Jurassic World (2015)
Dir: Colin Trevorrow
Resurrecting a beloved franchise after so many years absence is a challenge, the first question being should it be done with a sequel, prequel, or remake? I think at least in that decision, bringing back Jurassic Park from extinction was done in exactly the right way.
Decades after the original park was a huge disaster, the concept has been given another go and is the success John Hammond always hoped it would be. When park manager Claire’s (Bryce Dallas Howard) nephews come to visit Jurassic World, the newest attraction causes problems that history warned they should have always been ready for.
Audiences at the park aren’t astounded by dinosaurs anymore, and it’s the same for viewers, thanks to the developments in CGI we’re used to photorealistic depictions of things that don’t exist in the real world. The film also looks like it might make the same mistake as the park by thinking that bigger is better, the other themes and issues raised however add just enough to avoid completely getting ruined by that pitfall, giving just enough depth to a film that rests much on action.
I re-watched the original ‘Jurassic Park’ the night before going to see this the first time, and I was very aware of the references thrown into the film and there are many. B D Wong (also seen last year in TV hit ‘Mr. Robot’) is the one character who reprises his role from the first film, this time getting far more than just a few lines. It’s possible to take the view that his character is in fact far more pivotal and sinister than first appears, as he is really the one person to witness the tragedies of the original park and yet has returned to this venture and in fact is instrumental in making matters far worse.
I love Chris Pratt as a leading man but in my opinion his brilliant personality doesn’t come across quite enough in this film. He’s still a great casting choice, just I think his natural comedic talents are underused in favour of making him a badass action hero. It is possible to write characters that are both tough and witty, the most enduring action heroes often are, also Pratt has proven himself more than capable of that blend before. The movie does have some laugh-out-loud comedic moments but they mostly go to Jake Johnson’s role as a park technician, he’s great at that kind of stuff so most of his scenes really work, it is a shame he and Pratt don’t share any proper exchanges because I can imagine if written well that could be excellent.
Still the film is very entertaining. It’s true that the wonder of seeing dinosaurs on screen is somewhat diminished from 20 years ago, so rather than the film hanging its hat merely on the spectacle of that it pushes for more impact in terms of the fast-paced story and large-level action, and on those counts I think it achieves exactly what it set out to do. There are some very clever ideas such as turning the Raptors from the villains of the first films into unlikely heroes. The abilities of modern CGI enable them to be given clear personalities that come across, I felt that really worked as they are surprisingly expressive while maintaining their realistic appearance, though I still wouldn’t trust them.
Changing the title from ‘Jurassic Park 4’ is for the same reasons that the park in the film is now ‘Jurassic World’ too, allowing a little distance and distinction from the ‘Park’ that was such a tragic failure. Though the first film was amazing and the second also was pretty good (by my memory), the third is hardly remembered with much fondness or love at all, so the filmmakers also know that by distinguishing this as a different entity gives them a little more freedom to pick elements from those as required, reusing some strengths and nostalgic aspects while not beholden to past sources of criticism. Clearly they picked the right things as audiences absolutely loved the film and many must’ve gone back for repeat viewings to make the box office takings the largest of the franchise, the biggest of 2015 (until ‘Star Wars’) and straight into the top 4 of all time. Director Colin Trevorrow has in fact been poached to make a move from this franchise to that box-office conquering one, a rapid but well-deserved (especially from a financial perspective) rise from his earlier films such as the fantastic ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’.
Overall I’m very thankful this wasn’t a remake and I look forward to seeing where they take things in the next film, currently slated for summer 2018. Essentially it feels like they have left it in a similar situation to the end of ‘Jurassic Park’ (I’m trying to avoid spoiling the end here so being slightly vague), so the next film is set up to have a distinctly different plot and, if done right, that could be an excellent opportunity to take things in a new and potentially even more exciting direction.
‘Jurassic World’ is available to own on all the usual formats from all the usual vendors.