Saturday, June 20, 2015

Jurassic World Review

'Don't worry. It's gonna be just like taking a walk in the woods...65 million years ago.' 

Twenty-two years have passed since the events of Jurassic Park, and Isla Nublar's famous theme park is finally open in this year's highly anticipated box-office-breaking summer blockbuster. But is it a sequel worthy of its franchise?

Having anticipated this film since 2013, it had a lot to live up to, especially with the legacy left behind by the original 1993 Jurassic Park film, to put it simply: it had big boots to fill. 

In an attempt to satisfy the public's need for 'the next big thing' and to boost declining visitor rates, operational manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) agrees to let The InGen Corporation bioengineer a new attraction for the park in the form of a hybrid. This monstrosity is created by splicing the genes of multiple dinosaurs, including the infamous T-rex and Velociraptor, as well as various other modern animals. Meet Indominus Rex.

As with any Jurassic Park film, the plot is simple popcorn fare: dangerous dinosaur is locked up, security is breached, dinosaur escapes and wreaks havoc on the island, engage panic mode. It still manages to be entertaining, but it's not without its flaws. It's harmless and fun without being offensive, and it doesn't insult its audience's intelligence, but it's so vanilla. With the budget and hype fuelling this monster of a film, it could have done so much more. There was a massive over-reliance on CGI, something that's obviously not a problem exclusive to this film, but when you think about the awards the original picked up for its, at the time, state of the art visual effects - that have aged so well! - it just feels overdone. When it comes to things like this, simpler is sometimes better.

So focused on one up-ing its predecessors and instilling a sense of nostalgia, the film fails to fully form the world it has created. We know nothing about how the park was allowed to open after all this time, nor what impact this had culturally. We can only assume it works like an average theme park, except it's not an average theme park, and we don't see enough of it. The Gyrospheres feel like a modern re-hash of the Jeeps in the first film, and the horrifying Indominus Rex mainly just looks like a T-Rex with more teeth and bigger arms, not as crazy and awful as it was built up to be, and not particularly inspired. In fact the Mosasaurus that lives in the park's underwater stadium made more of an impact in the short screentime it was given than Indominus did in the entire film.

On top of all of this, none of the characters are really that compelling. Bryce Dallas Howard plays your stereotypical straight-laced, tight collared strong woman in a position of power, brought down a peg by the events that unfold that soften her down, along with her undeniable chemistry with park worker and dinosaur trainer, Owen (Chris Pratt). The stereotype feels a little worn, but Dallas Howard plays her well enough that she's a least a fun character to watch, especially when everything begins to go wrong. Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins play a strangely unannoying pair of brothers. Cynical 21st century versions of Lex and Tim Murphy in the original, Simpkins' Gray is definitely the Tim of this film, his childlike fascination with the prehistoric lizards leading them into a spot of bother at times, along with his brother Zach's carelessness. However, the most interesting relationship in this whole film still manages to be that of Owen and his pack of Raptor friends. It was surely the strangest and most unexpected subplot to come of the film, but somehow it worked.

All of this culminates in a pretty impressive, adrenaline-fuelled dinosaur face-off at the end, as well as a final scene that's sure to please fans of the franchise. Despite everything, Jurassic World still manages to be an extremely fun watch, there's just not much you can say about it, its main draw as a must-watch this summer coming from a sense of collective nostalgia, and of course wanting to see dinosaurs being cool again on the big screen. In these aspects, it delivers. Otherwise, it's unfortunately just another fun and forgettable summer flick.