Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor’s interest, which backfires horribly.
It’s been approximately 20 years since Steven Spielberg wowed audiences worldwide with ‘Jurassic Park’, which remains to this day one of the finest blockbuster releases we’ve ever seen. Two lacklustre sequels followed before the series was revived this year with ‘Jurassic World’, directed by relative rookie Colin Trevorrow, whose resume to date includes only the small independent sci-fi film ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’. Building a cast led by Chris Pratt proved an unintentional masterstroke, with the success of last year’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ raising the former ‘Parks and Recreation’ alum’s profile significantly, and a marketing campaign that evoked the memory of the original whilst promising something different helping to whet the appetites of the cinema going public. So does it deliver? In a nutshell, ‘Jurassic World’ doesn’t quite scale the heights of the original, but it’s a thrilling spectacle and a welcome return to Isla Nublar.
The film begins by introducing us to the token kids (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson), who have been sent on a vacation to the ‘Jurassic World’ theme park where their aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the park operations manager. The theme park is in the same location on the island of Isla Nublar off the coast of Costa Rica as the original film, and there are several nods to it throughout the course of the movie. Whilst the opening sequences do feel a little bit like a whistle stop tour to introduce us to most of the key characters, I couldn’t help but feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when new composer Michael Giacchino evokes John Williams iconic score. ‘Jurassic Park’ is a film that means a lot to many people and ‘Jurassic World’ pays tribute to that as it spins round the park, showcasing the various attractions. The table setting is necessary, but it does fail to introduce us to the characters beyond stock descriptions, with Jake Johnson (the geeky tech guy), Irrfan Kahn (Hammond clone) and Vincent D’Onofrio (bad guy elect) amongst others given little to work with to define their characters. However, that is not why we’re here and it’s not what the audience came for…
Where ‘Jurassic World’ really comes into its own as a spectacle is when things start to go wrong. Trevorrow does an excellent job of quietly building tension, with the character reactions to the trigger event feeling realistic and natural even as the audience can clearly sense they’re badly underestimating the gravity of the situation. The special effects throughout are terrific with some excellent use of CGI, and Trevorrow crafts numerous thrilling sequences as everyone starts to panic. As the leading man, Chris Pratt is terrific and his charisma helps to drive the film and helps to overcome some of the stilted dialogue and forced romantic pairings. It’s a shame that the carefully escalating tension of the film’s mid part gives way to full blown panic towards the end, with the film taking the approach of throwing everything at the screen and hoping it sticks. Character deaths feel rushed, countless dinosaurs are unveiled and the drama is lessened as a result.
Driven by Chris Pratt’s charismatic lead performance and state of the art special effects, ‘Jurassic World’ manages to successfully evoke the wonder of the original, whilst not forgetting to build and develop its own thrilling spectacle.
Directed By: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, Jake Johnson, Lauren Lapkus, Judy Greer and B. D. Wong