Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jurassic World

Year: 2015
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson, Nick Robinson, BD Wong

Plot: 22 years after John Hammond's failure to open his prehistoric park, Isla Nublar now has a fully functional dinosaur theme park. Its new owner plans to introduce a new hybrid dinosaur to help boost falling ticket sales, but it backfires when the dinosaur escapes and causes chaos in the park.

Review: Jurassic Park happens to be one of my favorite films of all time. Steven Spielberg has made all kinds of groundbreaking and Oscar winning films, but this is his best, in my opinion. It's a classic, done so perfectly that every sequel that came after it was inferior, even if they were entertaining on their own.

Colin Trevorrow is the man who was reportedly picked by Spielberg himself to do this sequel. Together with three other co-writers, Trevorrow presents Jurassic World as a successful park finally open, with new owners, fully functional rides and lots of dinosaurs to look at. It's kinda like Universal Studios with dinosaurs, really. But, as expected, things are about to go wrong as the park's marketing chief plans to unveil a new hybrid dinosaur to boost the visitor count. As the story goes, nobody expected the Indominus Rex, the new creature, to be an extraordinary thing, and it escapes. The body count starts rising and our only hope is the velociraptor trainer and his pack of raptors.

Yes, you heard me. Raptors can be made to heed a human's command. Apparently, this was hinted at in Michael Crichton's book, but still, to see it happen is much too strange for me. I mean, where's the fun in that? This is one of several problems I had with this film. Trevorrow is trying to marry old ideas with new ones, with varying degrees of success.

Some of his nods to the original, like the abandoned original park lobby and the old jeeps, holograms of the spitting dinosaur and a quick glimpse of a statue of Hammond, work well. Some of the new ideas, like the mosasaur (a huge water dinosaur that is the jurassic version of a water park's pet whale), having over 20000 people become potential victims of an open park etc are welcome. But at the end of the day, the film needs strong characters and a healthy dose of suspense and thrills. Trevorrow is already 22 years too late to give audiences something groundbreaking, which isn't his fault, but it certainly works against him here.

As stated, the characters are rather weak or uninteresting. Chris Pratt does a decent enough job as Owen, the raptor trainer, but is nothing compared to Sam Neill's Alan Grant. Grant was an adventurer of sorts, but never portrayed himself as such, which made him more appealing. Pratt plays Owen like a dashing cowboy type, which is most obvious when he tells two kids that he's an alpha to his raptors. Bryce Dallas Howard is Claire, the marketing chief who comes off as pretty unlikable for most of the film. She gets a couple of good scenes with the dinosaurs, but that's about it. Howard's good, but again, her character is poorly written. Irrfan Khan tries hard, but clearly isn't as memorable as Richard Attenborough's John Hammond. And finally, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson are the two nephews of Howard's character who get caught up in the whole mess during their visit. They're not interesting either, and come off as annoying half the time, especially Robinson, who doesn't even want to be at the park. I mean, why? It's a dinosaur park for God's sake! Vincent D'Onofrio manages to shine at least, as a security officer who has other plans for the dinosaurs.

As for the thrills, Trevorrow doesn't quite have Spielberg's eye for creating a scene and drawing out the moments. He attempts to recreate some iconic moments from the original in his own way, like the T-Rex chase and the T-Rex attacking the kids in the jeep, but it doesn't match up. I did like his pteranodon attack as well as the final dinosaur throwdown in the film's climax, but it's much too late by then. He did take too much time in setting up the story before finally getting the ball rolling with the Indominus Rex's escape.

I know I made plenty of comparisons to the original here, but bottom line is: I never wanted this sequel, because it was not necessary. To be fair, Jurassic World isn't a bad film. It's decent in fact. But why settle for decent when you can put the Jurassic Park DVD into your player and enjoy excellence instead? (6/10) 

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