Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan
CLAIRE – “Think it’ll scare the kids?”
MASRANI – “The kids? This’ll give the parents nightmares.”
CLAIRE – “Is that… good?”
MASRANI – “It’s fantastic.”
“I can’t wait any more!”
This is what young Gray (Ty Simpkins, the young lad from Insidious) says near the start of Jurassic World as he whips open the curtains of his hotel room window and gets a glorious view of the park.
In a way, he’s speaking for every Jurassic Park fan crossing their fingers for 14 years for a new movie (and, some would argue, 22 years for a truly brilliant one). We couldn’t wait any more either. And now the wait is over.
Jurassic World takes place two decades after Jurassic Park and deals with the dream scenario most fans have thought about over the years: what would happen if lessons were learned from the first film and someone went on to actually open the park to the public.
As we join proceedings, the Jurassic World park has been open and running for nearly a decade. Set on Isla Nublar – the same site as the failed Jurassic Park – it’s drawing daily crowds of 20,000+ people and is considered a success.
Despite this, site owner Simon Masrani (Bollywood star Irrfan Khan) and operations manager Claire Dealing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are not satisfied.
They know that all theme parks – even those with real life dinosaurs in them – start to dwindle in popularity if new attractions aren’t regularly introduced.
But what do you do when all the big dinosaur species are already present in the park? Simple: you genetically modify your own new badass breed.
Meanwhile, Claire’s young nephews – Zach and the aforementioned Gray – have arrived at the park to see the sights and sounds, even though their aunt is a little too busy to see them.
At the same time Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a raptor expert, is called over by Claire to study the new super-species’ enclosure to make sure it’s safe enough.
No prizes for guessing what happens next: or, more specifically, in which direction shit proceeds to go.
In many ways Jurassic World is a re-tread of the original film: once again a big scary dinosaur leaves its enclosure and once again there are kids loose in the park trying to get back to safety.
But at the same time, it also tweaks that familiar dynamic to ensure there’s a new sense of danger.
This time (for the most part) the kids are on their own and aren’t accompanied by a dinosaur expert.
On top of that, there’s also the small matter of 20,000 members of the public at the other end of the park blissfully unaware there’s a big bastard of a dino making its way towards them.
Indeed, fans of all three previous Jurassic Park films may start considering Jurassic World a sort of ‘best of’ compilation comprised of reworked moments, dinosaurs and character tropes from the trilogy.
[MILD SPOILERS TO FOLLOW – SKIP TO THE NEXT RED TEXT TO AVOID THEM]
Not only do you have the ‘siblings in danger’ set-up as seen in the first film, you’ve also got a group of dinosaur hunters trying to track down the big dino as in The Lost World, as well as the pterodactyl attacks and raptor communication moments from Jurassic Park III.
Of course, these could be considered more coincidence than direct lifts, especially considering the second and third films might as well not have existed: their events are never mentioned in Jurassic World.
It’s unsurprising that it’s the first movie that gets the most love, then. While you’ll still get a kick out of Jurassic World if you aren’t too familiar with the 1993 original, Jurassic Park nuts will love the constant references dotted throughout.
These range from the very subtle nods – the restaurant in the park is called Winstons, a reference to the late Stan Winston who created the amazing animatronic dinosaurs in the first film – to an entire segment midway through that made my jaw drop (and we’ll say no more about it than that).
[MILD SPOILERS END – AS YOU WERE]
Performances are by and large fine throughout. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are both endearing, and have a fun chemistry. Both get equal opportunities to play the badass and look the idiot at various points, and watching them play off each other is entertaining.
Less memorable is Vincent D’Onofrio as a nasty InGen chap wanting to use the dinosaurs for nefarious needs: indeed, the entire InGen sub-plot is something of a pace-killer and gets in the way at times. I’d like to see a 90-minute cut of the film that hacks away most of this InGen stuff, because ultimately it doesn’t offer much to the main story other than chucking a villain in there for the sake of it.
Meanwhile, the two young chaps playing Zach and Gray are passable and adorable respectively, the older sibling being hard to warm to (though part of this is down to the character) and the younger one making you want to go “awwww” and pinch his cheeks all the time.
In fact, for what’s essentially a fairly simple role – young kid scared by dinosaurs – Ty Simpkins puts in a surprisingly touching performance, literally reduced to tears at times when discussing an otherwise throwaway backstory involving his parents. Keep an eye on this young dude, he’s going places.
Of course, all this would be for naught if there weren’t some top notch dino shenanigans and Jurassic World doesn’t disappoint.
Much like the first film it builds slowly, introducing the park and its various sections before all hell eventually breaks loose, but when it does it rarely lets up (except for the aforementioned InGen bits).
There are some rather silly ‘twists’ that can be seen a mile off. For example, it’s explained at the start of the film that the genetically modified dino is a hybrid of a T-Rex and a ‘classified’ creature, but almost immediately – when it’s revealed that it has heightened intelligence – anyone who’s seen the first film will know what’s coming.
This isn’t the only silliness you’ll encounter. Many people (mostly those who have only seen the trailer) will also inevitably point to Chris Pratt’s role as a sort of raptor whisperer, who trains raptors to fight for him.
An infamous scene in the trailer in which he rides a motorbike alongside them has understandably been met with much scorn. However, this sequence has a pay-off that makes such silliness worthwhile and shows that not all is what it seems.
Everything eventually builds up to an epic final 30 minutes that I’d argue is the most action-packed you’ll see in any of the four Jurassic Park films, culminating in a ridiculous final sequence that’ll have you grinning like a fucking maniac.
2015 is very different from 1993. Society is grumpier and more cynical. To quote Ben Affleck in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back: “The internet has given everybody […] a voice and for some reason, everybody decides to use that voice to bitch about movies.”
There will be some who moan that Jurassic World doesn’t have the same impact the original Jurassic Park did. Of course it doesn’t. Nothing will.
Jurassic Park was a once-in-a-lifetime film where all the stars aligned and we saw something we’d never seen before. The novelty of CGI being used effectively for the first time, the perfect cast, the breathtaking setting, it was as close to perfection as you’ll get.
If you’re judging Jurassic World based on that then you’re going to be disappointed, though frankly I’m not sure what you realistically expected.
I don’t really know what they could have done to this to have made it any better. Jurassic Park was always going to be the best in the series no matter what: the best Jurassic World could have hoped for was second place, and it achieves this more than comfortably.
All I know is this: as the ridiculous final shot plays out and Michael Giacchino’s new musical score subtly gives way to something more familiar, I suddenly became 10 years old again. I was watching Jurassic Park in the cinema again. The nostalgia got a bit too much for me and, I have to admit, I started crying a wee bit.
Let people moan about the silly twists, ridiculous raptor sections and ‘bad science’. There will always be people who had unrealistic expectations for Jurassic World.
For some, this was only going to be considered a success if Jeff Goldblum and a reanimated Richard Attenborough appeared midway and said: “by the way, science shows that dinosaurs should actually have feathers”.
As far as I’m concerned, all I know is that Jurassic World was effective enough in acknowledging the past that it reduced this 32-year-old man to tears.
And that’s good enough for me.
Jurassic World’s rating earns it a place in the hallowed That Was A Bit Mental Hall Of Fame. Click here to see what else made the grade.
Want to read my reviews of the other three Jurassic Park films? Find all four reviews in my Jurassic Park series overview.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Jurassic World is out in cinemas right now, so get your arse over there and see it. I saw the IMAX 3D version, which I’d recommend if possible: it’s one of the few films I’ve seen that actually has some interesting shots that benefit from 3D and aren’t just something flying out of the screen.
SHOW ME THE TRAILER: