Jurassic Park is an actual classic film. It’s not a perfect film. It’s not even an exceptional film, but it is an important film in the progression of blockbuster cinema. It had wonder, action, adventure and and single handedly created a generation, or two, of kids obsessed with dinosaurs. I was already a dinosaur nerd when the original film came out so seeing Jurassic Park was like I was finally getting to see actual dinosaurs on screen. I could write huge posts about how well Spielberg conveyed the jaw dropping sight of seeing these dinos realised on screen like never before. Jurassic Park wasn’t just about gawping at the creatures though. It was an action film. And a damn good one too. Jurassic World is fully aware that seeing giant monsters isn’t a huge deal now, hell, the plot revolves around that fact, so it rightly focuses on action. Does Jurassic World lose anything because of this? Click below for my words about this.
Here’s the plot to Jurassic World. InGen are running a fully operational Jurassic Park, now called Jurassic World. They’re worried about guest numbers dropping so they genetically engineer a monster of a dinosaur. It breaks loose because of course it does. Some kids are out in the park and their aunt, who runs the park, gets Starlord to help her find the kids before they get eaten or something. It’s the first film ramped up to 11 basically. There’s actually a lot more to the plot. I’ll get to that later, what matters is that you get that this is, essentially, a big monster breakout movie with thousands of potential victims. The film is also a commentary on consumer culture and the nature of the film industry as a whole. Yeah… you heard me.
The creation of the Indominus Rex, a beast designed to be a bigger attraction than any actual dinosaur could be, is layered with commentary on the way business and, by extension, the movie industry is constantly trying to up the “wow” factor regardless of the impact it has. The Indominus is made up of DNA from various dinosaurs and animals to make it larger, faster and more intimidating than anything on the park. There’s a constant thread in the dialogue of the characters being aware that they may have gone too far but the iRex is constantly proving that they really have got no idea what they’ve actually made. It isn’t just a big dino. It can hide itself from thermal tracking, it can change it’s colour like a chameleon, it’s smart enough to set traps and to claw its own tracking device out. It also kills for sport.
How this comments on the Hollywood blockbuster is obvious. Jurassic Park wowed people. Effects like that had never been seen before. But now it’s all a bit passe. I still would say that, thanks to Spielberg’s top of his game directing, the first film still manages to hold some weight with its reveals. But in the grand scheme of things we really don’t care about effects now. This doesn’t stop the studio spending more and more to try to wow us with the next big thing. Think about how disaster movies can’t just destroy a building or a city anymore. You have to have the whole world ending. Hell, Knowing has aliens saving the last of the human race to start a new world. Even Lars Von Trier presented the end of the world as being just a element of a character driven film. Effects mean fuck all to us now. We talk more about when an effect stands out as being a bit ropey than we do how miraculously a sequence was done. The industry pushed 3D for years, now people give zero shits. They’re gonna keep pushing 4K in homes now despite movie theatres presenting 4K quality images since the early days of cinema. 8K will be next… cinemas have been doing that for years too. At the end of the day the bigger, badder and bolder approach to presenting films and products wears thin on us and what matters is whether the film is actually good or not. Luckily for director Colin Trevorrow’s focus on this theme he did also manage to make one damn good movie to back it all up.
Yes, Jurassic World is good. Very good in fact. Hell, it may even be great. After The lost World and Jurassic Park 3 that’s quite a surprising thing for me. The Lost World had 1 good scene. Julian Moore’s scene where the glass was slowly cracking beneath her as the truck she was in hung over a cliff. Jurassic Park 3 had a little more going for it but that was largely due to how self aware it was. Jurassic World is also fully aware of what it is but the fact that it’s actually filled with rounded out character relationships, tense sequences and some excellent plot pacing means that it is elevated beyond being entirely dumb. The film is also filled with callbacks and filmic quotes to the original film that are done the correct way. None of this “hey, remember that bit? We’re doing it again!” crap. It’s all subtle such as the first dino you see being a hologram of a Brachiosaurus, or drips on blood landing on a soldier’s arm going different directions each time. There’s a rather cheeky reference to Jurassic Park 3 too, which I won’t spoil.
Plot threads running through the film regarding family, divorce and the estrangement all help flesh out the characters in a suitable manner. The two child characters, Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins), have been sent to the park, run by their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas-Howard… who is not Jessica Chastain), by their parents as a way to soften the blow of the divorce they’re about to be put through. The kids realise the divorce is coming and the eldest, Zach, is being a bit of a distant jerk to his brother over this. Naturally he gradually figures out that he’s gonna need to be an actual big brother and that’s all it takes to make sure 2 children aren’t irritating in a film. Give them a relatable conflict, have them figure it out. All it took was being chased by dinosaurs. Other plot elements like Claire’s acceptance of how rotten an aunt she has been, the villain’s determination to turn dinos into weapons and so on al help make sure the film never stalls.
There’s a few story moments I do have problems with. So slight spoilers in this paragraph. Firstly, the film relies heavily on idiot plot. Like, the entire plot wouldn’t have happened if the characters had waited a second longer. There’s a British nanny character who’s been stuck with Zach and Gray whilst Claire does business stuff how meets a near comical and extremely brutal and draw out death that didn’t feel earned. It felt really mean spirited really. Considering the main villain, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, is mostly killed off screen, this draw out death feels a bit harsh. Also, the first time Zach and Gray see their aunt Claire after the outbreak she is saving Chris Pratt’s Own from a Pterodactyl and looking pretty badass in the process. By this point she’s ditched the business attire, is all dirtied up and is wielding a big old gun. They almost immediately decide that Owen is the badass before he does anything to earn it. It’s especially odd as when they see him being save he is being attack by the smallest dinosaur in the entire area. He earns badass status from them later, but that was still an odd moment.
Other than those few story moments that irked me I really don’t have much of an issue with Jurassic World. The film is fun, action packed and is paced expertly. It takes its time building up to the outbreak and then just keeps ramping up the tension until its final act where the film goes full on fist pumping action madness that made the kid in me grin like an idiot. The film pays reverence to the original whilst creating its own unique situations, such as the sequence involving the gyrosphere and some very strong iRex jaws. The Michael Giacchino score recalls the style of the John Williams classic even if it doesn’t really try to create it’s own theme. Chris Pratt is the same charismatic rogue we all love. The film is pretty much entirely a joy to watch. I’m genuinely surprised by this. The trailers did so little for me and past expectations being dashed told me to approach with caution. There really isn’t a need though. Jurassic World is a confident action blockbuster that deserves the millions it’s about to pull in.