June 14, 2015

Jurassic World (2015)



"Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor's interest, which backfires horribly."

I remember way back in the far distant past of 1993 that I was sixth in a queue of eager moviegoers over a mile long which ran all the way down the street from the cinema, past a park, and over a bridge. The original "Jurassic Park" was so hyped that the world went a little bit crazy that opening weekend for dinosaurs, and I'm proud to admit that I was part of the insanity. I may have been too old for it, but I still bought the action figures, books, and anything else labelled with the "Jurassic Park" brand.

Twenty-two years later, nothing seems to have changed apart from the age of the original audience. With box office takings of over $551 million so far, "Jurassic World" has become an unprecedented success for a third sequel, but it's not only due to my generation's nostalgia.

Dinosaurs have and always will be one of the biggest draws for audiences of all ages. Everyone loves dinosaurs! Stick a dinosaur in a movie and it's almost guaranteed money in the bank. A couple of dud sequels in the "Jurassic Park" series have done nothing to diminish the yearning to see more of the same.

Velociraptors and motorcycles are cool.

Since I'm trying to be not my seemingly negative and jaded self, let me just interject the obvious fact that "Jurassic World" is a PG-13 Summer movie meant for little kids and family audiences. As such, it's no better or worse than any other movie released to get asses on seats for money this year, and it's full of all the spectacle that you would imagine.

Unfortunately, "Jurassic World" is overlong at 124 minutes, and it often suffers both from lag and unsympathetic characters. In fact, the action doesn't even get going until around an hour in, so if you haven't seen it yet, you can arrive late and not miss anything very important. Apart from a load of exposition and crowd scenes of visitors to the new Jurassic theme park, the CGI dinosaurs mostly mill around aimlessly and aren't nearly as impressive or groundbreaking as in the original.

Chris Pratt plays an ex-marine who has semi-trained a bunch of velociraptors in one of many "Chekhov's Gun" tropes which predictably play out later on in the story. As the most charismatic actor in "Jurassic World", he tends to steal the show, especially from the younger actors who are more or less forgetten during the second-half.

Bryce Dallas Howard provides some corporate eye-candy with a heart, but minor characters and the other co-stars tend to remain minor and one-dimensional with no surprises or chemistry whatsoever. Having none of the original "Jurassic Park" cast members even in cameos, "Jurassic World" appears to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater for the sake of making everything "new".

And now for some SPOILERS. Stop reading here if you don't want to know!

Imodium Rex will scare the shit out of you.

SPOILERS

The best part of "Jurassic World" is undoubtedly a death scene at the 80 minute mark which almost rivals the opening sequence of "Jaws" (1975) in terms of excitement. Yes, it's the one with the aquatic Mosasaurus which is heavily featured in the marketing. Being CGI and rated PG-13, all the deaths are quite bloodless, but this one is rather good despite those limitations.

All the predictable fights ensue, and the Pterodactyls or Pteranodons which are a big part of Michael Crichton's novel are nicely used. Fans of flying reptiles will be pleased.

Obviously, the biggest thing in "Jurassic World" is the much touted super-dinosaur which is called Imodium Rex or something similar made-up for the sake of it. There's no great educational exploration of dinosaurs or any apparent scientific accuracy here, but the story works as a fantasy-adventure for the intended audience.

END OF SPOILERS

Overall, there's nothing really to hate in "Jurassic World", but there's not a lot that most people haven't already seen before, either in the previous "Jurassic Park" movies or clones. A few "in-jokes" and homages don't detract from the considerable retreading of the same ground as "Jurassic Park", but they don't add anything new or memorable either.

If you just want to relax, switch off most of your analytical brain functions, and enjoy a kids' movie (or have a family to take with you), you won't go wrong by choosing "Jurassic World" over the other theatrical offerings this month.

Including nods to similar scenes at the end of "Jurassic Park", this love letter to the fans (both young and old) is a worthy finale, but it will cause déjà vu.