Jurassic World (2015)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan
The concept of an amusement park filled with dinosaurs is an attractive one because, let's be honest, who wouldn’t kill to see living breathing dinosaurs? In the Jurassic Park franchise genetic manipulation and biological tinkering have made it possible for us to see ancient creatures that were once extinct, same as if you were visiting a zoo. Unfortunately, as the last three films have taught us, giant meat eating dinosaurs are not that easy to keep in captivity. This is the fourth film in the beloved Jurassic Park franchise, and it’s only now, after four films and three failed test runs, that the park finally opens its doors to the public. Only now it’s called Jurassic World. Why would anyone want to visit a park where many people have died at the hands of genetically mutated dinosaurs is beyond me, but I guess the idea behind Jurassic World is that people have gotten over the events that occurred in Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001). I guess the curiosity of seeing real live dinosaurs is just too much, people just don’t care, they’re going anyway. Chalk it up to confidence in human superiority. Our conquest over the natural world, we’re the kings of the planet and all that. I guess its similar to how people still go on roller coasters rides, even though people have died riding them. Just google the words “roller coaster tragedy” and you’ll see what I mean. The premise for Jurassic World is that the park has been up and running for some time now, and that seeing a T-Rex or a Velociraptor is now commonplace. What can park owners do to keep the masses entertained? And how long before the shit hits the fan?
Jurassic Park are a series of films with strong foundations on Michael Crichton’s book about genetic manipulation being conducted in secret islands, unbeknownst to the rest of the world. I remember reading Jurassic Park eons ago, it had an essay that talked all about how these genetic experiments are actually conducted with sheep, we just don’t know it. This gave the whole novel and subsequent film a scary legitimacy; a plausibility that might not have been there otherwise. Suddenly the story had foundations in the real world. Mix that idea with an amusement park gone berserk and you have a winner. Genetic engineering has always been a scary sort of concept; it makes humans seem like gods, playing with life, this is the reason why it’s always been a controversial matter in the real world. To this day, Crichton continues exploring this theme in his post Jurassic Park work, like for example, his 2006 novel entitled ‘Next’, a novel in which he continues to explore genetic research and corporate greed. Jurassic World explores these ideas via these scientists that splice DNA from different dinosaurs to create entirely new species of dinosaurs. This is how we come about the main baddie in this film, the new dino created solely for Jurassic World, the ‘Indominous Rex’, a mix between a Velociraptor and a bunch of other dinosaurs.
The concept of an amusement park in chaos is nothing new to Crichton, who explored this premise in the film Westworld (1973), a film Crichton himself directed about an amusement park that reproduced the old west, down to having cowboys walking down the streets, cantinas you could visit and horses you could ride. Tourists could come in and live in the old west for a couple of days. Things get crazy when robot cowboys malfunction and start shooting the tourists. As you can see, Crichton has been toying around with these ideas since the 70’s. In fact, Hollywood has used this concept before in films like Jaws 3-D (1983), were a vengeful shark runs amok inside of a Sea World, eating the people on the water rides. So to the seasoned movie buff, this concept is nothing new. What does Jurassic World have to offer that we haven’t seen before? A whole lot as it turns out because we’d never seen this concept played out with dinosaurs! These films strive on that one moment when it’s all about the chaos and the thousands of park goers running for their lives! There’s an awesome moment where Pterodactyls break loose and start snatching up tourists! Chaos indeed!
Of course comparisons to Jurassic Park (1993) are inevitable, so let’s get them out of the way. True there are nods to the original film, which fans will immediately spot. We revisit places from the first film, we see certain recognizable props and vehicles from Spielberg’s original. Some scenes in Jurassic World pay homage to Spielberg’s film, but that’s just director Colin Trevorrow respectfully acknowledging Spielberg’s genius. Thankfully the films offers us original elements as well, it’s not all one big homage like some reviewers are making it out to seem. In terms of the way it was made, well, Spielberg’s Jurassic Park is special in the sense that it mixed practical, physical effects with digital ones. Back in ’93, when Jurassic Park was made, it was the first film that showed the world how far digital effects could go when done right. I remember the first time I saw Jurassic Park in theaters! I was blown away, and yes, why not, I’ll admit it, when the T-Rex first roared, I got goose bumps. It looked so real. A lot of it had to do with the use of amazing puppets built for the film. If you go back and see Jurassic Park (1993) you’ll see, most of the time, the T-Rex is not computer animated, most of the time; it was all done through giant, life size puppets. Fast forward 22 years into the future and filmmaking has drastically changed, today computer animation has completely taken over movie making and so, we don’t see many puppets on this film. Most of the time, the dinosaurs are entirely computer generated. That’s just the way cinema is nowadays, so I guess we just have to accept it and enjoy those few moments when an adventurous filmmaker decides to make things the old fashioned way. Yet, when computer effects are done right they can blow us away and Jurassic World has good computer animation, so in that area, you won’t feel let down. We get top notch computer animation here. We also get to see dinosaurs we haven’t seen before, like the giant whale dino.
The film moves at a great pace, it slowly introduces us into the whole world. We get to see how the park works, who runs it. It takes its time to set things up properly, which is something I liked. You feel like you’re watching a real movie as opposed to a movie that’s in a hurry to get to the “good stuff” without setting up things properly first. In my opinion it’s a very well structured film. In fact, if you ask me, I say that that this film is better than The Lost World (1997) in the sense that The Lost World, though entertaining, felt like it was an unnecessary sequel which ran on one simple premise alone, putting the dinosaurs within the context of the city landscape. The third one was also pointless to me. In contrast Jurassic World feels like a natural continuation of the original story line which had everything to do with opening the park to the public, which finally happens here. I loved the way they portrayed the fully functional park, you’ll wish that it existed! Another plus is of course Chris Pratt as Owen, playing the role of what can only be described as a ‘Raptor Whisperer’. Chris Pratt looks like Indiana Jones on this one, it wouldn’t surprise me if he actually ends up wearing the Fedora hat at some point in his career, especially now that he is working with Spielberg. So that’s it ladies and gents. What we got here is a film that doesn’t surpass the original but is better than all previous sequels. All in all, a fun time at the movies.
Rating: 4 out of 5