Review – Jurassic World

The very fact Colin Trevorrow’s mammoth monster movie has replaced the noun ‘park’ with ‘world’ in the title should give a pretty clear indication of the gargantuan aspirations of this latest entry in the dino franchise.

The film's box office stampede means a further installment is inevitable; one can only hope that engaging characters and a solid script aren't as extinct as in Jurassic World

The film’s box office stampede means a further installment is inevitable; one can only hope that engaging characters and a solid script aren’t as extinct as in Jurassic World

It hasn’t quite been 65 million years, but the wait for the fourth film built on the foundations of Michael Crichton’s novel has been long indeed, having been stuck in development hell like an insect trapped in amber for over a decade.

Now that it is finally here courtesy of Safety Not Guaranteed director Trevorrow, Jurassic World emerges as an occasionally thrilling, but ultimately flimsy exercise in 21st century blockbuster filmmaking.

The Mosasaurus jumps the shark in Jurassic World

The Mosasaurus jumps the shark in Jurassic World

With the odd exception, modern day tent pole releases trade-off on what went before whilst repackaging themselves in the hope that a big enough audience will simply shrug their shoulders and swallow what’s being served to them. Although Jurassic World isn’t as egregiously cynical as the likes of Transformers, it’s hard to ignore the suspicion the film is constantly apologising for bowing down at the altar of Steven Spielberg and stealing so shamelessly from the bearded one’s 1993 original.

Trevorrow and co may have felt that having frigid company mouthpiece Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) informing rugged-but-nice Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) that the genetically modified Indominus Rex has been cooked up in the lab because audiences expect the latest iteration to be bigger and better is self-referentially winking at the viewer, but it doesn’t excuse the fact Jurassic World is having its cake and eating it.

Isla Nublar's resident hunk Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Jurassic World

Isla Nublar’s resident hunk Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Jurassic World

There are other examples. The film makes a corporate sponsorship joke about naming its prize exhibit “Verizon Wireless Presents the Indominus Rex”, whilst having outrageous levels of product placement throughout. Furthermore, an incredulous Owen points out to Claire the foolishness running around a swampy rainforest in heels, but she somehow manages to anyway, even managing to outrun a T-Rex while holding a flare in a near carbon-copy rehash of Jurassic Park‘s most memorable scene (Trevorrow also employs Spielberg’s trademark camera zoom to someone’s face on numerous occasions).

Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has a flare for the dramatic in Jurassic World

Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has a flare for the dramatic in Jurassic World

Other aspects simply don’t make any sense. Why on earth, for instance, would the Indominus enclosure be guarded by a comically inept guard who’s more interested in throwing snacks down his gullet than checking on the whereabouts of probably the most dangerous animal on the planet? Also, if the Indominus somehow managed to jump over a 50ft fence, how the hell did no-one see it?

As for InGen security chief Vic Hoskins’ (Vincent D’Onofrio) hair-brained plan to turn Owen’s raptor pack into supersoldiers, the least said about that one the better.

Brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) look suitably scared in Jurassic World

Brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) look suitably scared in Jurassic World

Compounded, these moments become increasingly frustrating and overshadow the parts of Jurassic World that do work. The dive-bombing pterosaur attack on the thousands of visitors herded into the resort is the highlight of the film and features its nastiest scene involving a character being dunked in and out of the water by a hungry pterosaur, only to become lunch for the Mosasaurus, a giant aquatic lizard that normally provides SeaWorld-style shows for guests.

A furious stampede of guests aping a herd of dinos is also a nice touch, as is a moment early in the film when a dramatic footprint is revealed to be that of a small bird – one that links us to the introduction of hapless brothers Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins).

Clever girl: Indominus Rex gets to work in Jurassic World

Clever girl: Indominus Rex gets to work in Jurassic World

Meanwhile, the final dino-tastic standoff is admittedly well handled and features a particularly satisfying denouement, but too much of what has come before involving the Indominus is either nicked from Aliens (1986) or Spielberg’s original.

