of life itself. Yeah, seriously!
But in all fairness, the plot zips along and it is not long before we are despatched to Jurassic World. If Jurassic Park was based on an African game reserve, then Jurassic World is Disney World, along with their equivalent of Main Street U.S.A.
It is here where we are treated to the most perverse use of product placement that I’ve seen in while. Granted, comments have been made its defence that this more of a satirical nod to the commercialisation of theme parks, I.E. Disney, but seriously! What a well judged way to make a TON of money in the process. Though I did like the IMAX reference, more poignant for those watching the film in IMAX 3D, I’m sure.
At least during all this vulgarity, there are many homages to Jurassic Park littered throughout, even a brief visit to the original section of the old park, including the rotunda and the parking garage from the original finale.
So, much has been said, critically about the chauvinistic nature of the female characters in this film, namely Claire (a miscast Bryce Dallas Howard). And yes, it is wholly justified. Considering that one of Jurassic Park’s underlining conceits was that all the dinosaurs were all female and that Laura Dern’s, Ellie Sattler even has a brief argument with John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough) about “Sexism in survival situations” in the first film, Spielberg had done plenty for women lib over his long career. But here, 22 year later, we are supposedly introduced a career woman who needs to spend time with her nephews to break down her cold exterior to find the woman beneath.
Well, it only seems to take our Indiana Jones wannabe, Owen (Chris Pratt), who is a two-dimensional representation of the hero, to crack her shell to bring out the swooning, maternal, damsel in distress. Just because she drives a truck for five minutes in the final battle and shoots a Pterodactyl does not make her a strong female character, it just means that she can drive long enough to find her hero, which she literally does!
The Indominous Rex is a new hybrid dinosaur, the species which make up its DNA, I will not divulge as it is part of the plot and offers the nearest thing the film has got to a successful twist, but even that is not earth shattering. Suffices to say that this creature escapes and runs a muck on the island, Isla Nublar. But I was hoping to dispose of this plot quickly, hoping that it would serve as a catalyst for a more interesting story, but instead the I–Rex just stomps around eating people and smashing through cages letting everything else out in the process.
The pursuit of this animal is the plot and that was disappointing to me. I suppose the subtext of this was that it was wrong to splice DNA together to make a new dinosaur but I thought this point had been hammered home in Jurassic Park (1993), that creating ANY dinosaur in this way was questionable. “Life finds a way” and all that.
“They have no idea what century they’re in and they will defend themselves, violently in necessary” to paraphrase Ellie Sattler (Jurassic Park)
“She has no idea where she is and she’s trying to work out her place in the food chain” Again paraphrasing a statement by Owen (Pratt) in reference to the Indominous Rex as she chomps her way through a special forces team.
But with John Hammond’s death, INGEN has been taken over by Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) , who is another noble business man who is more interested in dinosaurs and customers satisfaction than profits and statistics, which Claire is constantly reeling off to him, in order to remind us that her femininity is encased in a tough, cynical shell. Unfortunately, he meets his end rather unceremoniously after quite possibly being the best character in the whole movie!
Back to Owen, who is the Robert Muldoon of this film, though a pale shadow of the original Kenyon game keeper played by the late Bob Peck in the original film. Like I said before, he could quite literally jump on his classic bike and begin shooting the next Indiana Jones movie, as long as he brings some of his Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014) charm with him because other than being a “Badass” to quote one of the boys, who remarks to their Aunt Claire (Howard) that “Your boyfriend is a badass”, only for her go all googly eyes, yeah again, really, he plays this part very straight and stoic. He is too cool for school and he knows it.
He is training a pack of four Velosoraptors, as part of an insidious INGEN programme to test their intelligence to see if they can be trained as a new breed of solider. Interesting but unnecessary. The whole training of the Raptor’s thing is fine but Vincent D’Onofrio’s sort of villainous Hoskins, is under developed and I’m not sure whether Director, Trevorrow, who I do believe was the WRONG choice for a film of this scale, knows if he is supposed to be scary of just slightly menacing. But he is a safe, child friendly villain, with a nefarious, yet not evil, agenda.
