REVIEW: Jurassic World
Universal Studios seem to have been onto a winner when they took on Jurassic World, fourth in the classic and iconic franchise that served as a hallmark for many 90’s kids’ childhoods, with it smashing box office records, being the first movie to garner $1 billion in the first 13 days of it’s release. With it taking favorite Fast and Furious 7,also a new edition to a highly regarded franchise, seventeen days to earn this amount, it meant Jurassic World well had truly knocked it off it’s pedestal.
Through the lengthy establishing shots introducing the new and updated theme park, it’s clear to see why the film has done so well,with no expenses spared on the majestic looking island of Isla Nublar, upon which the dreamy theme park sits, surrounded by glistening waves and carpeted in lush greenery. The film’s creators must have had a field day cooking up ideas for attractions at the park, with everything from a monorail allowing guests to soak up the sites and a dinosaur petting zoo for small children, to one of the most epic-a a giant marine reptile, the Mosasaurus feeding on a shark in front of an arena full of spectators, causing them to be soaked from the Mosasurus’ splash. This awesome scene was apparently director, Colin Trevorrow’s ideas, which executive producer, Steven Spielberg loved but wanted to make the cool edition of the whole bleacher section submerging underwater using a hydraulic system so that the audience will be able to see the Mosasaurus feeding underwater.
In short, the film’s visuals are a true stunning spectacle. It’s a stunning scene that is eagerly feasted upon by the wide eyes of young dinosaur enthusiast, Grey (Ty Simpkins), who, along with his sullen older brother, Zach (Nick Robinson) are visiting the park, with their mother’s (Judy Greer) hope that the boys will have an enjoyable family weekend with their workaholic aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is director of the park and hasn’t seen her nephews in seven years. The family reunion soon turns sour, however, when a genetically engineered and enhanced, spliced hybrid dinosaur bent on killing every creature-human and dinosaur-in her path, meant as a new attraction to combat the park’s declining visitor rates, escapes her enclosure, wreaking deadly havoc on Jurassic World.
The film’s premise is basically an overused case of humans meddling in things that aren’t meant to be meddled with; namely nature and genetics. But Jurassic World tells this familiar tale in spectacular style, with the dinosaurs themselves being created for the big screen in incredible detail and being vividly realistic (not that I’ve seen many dinosaurs up close). This was the first movie in the franchise not to feature animatronic dinosaurs created by Stan Winston, as he died in 2008. Instead the animatronics were created by effects studio Legacy Effects, a company formed from Winston’s former workshop staff. One of the shops in Jurassic World, Winstons, is named in Stan’s honour.
Although the film is a little predictable, with the two helpless kids being stuck on the island, echoing the first film in which John Hammond, who originally envisioned the concept of Jurassic Park, grandchildren constantly being in danger, the bond that develops between brothers Zach and Grey is endearing. All four heroes, Owen, Claire and her nephews, getting off the island alive is also an expected plot but the film has definitely been given a breath of fresh air making it stand out from it’s predecessor in the franchise, with cool attractions like the gyrosphere, a ride similar to a hamster ball, in which riders can get up close and personal with the dinosaurs and navigate their way around the valley, which is just cool to watch.
It was nice to see little nuggets of nostalgia embedded throughout the film. Things like Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), the geneticist who created the dinosaurs in the first film, appearing again in this film in the same capacity showed continuity. Neat nods to the previous films were also regular mentions of John Hammond, with there even being a statue of him in the park. It’s implied Hammond passed away before the events of Jurassic World, writing Sir Richard Attenborough’s, who played the character in the first films, passing into the franchise, the statue serving to honor him.
My personal favouite little gems of homage made to the earlier films are the fact that raptors play a big role in the new movie, as they traditionally have done in other films in the franchise, with Owen being a raptor trainer and the formidable “Indominus Rex” being half raptor as well as half T-Rex. The T-Rex that’s unleashed to help stop the “Indominus” is, according to the filmmakers, the same T-Rex that appeared in the original Jurassic Park, bearing visible scars from the final fight with the Velociraptors in the first film, which is a nice touch.
As well as intense suspense and thrilling action, the film is sprinkled with funny moments, with the banter between Bryce Dallas Howard and rising star Chris Pratt’s character’s controlling Claire and laid-back and practical hero, Owen being amusing, with both actors having effortless on-screen chemistry. Claire and Zach constantly reassuring young Grey that they are ‘totally safe’ before an imminent dino attack also brings a smile, while park employees Vivian (Lauren Lapkus) and Lowery (Jake Johnson), who work in the control room, share a brilliantly awkward not-so-classic-cliche movie moment kiss rejection when Vivian stops Lowery in his tracks as he goes to lock lips with his colleague when the island seems doomed…only for her to hilariously say she has a boyfriend, leaving Lowery looking amusingly sheepish.
With the right balance of comedy, action, peril and impressive visuals, the film being cleverly well thought out to fit with the rest of the franchise, Jurassic World is a must see this summer!