Film review: Jurassic World

Jurassic World

Right then. After all the buildup, how was Jurassic World? I wasn’t sure what to expect, particularly after reading a few reviews – but what I got was a fun, worthwhile film overall.

Two decades after the failure of the original Jurassic Park, InGen has actually succeeded in setting up an operational dinosaur theme park – known as Jurassic World – on Isla Nublar. We open with teenagers Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) as they head for a vacation at Jurassic World, where their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) works as the operations manager. Despite the obvious popularity of the park, the owner Mr Masrani (Irrfan Khan) wants to ensure that visitors remain interested, and so has ordered the creation of a new hybrid dinosaur, a super-predator called the Indominus rex. This turns out about as well as you’d expect: the I-Rex turns out to be highly intelligent and equipped with a range of deadly abilities. It soon goes on the rampage, leaving Claire and dinosaur trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) trying to stop it, with Zach and Gray caught in the thick of things.

I was a bit unsure as the film started up, mainly because of the characters, who weren’t terribly likeable at first. Zach and Gray are the typical antagonistic teenage brothers, with Zach preferring to stare meaingfully at attractive girls than babysit his younger sibling, and showing little sympathy at Gray’s distress over their parents’ likely divorce. Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire is the equally typical serious businesswoman with no time for a personal life or even to meet with her nephews. Chris Pratt’s Owen is a bit more charismatic, but not enough to make up for the others at the beginning. Fortunately, this does improve as the situation escalates and the characters develop positively while trying to cope: Zach and Gray are able to gel, Claire gets her priorities straight, and Owen gets to show off his cooler skills.

As I’d hoped after watching the trailer, there is a bit more to the whole film than just stopping the I-Rex, though that is at the heart of things: the I-Rex is very much the central antagonist. There’s also the matter of rescuing Zach and Gray from the wilderness, and dealing with security people who are interested in the military applications of Owen’s trained raptors. All these things are brought together nice and neatly: in particular, we are able to see how the park works through Zach and Gray’s tourist experience, not by having it all dumped at the beginning as the trailer seems to indicate, but having these scenes interspersed with the other sub-plots even when things have already started going to hell. I liked how Jurassic World feels just like an actual big-budget American theme park: there’s sponsor logos everywhere, music playing inside all the buildings and transports, and even an information video with Jimmy Fallon on one of the rides. There’s a great sense of scale throughout, such as the mosasaur attraction with its seats that lower spectators to the underwater viewing area; it all feels like a very impressive setting onscreen. And there are some nice callbacks to the first movie, such as a brief appearance by Mr DNA, and a couple more significant ones I don’t want to spoil.

What about the action? If you’re interested in seeing dinosaurs smashing things, chasing people and fighting each other, then of course this is the film for you. The I-Rex may look slightly generic, but there’s still some excellent use of suspense when it’s stalking its victims. The CGI is no better or worse than most films these days. One thing has occurred to me since my last post on Jurassic Park, where I talked about how the original made me believe the dinosaurs were really there: perhaps that reflects what audiences wanted at the time. CGI was still fairly new then, and Steven Spielberg wanted audiences to think his dinosaurs were real. But these days, we’re so used to it that it just has to look good rather than be truly realistic – and if that’s true, it actually parallels with the thought processes within the film that lead to the creation of the I-Rex, to impress visitors who “look at a Stegosaurus like it’s an elephant” in Claire’s words.

In the months before the film came out, I heard some comments from speculating people who were worried that the Velociraptors would lose their intimidation factor if they had been trained – but that’s not the case. It’s made very clear that even in Owen’s hands, the raptors are on the very edge of control, creating appropriate tension when they’re around. As in previous films, it’s in the third act that the raptors are let out to do their thing, and it’s at this point that we get the best of the film’s action sequences. The climax builds to a huge fight scene that feels very indulgent but is also undeniably awesome: when it was over, I wanted to start applauding – but nobody else in the theatre did so I had to hold myself back for fear of looking like a fool.

Jurassic World is probably the best of the Jurassic Park sequels; it brings the central concept into modern times, and if you’re just looking for fun, excitement and dinosaurs, you’re in safe hands with this one. Rating: 4/5.

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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5 Responses to Film review: Jurassic World

  1. Elle says:

    I agree, the new Jurassic park was fun to watch but it lacked the tension of the first Jurassic park. I wasn’t glued to my seat and got up twice for the toilet. A really good film for me is when I don’t move and I’m gripping the seat in front!


  2. Gray: I did some snooping, and our parents are getting a divorce. Big brother, what are we going to do?!

    Zach: Well Gray, there’s a good chance we’ll both be murdered by dinosaurs on this trip and then we won’t have to see the divorce. Does that help?

    Gray (tearfully): No.

    But in all seriousness, my thoughts on this movie were pretty similar to yours. The characters were initially your typical aloof big brother, hubristic businesswoman and gritty outdoorsman archetypes, and the first half of the film was really not subtle about their respective flaws, but they grew on you in the second half. I think this film nailed the steady progression of insanity that I liked about the original film without feeling forced, and I’m pleased that the dinosaurs continue to be smarter than the humans in this franchise. Something about that just feels right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point about the dinosaurs being smarter than the humans! I guess that helps us root for the dinosaurs to some degree. Thanks for reading – are you looking forward to the sequel this year?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pretty much. It definitely sounds different from what we’ve seen so far in the Jurassic Park franchise, and after the last movie beat a slump of diminishing returns I have hope that it’ll be a good movie. Something that interests me is that the plot sounds almost too straightforward, so there has to be some other subplot going on that will inevitably lead to some third act reveal, and I’m curious about what that will be,

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I definitely hope there’s more to the film than what was apparent in the trailer.


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