The main issue with this film is not so much the pacing, but the lackadaisical nature of the script. The film in littered with nods to the original but they are often shoehorned in, with most of them available to view in the trailers and they have little impact on the plot, unlike the likes of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver’s other reboot, though I understand that their script was later re-written, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011).
To be honest I was both expecting and fearing that it was in this direction that Jurassic World was going to go. As hinted at in Jurassic Park, if you re-introduce an extinct eco-system into the modern world, it would have devastating consequences, with and kind of “evolution war” ensuing. This was of course just hinted at but the impending doom implied in this conversation was ominous.
Alas no. All but having what you might loosely refer to as a “twist” or two in the final minutes and the release of the T-Rex, having survived the first film, the conclusion is pretty much as expected and equally as abrupt. The ice-maiden has melted, the brothers are best mates and the park, well I don’t know!
All besides a reference to “the park going Chapter 11 by morning”, meaning that it was going to go bankrupt, it was unclear as to what had happened to Jurassic World as the sun rose the next day. Some of the animals had been released but clearly they could be recaptured again and obviously the death toll was high but is this the end of Jurassic World?
I was expecting an ending which would take the dinosaurs off the island, finally and perhaps begin some form of, you guessed it, “Jurassic World” finally firing the opening shot in a war of evolution between the pro-historic world and present day mankind. It was not what I wanted to see but it was implied, certainly with the original writing team, the film’s working title “Jurassic Park: Extinction” and even the final title (“Jurassic World”), with broader, wide reaching implications.
But no. This ended up just being a glossier, more hyped up version of Jurassic Park III (2001). A “dinosaurs chasing humans around the island and eating people along the way” type of thing. This was 3-D film with a 2-D plot, offering lip service to the depth of the original whilst trying to go bigger for a modern, more visually demanding audience.
Enter B. D. Wong, the only original cast member to return, Dr. Wu, the scientist behind the cloning process. Here, he is presented as a slightly mad scientist type and minor villain of sorts, who seems to get away with some of their perverse research in order to set up the sequel, I presume.
Whether a sequel is on the cards or not is still unconfirmed though I have heard that another two films have been green-lit and that the good news is that Colin Trevorrow will not be returning.
Treverrow and his writing partner, Derek Connelly are responsible for the final screenplay which has caused some controversy. The pair have been disputing the screen credit given to Jaffa and Silver, with the pair claiming that their final draft was solely their own work. Personally, I doubt that Jaffa and Silver, who have worked wonders with the Planet Of The Apes franchise in recent years, would have had too much to do with this finished screenplay so I think that it is probably in THEIR interests to have their own names removed in order to let Trevorrow have his glory. I doubt that this will win any best screenplay awards next season anyway.
So, in the end, love is in the air, feminism has been set back to Cretaceous period and the sequel has been set up along with the audition tape from Chris Pratt’s Indiana Jones. But I suspect that Pratt may go the same way as Avatar’s (2009) Sam Worthington, who after Avatar and Terminator: Salvation (2009), did a couple of mainstream movies and has since fallen off the radar.
But I don’t want to be too harsh here. The action is good and at times, thrilling and even though I have been critical of Pratt and Howard’s characters, they are fun if not dated. This is an enjoyable if somewhat lighter film than it thinks it is. I also believe that this is a film which will do a lot better with me on a second viewing. I have not seen this in 3-D yet either but that should not be a major factor. This had a lot to live up to but like Jaws (1975) and Robocop (1987) to name but two franchises where the sequels have never been able to live up to the originals which spawned them.
Great for the kids and even the family as a whole and if you don’t love Jurassic Park (1993) as much as I do, then this review might seem a little too critical but to me, there were too many missed opportunities it is a real shame.