By the time Jurassic Park 3 came out, it was clear that the series was going down hill pretty quickly. Using the same chase scenes as the first two films and with dull narrative , Jurassic Park 3 failed to inspire much love in the audience. Even the visual effects had lost a certain wow factor, doing nothing new to wow the audience. There were rumors that a fourth installment was going to feature genetically-altered dinosaurs that were trained to use weapons. These soldier dinosaurs even made it into design stages, with Visual effect company Industrial Light and Magic creating concept design artwork, maquettes and 3D models. Thankfully, this rather silly idea of half man, half dino soldiers never made it out of the design stages. It seemed, that Jurrsaic Park was dead in the water. Fast forward 14 years and the big summer block buster is none other than Jurassic Park 4, classily re-branded as Jurassic World. So, can time heal all wounds? Are we still burnt out from the third film, or is there still more to say about genetically recreated dinosaurs? Like the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé in Jurassic World this review contains SPOILERS!
The film is set twenty-two years after the events at Jurassic Park. A new theme park, Jurassic World, now operates on the original island of Isla Nublar. In an attempt to create a bigger and better spectacle, the genetic scientist , led by original chief geneticist Dr. Henry Wu, have created a brand new dinosaur called Indominus rex. With the base genome of a Tyrannosaurus rex and the DNA of several predatory dinosaurs, the Indominus rex is bigger, smarter and meaner than any dinosaur that came before it. Of course, in classic Jurassic Park fashion, things go a little awry and the dinosaurs get loose.
In all the previous films, we have only ever seen, possible parks. They were always in development or abandoned. Jurassic World goes fall steam ahead and launches us into a park that is not just open, but has been operating for many years. This huge change makes for an exhilarating start, as we see rides and exhibits running just as they were planned, twenty-two years ago. It’s amazing to see people enjoying the sights and sounds of Jurassic Park, safe and sound behind working fences and electronic invisible fences that prevent the dinosaurs from roaming out of their designated areas. The park looks spectacular and we are treated to a T-Rex feeding and an amazing marine display of the Mosasaurus, the parks resident killer whale type dino. It’s awe inspiring and thoroughly entertaining. Especially for anyone that ever saw the other films and thought what if? Because what Jurassic World does, is Disney-fies the dreams of the original park!
One of my favourite things about the set up, is how they portray it. It’s not all smiles and balloons. One of the leads characters , teen Zach Mitchell, seems some what unimpressed by it all, and we even see a clearly bored and uninspired young lad operating one of the rides, greeting each of the guest in a droll manor. This feels like a real park, with real park issues, staff motivation being one of them. But things really crank up to 11, when the Indominus rex makes a bid for freedom. There are lots of action sequences that follows, each one getting more intense. These are genuinely well presented, well shot sequences that had me on the edge of my seat. Being a real park, there is a building suspense, as the danger gets closer and closer to the visitors , and as things start to fall apart, it actually manages to be quite terrifying.
The cast pretty good, with great performances from Bryce Dallas Howard and Ty Simpkins, yet the film falls a little flat with it’s casting of Chris Pratt as the parks Velociraptor expert. I can’t help but feel that they hired him just because he’s hot property right now, without actually screen testing him. You see, Chris Pratt stinks! He fails to inspire much confidence as an all out action hero, with no personality and with as much charm as a dose of the clap! His monotone performance and single expression started to annoy me after awhile. I can only imagine how perfect this film could have been, if they had hired someone more appropriate to the roll.
Casting is not the only issues, a few huge plot holes really stood out for me. Take the gyrosphere ride sequence. Brothers Zach and Gray take trip on the giant hamster ball like ride, safe behind the “Invisible Barriers” keeping the dinosaurs at bay, but allowing guests to roam close by. Though this concept falls apart, when you realise that the guests are actually driving the spheres. With out any road markings , the path of these barriers are unclear, and the fact that the two lads manage to sneak out of the area via a staff only gate, seems to make no sense. Pushing the plot along is fine, just as long as your abiding by the rules the film has already set up.
The films looks and sounds stunning. Fans will be happy to hear the original score laced throughout, even managing to be quite nostalgic in certain scenes. Composer Michael Giacchino has done a great job in getting a careful mix or new and old, placing little nuggets of John Williams original score just in the right spots. Visually, the film is quite spectacular. The dinosaurs look great, but it’s the careful framing and composition of some of the shots that just make the film quite awe inspiring. We have all seen the T -Rex on a rampage, but here it feels fresh and exhilarating, with wonderful sets and lighting adding tones and atmosphere to something already special. The big dino battle sequence, never feels confusing, like the quick blurry cuts of a transformers film. It’s beautifully clear and tons of fun to watch.
Jurassic World , like the park itself, is a real thrill ride. It has it’s ups and downs, but mostly the films thoroughly enjoyable. Sometimes funny, sometimes quite emotional, but always entertaining and never dull. Casting is mostly there, but with a really dull performance from its male lead. It’s certainly something you can enjoy as a fan and with fresh eyes.
One last little thing. The whole soldier dino story of the original script for Jurassic Park 4 seems to have made it’s way into the film. Though time and logic has crafted that idea into something more palatable , although I did not enjoy this side to the film, it worked well and added a little twist to the film, and gave us a villain loath.
Jurassic World is out on Blu-ray and DVD October 19, 2015.
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