The film’s box office stampede means a further installment is inevitable; one can only hope that engaging characters and a solid script aren’t as extinct as in Jurassic World.

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21 comments

  1. Dan O. · June 18, 2015

    Silly, but fun and exciting. Just how I wanted it to be in the first place. Nice review.

  2. mlbradford · June 18, 2015

    A fine review, my friend!
    Supposedly, the mosasaur being fed th shark represents how th modern blockbuster has usurped th blockbuster template laid down by Jaws (1975).
    But bigger DOESN’T necessarily mean Better!
    U r welcome to check out th New Look:
    http://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/jurassic-lark/
    (I think u’ll find Brad does better upgrades than Trevorrow…)
    Cheers!

    • Three Rows Back · June 27, 2015

      Yes, there are more than enough nods to Spielberg aren’t there? Thanks for the kind words; will check out your review!

  3. le0pard13 · June 18, 2015

    As always, a solid review, Mark. This is now my second favorite in the series, which shows how less than great the previous sequels were. Interesting how mega-successful this has become. The allure of dinosaurs is still there. Doesn’t come close to the original, but it’s entertaining enough.

    • Three Rows Back · June 27, 2015

      You’re always too kind sir! Probably my second favourite too, although it’s a long way behind Jurassic Park.

  4. theipc · June 18, 2015

    I’m not in for this thing – great post, as always!

  5. ruth · June 18, 2015

    Hi Mark! We’re pretty much in agreement about this. It’s fun in parts but oh so inept!! There are so many illogical things happening and the human aspects are done in such a cheesy manner, i.e. the brotherhood storyline that it’s rather disappointing. Ahah yeah, how in the world that they think such a mammoth dino could escape the fence with zero casualties??! And of course they had to go INSIDE the cage with no securities behind them whatsoever, brilliant park keepers that they are 😀

    • Three Rows Back · June 27, 2015

      Hey Ruth! A late reply I know, but this is pretty much the first chance I’ve had to get on my site! The brotherhood storyline merely serves to spark the parental enlightenment of Howard’s character, just like Sam Neil’s character in the first movie. You could write an essay on all the dumb things in this movie!

  6. Tom · June 19, 2015

    Seems a lot of my admittedly obnoxiously-phrased issues with the film are being echoed by many. You’ve got a great point about that pteryosaur attack sequence — man the death of that fringe character was pretty brutal, wasn’t it?

    Loved the captions for this piece, too man. Great stuff

    • Three Rows Back · June 27, 2015

      Sorry for the late reply mate; I simply haven’t had time to get on my site for the past week or so. Yeah, we ain’t the only ones laying this are we? That hasn’t affected the box office though! Try to put a bit of effort into the captions; glad you liked them!

      • Tom · June 27, 2015

        No worries, I’m finding myself pretty distant from the blogging community lately. That can’t possibly have anything to do with holding down a full-time job 😉 haha

      • Three Rows Back · June 27, 2015

        Welcome to the suck!

  7. fernandorafael · June 20, 2015

    Agree with Michael up there. Definitely not as good as the first but I still had a blast.

    • Three Rows Back · June 27, 2015

      It was ok, nothing more in my opinion. Glad you ahd a blast with it though!

  8. Jordan Dodd · June 25, 2015

    hey mate, would love it if you took part in my PSH blogathon! The more the merrier 🙂

    http://wp.me/p4P9IW-Cp

    cheers!

    • Three Rows Back · June 27, 2015

      Hey Jordan; thanks for the offer. All I can say at thos time is that I’ll try. I’m struggling to get any time to see movies at the moment, let alone write about them so I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to get round to this. Will let you know though. Glad blogathon idea though!

      • Jordan Dodd · June 28, 2015

        That’s all good brother. Hopefully I can get at least ten people on board, that’d be nice!

  9. ckckred · July 7, 2015

    Nice review and I agree with you on pretty much every point. Everything here was already done in the original Jurassic Park and it was far better the first time.

  10. Pingback: In Retrospect – Jurassic Park (1993) | three rows back

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