Because your childhood nightmares had finally started fading, the new Jurassic Park movie is here. It’s been 14 long years since the third instalment and 22 since Spielberg managed to spark a very real albeit ludicrous fear in all of us, of dinosaurs coming back to life, in his original blockbuster hit. Since that initial success story, the franchise has produced two duds, and we’d all but lost hope in the imaginary dino-land that Spielburg so carefully constructed. The fourth and latest in the dinosaur series is called Jurassic World. The title is probably the least original part of the new movie. It's not like the second and third ones. It’s not even like the first one. The acting is better (‘scuse the treachery Sam Niell, you played a great Dr Alan Grant, but Chris Pratt), the effects are better, the story is better. The movie is just better.
I went into the film dubious. Firstly because I watched the franchise in preparation for the premiere and had forgotten how bad the second and third movies are and was holding a grudge. Secondly because, well, I’m not that into dinosaurs. My dinosaur knowledge extends just past Barney before reaching its limit at A Land Before Time. Turns out you don’t need to be into dinosaurs to get super involved in a dino-flick. And if you were already borderline palaeontologist, you'll be even more enraptured. Ross Gellar would die from fandom.
We enter 20 years after downfall of the original Park. The dinosaur Disneyland is rebuilt and thriving, although visitors are constantly demanding bigger dinosaurs and more teeth. Claire (Bryce Dallad Howard) plays the mastermind behind keeping cash rolling through the theme park gates. She is robotic and kind of annoying, and when her nephews, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), come to visit, she basically ignores them in favour of selling the newest innovation (see what I did there?) called the Indominus Rex.
Owen (Chris Pratt) is the film’s hero. He is an ex-Navy veteran who has managed to cultivate an awe-inspiring relationship with a quartet of velociraptors, and when the Indominus Rex breaks free, Owen is the only real asset to anyone on the island. Pratt leaves his Andy Dwyer antics at home and becomes a total maverick. He drives motorbikes and shoots guns and is basically everything you want from a good hero. So much so that I’ve officially changed my generic answer to the inevitable “Who would you want with you in a zombie apocalypse?” ice breaker from Jason Statham (because obviously) to Chris Pratt, in the hopes that he is as well equipped to deal with zombies as he is velociraptors.
Claire says “No one is impressed by a dinosaur anymore" a few times in the movie. She’s wrong. Spielberg’s dinosaurs are incredible. They are enormous and terrifying. They are so intricate and lifelike that you’ll find yourself squinting at the screen behind your dumb 3D glasses looking for flaws. There are none.
In fact, it is very likely you’ll like the dinosaurs more than most of the characters, despite the fact that they are often on killing sprees. Some of the characters are seriously a-holes, like Dr Henry Wu, play by B D Wong who played the same character in 1993. But especially Hoskins (Vince D’Onofrio), who has recently beat Professor Umbridge on my list of most hated characters ever. So kudos to D’Onofrio, I guess. To be honest there are a mere handful of character that are possible to like, and those are the leads, bar Claire because she is annoying and doesn't take off her heels once through the who dino-escape ordeal. The two boys are relatable, and epitomise brotherly love in a way that is simultaneously adorable and humorous. Claire and Owen share a bit of professional rivalry, witty banter and ultimate sexual tension to begin with, which makes for a satisfactory romantic element, despite their relationship taking a back seat to the dinosaurs when they start causing havoc, as it should. And to top off a stellar star cast, Nick from New Girl plays Lowery, features a shocker of a mo, and is an absolute delight throughout.
The set is awesome. Jurassic World is like Disneyland on steroids, in the future, with added prehistoricness. The technology featured in the film is epic, with theme park goers learning from holographic creatures and taking a self-guided safari in motorised orbs, all of which manages to look absolutely realistic. The special effects are impressive without being overly showy. You get a lost of extreme close-up action with the dinosaurs without feeling like you're being forced to appreciate the magic of the effects. And it isn't too gory. Sure, you see a few people get eaten, but Spielberg manages to keep blood and guts to a minimum, with the scare factor largely being thanks to a few unexpected pterodactyl appearances. I rate it R13-provided-said-13-year-old-has-a-reasonably-tough-stomach.
Does it have a theme? I think there is some sort of anti-genetic modification/don’t-mess-with-what-you-don’t-understand message but I couldn't hear it over all the dinosaurs. Let's go with "with great power comes great responsibility" because it worked really well for Batman and I’m pretty sure that was the general idea.
My final verdict is, definitely worth a watch. It is better than the second and third instalments in the franchise. But so is a slap in the face. It is also better than the first one, but mostly because the original is outdated. It is not the cinema-changing spectacle that was Jurassic Park, but no doubt it will hold its own in the box office, and garner a decent amount of well-deserved hype.