By Adam Clark @AdamClarkers
Jurassic World flips from nought to preposterous far too quickly and in doing so leaves behind any of the thoughtfulness of the original Jurassic Park. There might be an argument for allowing the film to stand on its own two feet except for the fact that the film itself is so desperate to crowbar in as many callbacks as possible.
Rather than reboot the series, it’s set up as a sequel in the near future. Jurassic Park has been reinvented as Jurassic World but punters have grown tired of plain old dinosaurs, driving the park’s administration to create a new, genetic hybrid. Unsurprisingly this turns out to be a bad idea and the new “asset” escapes and begins taking serious chunks out of the company stock price, by going on a murderous rampage.
On the human side of things, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), an ex-soldier and current raptor-domesticator is asked by operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to help rescue her two nephews who are stranded in the park, avoiding dinosaurs and working through their feelings about their parent’s impending divorce.
The characters quickly get lost in the unfolding chaos with none of the engaging relationships from the original film. Owen and Claire’s romantic tension never gets beyond school-bus teasing, Claire’s supposed action conversion is undercut by having her run in heels the whole film (which is called out in the film itself but then ignored) and the kids are standard-issue cute.
Chris Pratt’s inexperience as a leading man shows through his buffed-up physique and thin shirt. In Guardians of the Galaxy he was still basically a goofball on a galactic stage, whereas in Jurassic World he is called upon to be an action hero but doesn’t have enough screen presence amidst the chaos, opting to deliver lines for laughs which a more established action star might have been able to deadpan through. He fares a little better playing up the ‘nature expert’, but only due to the lack of anyone else being given any basic common sense in the script.
It doesn’t matter anyway because the film really wants to move on to scenes of dinosaur-induced carnage, with a mounting death toll that seems out of tune with the original family blockbuster. One particularly brutal death even comes off as oddly sexist considering the character’s brief dialogue which was presumably meant to set it up as satisfying.
The movie races through mismatched tones, swinging from comedy to action to mock-profound without a breath. A laughable subplot about an obnoxious security chief looking to sell dinosaurs as weapons leads to scenes of soldiers hunting the toothy monster in the jungle, ending up like a twisted parody of Vietnam war films. The pacing is all over the place and the occasional attempts to revisit the original film’s musings on man and nature are half-hearted.
There are some bright points. The idea of the domesticated raptors is a good twist both in terms of action and the theme of man’s relationship with nature. There is some genuine spectacle in the initial ride around the park, especially the aquatic beastie that snacks on sharks. The use of the original’s film’s music was an obvious but effective choice and Michael Giacciono plays around with it imaginatively.
Overall though it suffers badly via its own constant comparisons to the original. Jurassic Park was a tightly contained adventure story that managed to consider some big ideas. Jurassic World is a sprawling mess that never takes the time to establish its characters or any coherent ideas.
Jurassic World was released into cinemas on June 11th.