“You just went and made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea.”
Kudos to Chris Pratt’s character for saying that, for he could very well be talking about Jurassic World itself. Reviving a successful franchise with a new premise and new hybrid dinosaur might not have been such a good idea.
There exists a line that separates the timelessness of Jurassic Park movies from your typical mega monster flick. And Jurassic World crossed that line to the lesser half.
MINI-SPOILER MARK: Minor plot details discussed beyond this point. No major spoilers revealed.
InGen has moved on from the unfortunate events of Jurassic Park (1993), and now runs a fully open and operational dinosaur theme park under the brand “Jurassic World”. But “Jurassic World” faces the same challenges as any regular amusement park, and must keep unveiling new attractions to continue attracting the public and remain profitable.
While brothers Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) visit the theme park as a distraction from their parents’ secretly ongoing divorce, their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the park’s operations manager and reveals to investors that InGen has genetically engineered a hybrid dinosaur as its latest attraction. The Indominus rex is bigger, stronger and scarier, but it is also unexpectedly intelligent and breaks loose from containment. As the hybrid wrecks havoc on the park and its dinosaurs, Claire consults the help of Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to put an end to the chaos.
It is a blessing and a curse that Jurassic World manages to get one thing right; the dinosaurs. And it ends there. Everything else disappointingly lacks the memorability of the franchise.
Jurassic Park movies have never tried to sell their plot, so the equally lacking storyline is forgiveable in Jurassic World. What occasionally drags the good franchise name into the mud is this movie’s messy dialogue and awful human characters, who are scene fillers at best, and, at worst, outright stupid.
Pratt is easily likeable, as always. Opposite him – and largely the centre of the movie – is Bryce Dallas Howard, a veteran of Terminator: Salvation and a proven talent in The Help. Yet neither of these actors could save their characters. Indeed, Owen succeeds in being the cool dinosaur-whisperer, and we buy Claire as the career lady who is great with investors and bad with children. But put together, Owen and Claire are almost as animalistic as the dinosaurs, outright flirting with each other from the get-go and at the most inappropriate moments during the rest of the movie. Their completely unnecessary rom-com-style advancements do nothing but make unappreciated attempts at cheesy humour. Worse still, said flirtations awkwardly disrupt any tense moments, being one of several things that gives the movie its uneven tone.
As if that was not enough, rom-com sub-plot B is briefly (but just as painfully) found between control room operators Lowery (Jake Johnson), a Jurassic Park purist who occasionally fiddles with his dinosaur toys, and Vivian (Lauren Lapkus), who cries 99% of the time. And then there is Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), the park’s security head who wants to weaponise any carnivorous dinosaur he can get his hands on, especially the now-dog-like Velociraptors. Perhaps it is the writers’ intention to make Hoskins as unlikeable as possible, and they have definitely succeeded. But his monologues are far too frequent, too long and too painful to bear.
By now, it should come as no surprise that brothers Gray and Mitchell are complete flops as well. Zach starts off unhappy with having to leave his girlfriend to go to a theme park, but then spends most of his trip blatantly ogling other girls. Gray is a chatty dinosaur expert whose knowledge is never put to insightful use in the plot. So, he is really just chatty. Further breaking up rhythm is the boys’ underdeveloped relationship, which the writers attempt (and fail) to build during and between dinosaur chases. Ultimately, the boys fail to truly win our hearts are no more than runners for action scenes.
As tasteless as everything else is, Jurassic World thankfully hits the bullseye with its dinosaur action. As previously discussed, the movie wastes time between action scenes, but it gets right to the drama at the beginning. We reach Jurassic World almost instantly, and the problematic hybrid is brought to light just as quickly. In the grand scheme of things, Jurassic World is up-tempo and a true action movie at heart.
The dinosaurs are undoubtedly the stars. The Indominus rex hybrid is thoroughly frightening, and the commendable special effects team humours us by giving plenty of full, well-lit shots of the dinosaur. The velociraptors are just as fascinating as they have always been, especially as the franchise’s resident cunning pack hunters. Of particular note is their K9-esque hunting and action sequences, which are thrilling, exciting and, for a dinosaur fan, simply cool.
Plenty of fanfare goes to the T-Rex, which the writers have accurately identified as the all-time favourite predator from the Jurassic Park trilogy. And they commendably put the T-Rex’s popularity to good emotional and practical use for this movie. In fact, through the portrayal of the T-Rex and other dinosaurs, the makers of Jurassic World proved to be fully aware of the sheer magic that was the first movie in 1993. And it is definitely not the entire Jurassic World movie, but rather its depiction of the Velociraptors and T-Rex that are the perfect homage to the original Steven Spielberg classic.
The dinosaur action scenes are as plentiful as they are thrilling, and the superb final showdown is arguably the best in the entire franchise. Jurassic World belongs to the dinosaurs, and as impossible as it would be, the movie would have been indisputably terrific if the dreadful human characters were absent and the dinosaurs were given all of the screen time to be the stars.
The bottom line is that Jurassic World is a passable monster movie. It is just not a Jurassic Park movie. It does not adequately earn that title besides its use of the same dinosaurs, logos and timeless John Williams score. Jurassic World‘s entertainment value relies heavily on the audience’s personal liking for monster flicks, regardless of whether it has the “Jurassic” brand or otherwise. And that is not the way it should be.
Rating: 1.5/5 (TALK-o-meter: “That was such an epic fail.”)