When I was nine years old I went to see the ground breaking Jurassic Park at the cinema. My mum protectively shielded my eyes as two velociraptors hunted kids Tim and Lex in the kitchen. I was so annoyed that I made her take me again and told her to let me watch it! What followed was years of dinosaur related nightmares (which my mum still feels guilty about even though she really shouldn’t!) and a deep passion for the franchise and its velociraptors.
I was sceptical when I heard there would be a fourth film in the franchise. I wasn’t a huge fan of the second film but I enjoyed the third. Then I saw the trailer for Jurassic World and today, when Bristol was boiling in sunshine and muggy heat, I sat in a dark, air conditioned room (next to four teenage girls – never again!) and watched Chris Pratt doing what I wanted to do.
Warning: Major spoilers. If you want to see Jurassic World, read this after!
Twenty-two years after there was a power cut during a preview tour of Jurassic Park causing death and havoc, the theme park has been open as Jurassic World for 10 years. They have incredible attractions (although the velociraptors are hidden away) but, as happens, consumers are becoming bored with watching the cloned dinosaurs so InGen have decided to create a new attraction. The result is a hodge-podge of different DNA to create a hybrid dinosaur, named the Indominus Rex, which is more intelligent, bigger and more dangerous than they could ever have planned.
Naturally, she (they’re always she) breaks loose and it’s up to the people running the park to save the lives of the tourists. Namely this includes Owen (Chris Pratt) who is responsible for caring for a training the parks collection of four velociraptors, and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who runs the whole park, and the tourists include Claire’s two visiting nephews (because you have to have children involved in the horror).
It’s nice to be back on the original island, after the second and third films took us away from it. There are some lovely homages to the original film, including the remnants of the old Jurassic Park sites, the night vision goggles Tim wears, the trucks, an awesome Jurassic Park t-shirt ‘bought off Ebay’, chasing dinosaurs appearing in the wing mirror of the getaway vehicle, the two kids being attacked through glass, and the end inevitable fight scene with raptors and a T-Rex. Dr Henry Wu (BD Wong) even returns from the first film as the chief geneticist. There were probably more, which means this film definitely needs to be watched again (any excuse).
I’m biased. I love the Jurassic Park franchise, and while there were some things this film did beautifully, there were parts that disappointed. First of all, despite the middle of this film being amazing, the Indominus Rex just isn’t quite used as well as she could have been. Sure she’s scary and dangerous, but we discover she can change her skin colour at will for camouflage which she does a grand total of once despite hunting and killing everything in her path.
The ending is also incredibly cheesy and full of unnecessary sentiment, and I don’t just mean when Claire and Owen walk off together. I mean during the end fight as the T-Rex and Blue the raptor join forces to attack the Indominus Rex (who, by this point, I was feeling a bit sorry for. It’s not her fault, she was created that way). Once the adversary has been taken care off, both T-Rex and raptor disappear to enjoy their freedom and no one seems to think this is a problem, despite there still being over 20,000 tourists on the island. Remember, one T-Rex and raptors were enough for blood, death and pain in the first film.
And while we’re on silly plot points, I realised at the end that Claire has done all this running through jungles, driving away from velociraptors running at 50mph and running away from a T-Rex while wearing very high heels. Her feet must have been killing her by the end. In fact, she deserves a medal. It’s almost as impressive as the bloke in the Money Supermarket advert.
Despite those problems, the dinosaurs are beautiful. Visually, Jurassic World is a feast and it seriously makes you consider wanting to visit such a park. The fan favourites are lovingly done, with each of the four raptors (Echo, Delta, Charlie and Blue) looking individual and acting with the same precise intelligence that has been developed throughout the franchise. The T-Rex is equally spectacular, although the film could have done with more of him. As for the herbivores, well, they’re sweet and lovely and, if you’re like me, take a tissue because you will cry.
The Indominus Rex is also something to behold. I may have watched the Jurassic Park films too many times, but as soon as I saw her front claws I thought, ‘she has raptor in her’. So you can imagine my delight when she comes face to face with our four raptors and talks to them.
The acting is brilliant. Joss Whedon was criticised for complaining that Jurassic World is sexist and actually, I can see where he’s coming from even though he made those comments without seeing the film. Claire is responsible and overworked with a metaphorical stick up her bum, which is great but I wonder how different/better it may have been if Pratt and Howard’s roles were reversed. What if Claire was male and Owen female?
Because Owen was who I would be if I was in this film. Ex-military man with a heart of gold who has built a relationship with the four raptors, making him their alpha and leader. He uses this relationship to try and stop the Indominus Rex, but he also genuinely cares about those four animals. He talks to them, respects them and protects them, as he does with all of the other animals in the park. He’s a brilliant character, but why does the ex-military person who can use a gun always have to be a man? You know what, I’m fine with their gender roles, but what I didn’t like were the shared kisses. Your lives are in danger and, yes, you might die, so run and survive! Don’t stand and kiss!
The kids, Grey (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) are excellently played (as are all the other characters). They are the stereotypical kids in these dinosaur films but, and this might be my age talking, I really felt for little Grey. He’s a less knowledgeable version of the original Tim, perhaps because he is younger. Sadly there is no Dr Grant for him to bounce off, but there is a heart-warming relationship between him and his brother. I haven’t wanted to hug a child that much in ages.
The thing I really loved about this film, apart from the raptors, was the multi-layered plot. InGen want to make money, and not just through the new attraction. They’re also working on turning dinosaurs into weapons, starting with the raptors so of course there is a bad character who is trying to force the issue. Claire and her nephews all have family issues, ranging from divorce to simply not being a great aunt. Claire and Owen have all the underlying sexual tension (bit boring). Then there is the message about zoos and humankinds place in the food chain.
First of all, the zoos. In Jurassic World, baby dinosaurs are saddled to give rides to children in a form of petting zoo. Others are kept in high walled pens or sea bays (SeaWorld take note, please), fed slabs of dead meat or a tethered live goat (another homage to the first film – remember, T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed, she wants to hunt). While they are not animals taken from the wild for our pleasure (SeaWorld, take note again), they are living, breathing, feeling animals created for our pleasure (some could argue the same as all the zoo breeding programmes).
Power corrupts. Hammond was a good man, but money and an over ambitious dream caused death and horror (oh, exactly like SeaWorld. Hmm…). The man who has taken oven from Hammond, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), lets greed and wanting to be the cool billionaire, corrupt his common sense, allowing for the creation of the Indominus Rex. He never wanted them to create a monster, but what is a monster? My favourite line in the film is;
‘To a mouse, a cat is a monster. We’ve just always been the cat.’
Jurassic World has certainly earned its place in the Jurassic Park franchise. If you love dinosaurs, you have to see this on the big screen, otherwise it might be worth waiting to see on a television, when it’s cheaper, purely because of the weak ending. Saying that, I’m already hoping for a well done fifth film and will definitely be owning and watching this one again.