Jurassic World review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
There’s a moment in Jurassic World where Bryce Dallas Howard asks Irrfan Khan if the latest genetically modified dinosaur is scary enough for kids. Irrfan says it’s scary enough to frighten adults. When Bryce asks him if that’s good, he replies that it’s fantastic. There is indeed a certain thrill that comes from a dinosaur picture like Jurassic World that entertains with its action and adventure, yet still dabbles in a horror aspect. I saw this picture with two little girls that seemed to be having just as much fun as us cackling adults for a picture where prehistoric creatures have humans for lunch. I couldn’t help but see myself in those kids being amazed by the sight of grand and terrifying beasts on screen once more.
The new Jurassic Park film is the dark little fantasy we all dreamed about when first setting eyes on the 1993 original. A theme park with dinosaurs is now stocked to the brim with visitors, merchandise and rides - all of which is ready to be ripped to shreds by prehistoric creatures. We can sense the carnage coming that it makes all the expanded areas of the park carry a giddy sense of anticipation. We see a gyroscopic sphere-shaped vehicle and can’t wait for the teeth and claws to gnash on the glass. We see the lair of some giant new attraction and can’t wait to see it get loose. We get a big view of a massive aquatic dinosaur and can’t wait to see him do some more chomping. It may sound grim to be anxious for death and destruction at a family attraction, but, given that this is the fourth Jurassic Park movie, you should know what you’re getting yourself into.
Unlike the previous films, Jurassic World is much closer to a monster mash in its story and spectacle. Eccentric CEO Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) has giddily transformed the park into a science experiment of fusing dinosaurs into new breeds thanks to the willing Doctor Wu (played by B.D. Wong, reprising his role from the previous films). The park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard in a red bob) has a similar tunnel vision as a number cruncher more concerned with profits and the marketing of new companies tacked on to new dinosaurs. The only person in the park that seems concerned about the well being of the dinosaurs as actual creatures is Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt with both adventurous spirit and scientific knowledge. He’s become so infatuated with training a group of raptors that he’s on the cusp of having them roll over. So, of course, we have to have our military jerk (Vincent D'Onofrio) who desperately wants these creatures to be bred for war. And don’t forget the two kids put in peril (Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins) for that special dose of Spielberg allure to excitement.
Jurassic World harkens back to the original in more ways than one. Acting as a sequel to the previous films, World is built around the ruins of the old Jurassic Park. This leaves plenty of Easter eggs scattered throughout the park that make everybody who saw the original film revert back to the eccentric vibe of 1993. The old Jeeps are present, the DNA cartoon character is back and there’s a gold statue of Doctor Hammond (the doctor from the first film played by the late Richard Attenborough). Aside from the physical nods, there are plenty of directorial nods to the predecessor which works out to be both a blessing and a curse. Expecting that moment where a giant dinosaur gets up close and personal with its prey that you can see the reflection in the eye? You’ll get more than you bargained for. Want some raptor on human violence with vicious teeth and claws? This film does not disappoint. Or maybe it does if you were expecting something more than that.
Director Colin Trevorrow plays around with the material with more popcorn fun than creativity and ingenuity. There’s not much to talk about with the human characters outside of Pratt’s general cool presence and Howard’s high-energy frantic nature. Everyone just sort of fulfills their required role for a film where prehistoric animals run amok in the park. There’s far more going on with the creatures than the characters. It shares much more in common with the Godzilla films where you’re more concerned about the old dinosaur beating the hybrid dinosaur than the two kids coming to terms with their parents’ divorce. Somewhere around the third act, the humans become non-existent players as the raptors and T-Rex can take it from here.
Jurassic World celebrates all the fun and flaws of the Jurassic Park franchise as a pleasing summer blockbuster fit for chomping popcorn. Having experienced the original, this film took me back to that era where Monday recess was a buzz of battling dinosaurs on the big screen. The kid in me is beaming with big eyes for how a T-Rex and a raptor take on a monster-saurus. But the adult in me wants to look down on its simplistic human characters and reliance on the old tropes. Well, the kid inside me seems to be having more fun, so I’ll go with his analysis of this being an awesome picture where good dinos join forces to fight the evil dino.