Film review: Jurassic World

Not quite a T-Rex, but a lead-in deputydocus


When Michael Crichton’s sci-fi novel about a theme park re-introducing dinosaurs into the modern world was released in 1990, it was met with near universal praise and, along with The Andromeda Strain, it became one of his signature titles. Audiences had to wait only three years before seeing the novel realised by blockbuster king Steven Spielberg, which received worldwide acclaim and became one of the biggest ticket shifters ever.

Formidable footsteps
It pioneered CGI technology that would later revolutionise filmmaking – for better or worse. Those were big boots – boots that even Spielberg himself failed to fill with The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1998), an inferior sequel that nevertheless spawned one more outing, Jurassic Park III (2001), which all but nailed the coffin shut.

So when it was announced that Colin Trevorrow, a relatively inexperienced director with only one previous feature credit under his belt, would take the reins for Jurassic World, eyebrows were inevitably raised.

A familiar family affair
Set 20 years after the original film, Jurassic World follows two young brothers (Simpkins and Robinson) who have been entrusted into the care of their Aunt Claire (Howard), the director of the rebranded theme park (renamed Jurassic World), for the vacation of a lifetime.

Claire is too occupied with the park’s latest asset – a genetically enhanced hybrid dinosaur, bigger and more ferocious than a T-Rex – to concern herself with playing nanny and so assigns her incompetent British assistant to babysit the boys. Unsurprisingly, things go south, and soon the boys are missing and the deadly hybrid is loose in the park. Only Owen (Pratt), the park’s rugged velociraptor keeper-cum-trainer and Claire’s one-time date, seems equipped to tackle the situation.

Prince and pirate’s pizzazz
Owen’s archetypal relationship with Claire provides the centrepiece of the film, resembling closely that of Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee and the American reporter (Linda Kozlowski) or Han Solo and Princess Leia.

In fact, Pratt, who played the lovable rogue ‘Star Lord’ in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and is rumoured to have been touted by Spielberg himself as a worthy successor to Harrison Ford in any future outings for Indiana Jones, appears to be making a credible bid for all of Ford’s franchises – when that elderly actor’s star eventually burns out.

Pratt and Howard’s ‘princess and pirate’ repartee is the highlight of the film, with many other dialogue-driven scenes falling flat. The opening scenes of family life as Claire’s two nephews prepare to depart on their doomed vacation are poorly shot and nigh-on unbearable in cloying sentimentality. Fortunate then, that Trevorrow doesn’t hold back where it counts. The action set-pieces, featuring all manner of dinosaur across land, air and water, deliver all the thrills you’d hope for from the franchise.

Tomorrow’s man Trevorrow
On first reading the script, Trevorrow admitted to not having understood it – so Spielberg, to his credit (serving as one of several executive producers), then challenged Trevorrow to write a better script. What we have, then, is essentially Trevorrow’s singular reinvention of Crichton and Spielberg’s wheel.

It may be a bumpy ride, but the wheel does turn – and while it suffers from a sense of deja vu, lacking the fresh innovation of Spielberg’s original, it makes an admirable bid for bigger, if not quite achieving better.