Back in Steven Spielberg’s genre defining, terrifying and all round exciting original, John Hammond was a man with a vision of bringing dinosaurs into a theme park. 22 years later, we have Jurassic World; Hammond’s dream come true (perhaps rather poignantly after the recent death of Richard Attenborough.) However, the dream of a worthy sequel to that original seems well and truly lost.
‘The park is open’ reads the hook of the film; Jurassic World is a fully functioning cross between Sea World and Universal Studios with dinosaur exhibits and rides galore. To boost interest in a world no longer so fascinated by dinosaurs, they need to (as the film puts it) ‘add more teeth.’ Enter the Idominus Rex, a genetically created killer so intelligent it has escaped it’s confinements and is running riot on the park. Let the adventure ensue.
The cast are fine; Chris Pratt is reliably Chris Pratt and his charisma raises the film just above a B listed movie. Dallas-Howard delivers a surprisingly empowering performance as the uptight Claire and the kids, for kid actors, are more than competent.
Since the film is so focused on science let me start with a scientific delusion; a myth says humans only use 10% of their brain, but science doubts this; here we have just one scientific anomaly that director Colin Treverrow makes no attempt to dispel as his numbingly simple plot hardly even requires 5% to function on the level it’s required to do so. Though simple the plot is surprisingly largely effective. Killosaurus Rex on the loose, which makes up about 80% of the movie, is exciting, exhilarating and largely fun to watch. It’s never revolutionary, inventive, shocking, but it’s thrilling like the original, I’ll give it that. The problem really comes from the film’s inability to do anything to stand out, which the original really excelled at. The science, for example, as reminded by my Zoologist girlfriend, is bogus. The script throws a bunch of DNA splices our way; from a frog, a bat, a sloth, to a centipede, a candle, a pillow… basically from whatever the hell it says and we’re expected to go on with it. This could be forgiven if it wasn’t for the fatal flaw of the film…
It’s not scary. The original was full of intense, edge of your seat terror; the raptors in the kitchen scene remains one of the few film scenes that genuinely stirs fear from within. This film is very much a clean, family friendly adventure film. There’s little terror, it’s just loud. There’s not even an attempt at a jump scare. The CGI is pretty bad, we’re not watching real things anymore, you can almost see the green screen taking up the majority of the theme park. It’s hard to be scared of something that you know isn’t really there.
The music is still fantastic, credit to Giacchino for bringing us back into the world and creating his own flair upon the magnificent original score, but it’s like polishing a turd. Kick Ass 2 had good music, but it wasn’t a good film.
There’s even problems with the characterisation; Vincent D’onofrio, who was brilliant in Marvel’s Daredevil, plays such a one dimensional, cliche villain who’s whole storyline seems to be inconveniently and uncomfortably tagged onto the main, like a velociraptor on the Killosaurus’ back. Of the two main children, the older goes from typical pubescent, miserable mopeyson, to Bear Grylls in one scene. Likewise, the younger of the two’s emotions change from shot to shot, one minute laughing in awe at the dinos, the next crying for seemingly little reason.
And the finale… what a load of shit. It was like watching a completely different film. I give this 6 because as said, it was very watchable and quite entertaining, but the last 20 minutes turned into a holy, mammoth smackdown. Think Godzilla vs Mothra with wholly humanised and ridiculously camp and melodramatically anthropomorphic dinosaurs. This was the moment Jurassic World stepped into the ridiculously over the top territory of 2 and 3, but luckily is pulled out by the quality cast and overall safe direction of the 2 hours that preceded this moment.
But perhaps I’m being too hard; Jurassic World is certainly the second best of the four films. It astutely points out itself that kids these days have spent their 20 years in a world that has always had dinosaurs, the wow factor is gone and now they’re nothing more than ‘elephants.’ I can’t help but feel this is the same for me as the audience; the original, with its awe inspiring effects, was terrifying. With the 2o years of my life being full of cinematic developments and realistic CGI monsters, perhaps dinosaurs, CGI and monsters aren’t enough to impress us anymore.
Entertaining but disappointingly flat, Jurassic World is better, but not great. The Park is Open, the franchise should close.