Jurassic WorldReviewed By Daniel Kelly
Posted 06/24/15 07:41:44
(Worth A Look)
Homer: Well, he’s got all the money in the world, but there’s one thing he can’t buy. Marge: What’s that? Beat Homer: A dinosaur.uch was the thinking in 1992, when in its third season; The Simpsons aired the seminal episode Dog of Death. Dinosaurs were impressive; the pinnacle of the natural world and history’s combined spectacle, a money can’t buy thrill resigned to books, bones and stop-motion recreation. Then, a year later, came Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg’s rousing adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel remains one of the dream-maker's finest , but at the time it was noted primarily as a groundbreaking technical achievement, presumed to be the closest we’d come to ever seeing living, breathing prehistoric specimens. Audiences packed theatres, box-office records were shattered and as one of the cinema’s most iconic floating banners correctly noted, dinosaurs again ruled the earth.
Flash forward to a scene from the film’s third sequel Jurassic World. Two brothers, one a precocious dino nut, the other a surly teen, are granted a chance to see Tyrannosaurus Rex feed. In Jurassic Park, the Rex’s bow was governed by suspense and raw anticipation, an opportunity to see a photo-real super predator reward enough, never mind that she might massacre braying, unaware livestock in the process. Of course, the monster failed to roll up for lunch then, leaving it with a nice hole to fill come dinner or decimation of the park’s infrastructure, our appetites impossibly whetted as a consequence. In Jurassic World, the T-rex does appear, eliminating a goat amid a cavalcade of earth shattering roars. But we only glimpse the splattery fiesta. Instead director Colin Trevorrow's camera sticks with the moody adolescent, who receives a concerned call from Mom, turning away from the reptilian centre-piece to engage in bored conversation. You see, in 2015, dinosaurs, much like CGI creations, aren’t cool or remarkable. An unscheduled parental check-up is infinitely scarier.
It’s this notion that fuels Jurassic World, which unfurls in a fully operational embodiment of John Hammond’s dream , a functioning zoological wonderland. With T-Rex and company beginning to underwhelm, the corporate minds (depicted mainly by Bryce Dallas Howard’s uptight Claire) have decided to bring genetic engineering into the mix. Enter Indominus Rex, a lethal cocktail of Tyrannosaurus and a bunch of other Mesozoic meanies. The I-Rex is bigger, smarter and nastier than anything bred before it, so naturally escapes and initiates a rampage that none of the island’s contingency mechanisms are fit to halt. It’s a race against time to prevent the prehistoric equivalent of Einstein, Dwayne Johnson and Genghis Khan from reaching the park, where thousands of vulnerable tourists lie in wait. At the forefront of team human are Claire and the Owen (Chris Pratt playing a cuddlier, more GQ friendly version of the original’s Robert Muldoon), who may or may not have been a thing once, but are no longer, due to the moderately sexist implication that’s she’s the stick-up her arse Sally to his free-spirited Fred. As the I-rex cuts a swathe through people, foliage and other dinosaurs, drastic measures have to be considered, including the implementation of a secret military operation involving Owen’s squad of unpredictable Raptors.
Dinosaurs may no longer amaze, but bonkers plotting always will.
Jurassic World is incredibly imperfect but seductively brash. Character arcs are soft, and occasionally preposterous. Various motivations are cloaked in a malaise of silly rationale (both the I-Rex’s existence and the initiative to use dinosaurs in war make no sense when approached with any degree of real-world logic). But the film does have ambition, and within the fabric of its own twisted, overblown schemata the sequel even posits some intelligent commentary. Culturally, Jurassic World is all about bigger not always being better, a cutting comment on corporate mentality, that like The Lego Movie, both has and ingests its cake. In harmony with the scaly antagonist, Jurassic World plays as both damning critique and crass celebration of cinema by committee, a billion dollar triumph of sensory overload designed to stun and sell, yet seemingly aware of its own cold, calculated reason for being. To quote another Spielbergian favourite, it’s either “very smart or very dumb”.
World is built for fans, but trades on inside jokes instead of fender-bending nostalgia. Jurassic aficionados will spot nods to the original movies in every department, including but not limited to Michael Giacchino’s sprightly score, subsidiary props and in one particularly satisfying and late-coming case a substantive cameo from the star attraction of 1993. It also makes the dinosaurs feel big again, something that its predecessors (1997’s underrated The Lost World and 2001’s perfunctory Jurassic Park 3) struggled with. Trevorrow gets under his monsters, remembering to embrace their scale, confident enough in his FX team to prefer wide-shots over close-ups. The dinosaurs themselves, now almost totally digital, are impressively designed, but feel regrettably thinner than their 90s – animatronic - counterparts. Still, the action is confidently handled and executed with the sort of visceral impact which used to be reserved for proper PG-13 efforts. People bleed and scream when they’re attacked by marauding nasties, and the stomps bring with them a sense of genuine threat. There’s little to rival the 1993 picture’s legend (the roadside slaughter and raptors in the kitchen are insurmountable highlights), but a pair of grisly military skirmishes and the bananas finale get closer than expected.
The humans are less convincing, but the quality of performance keeps them watchable. Pratt’s reigned in compared to last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Bryce Dallas Howard doesn’t always skirt the line between stereotype and sista cleanly, but they’re both likable in their inherent being. Vincent d’Onofrio probably fares best as a man of war seeking to train a raptor-driven anti-terror cell (a concept flirted with rather than fully explore here, presumably fodder for future installments), confidently hitting comedic and villainous beats with strong force of personality. But this is still a dino's world, even if they don’t awe like it’s 1993. Trevorrow and his team have spared no expense, and just cause we've seen it all before, doesn't mean we can't enjoy it again.(Note: At one point, the I-Rex is valued at $26 million, so even taking into account the inflation that’s occurred since 1992, Homer remains correct in his assumption that Kent Brockman can’t buy a dinosaur.)
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