Film Review: Jurassic World


In association with the Grosvenor

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Rest assured that Jurassic World is worth every hype-building teaser trailer and inch of column space. Don’t, however, expect this film to imprint upon your nightmares the way the original 1992 Jurassic Park perhaps did. It’s a different approach; neither necessarily worse nor better, just different.

A twelve-year narrative skip to a functioning public theme park breathes new life into what could have been two hours of an aged Sam Neill lured on to his own personal purgatory for the fourth time in another improbable knife to the gut from fate. Or worse, a reboot starring Mark Wahlberg.

Thematically, the notion that we, the public, the consumers, have grown bored of “de-extinction” and now consider a living, breathing T-Rex as uninteresting an attraction as your average Edinburgh Zoo penguin is an acute and refreshingly un-Hollywood acknowledgement of our collective frivolity. Only Owen (Chris Pratt, aka the Harrison Ford of our generation) sees the danger and moral dubiousness of the park managers genetically designing new dinosaurs, scolding park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her coldness towards, in her words, “the assets” – i.e. the dinosaurs.

The film is well paced and the sequences of stunning visual horror following the breakout of the Indominus Rex (a huge Frankenstein-esque lab engineered dinosaur) are what you paid the ticket price for. Its rampage through the park is gripping, with a steady conveyor belt of dark discoveries for the characters and audience to squeal over, like that she can camouflage herself, and that she kills other dinosaurs for the LOLs.

However Dallas Howard is underused, despite having a measurably more interesting character than Pratt’s Owen. Her transformation from clipboard bureaucrat to caring human flies too low under the film’s radar given the centrality of her role. Her dull nephews, the mandatory Jurassic children, are little more than plot devices at best and at worst are subliminal tools to humanise Careerist Claire by foisting surrogate motherhood on to her wicked professional self. Sure, this script has been in development for a long time but that long?

The cut-and-paste nature of the collage script is visible throughout. Insufficiently crafted characters are littered around subplots, which are birthed and then mysteriously eroded. Nominally that of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Vic – the ‘human villain’ of Jurassic World who appears like Dick Dastardly to create, without any explanation, AN ARMY OF DINOSAURS to attack Afghans or whatever. Is Vic a war veteran? Does Vic have some dark past experience that causes him to mistrust the human military so dramatically? We are never told.

Despite these weird inconsistencies and lack of polish, Jurassic World is indeed a visual and narrative thrill. The first three quarters could just have been Chris Pratt staring blankly into the camera whilst flossing and it would still be worth the trip to the cinema for the film’s spectacular climax, which includes a fight more memorable than anything Michael Bay has ever given the world, and a conclusion that doesn’t just satisfy, it stuns. Bring on the sequel. Again.

[Rhys Harper]

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