jurassic_world_3Year: 2015
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writer(s): Colin Trevorrow, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
Rating: PG-13
35mm, 65mm, digital, Color, 124 mins

Synopsis: Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World. After 10 years of operation, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor’s interest, which backfires horribly. (Source)

The good news is, there’s a duality to Jurassic World that makes it a natural, logical progression of its predecessor; a dissection of how we’ve become so spoiled by technology that our relationship with nature and the world around us has reached a sort of breaking point. The bad news is, that such a premise is a also a metaphor for how these types of blockbuster sequels are inevitable, hollow spectacle designed to combat our insatiable thirst for “bigger and better”. What that means is, that director Colin Trevorrow’s film is inherently at odds with itself, resigned to be the thing it hates. But while it can be a little too cynical and self deprecating for my taste, it still works in spite of itself, namely by being an undeniable blast of fun that knows its limitations. Trevorrow knows not to repeat what came before, and though he may stumble on nostalgia every once in a while, keeps things from being a meaningless retread.

The story picks up a couple of decades after the first film. It sidesteps the original sequels and links back directly to the original to find Isla Nublar as a fully functioning theme park. It’s big, overcrowded and flourishing to an extent, but that also means it needs to keep introducing bigger and more dangerous spectacle to prevent audiences from becoming bored. The park’s operations manager, a shrewd but cold and calculated Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has allowed the park’s scientists to create a new hybrid dinosaur called the Indominus Rex. As a genetically designed creature, it’s scarier, deadlier and more dangerous than anything yet, but before it can be unveiled, breaks out of its isolated paddock and begins to wreak havoc on the park. Adding chaos into the mix, is that Claire’s nephews have come to visit for the week and are lost somewhere in the Indominus’ path. Recruiting the park’s Velociraptor trainer, Owen Grady, to help her find the two kids, the pair lead a rescue mission into the heart of the park, while simultaneously trying to figure out how to stop the Indominus before it’s too late for the park’s wildlife and its thousands of visitors.

Despite the unavoidable comparisons, the film is for the most part a different kind of beast. Less about wonder and awe and more about the dangers of apathy, it’s a full on action film with a fast pace and no shortage of massive set pieces. On that side of things, Trevorrow has a surprisingly good eye for everything, using the action to play up the dinosaurs’ relationship to their captors and a world that they shouldn’t exist in. Some of the film’s best moments come from Owen and his uneasy alliance with the raptors – the way they work together doesn’t feel as forced or hokey as it might sound. Though the film takes a different approach to the dinos as a species, it still holds a reverence for them that only feels more relevant in the time that’s passed since the film’s predecessor. Yes, the film is bigger and more chaotic than anything we’ve seen in the franchise so far, but the action is well done, and exhibits a surprising amount of empathy for the displaced creatures.

jurassic_world_2Although the film is built around a progressive build up of chaos, the characters aren’t completely lost thanks to a cast that renders their parts beyond what’s on the page. Bryce Dallas Howard is still a really underrated talent, and she gives her character more depth than what she’s allowed. Starting as an cold archetype who refers to the dinos as assets and can barely relate to her visiting nephews, she gives us a tragic character who has lost any semblance of warmth and transforms into a woman who realizes that she’s basically shut herself off to the world around her. Chris Pratt as the velociraptors’ alpha figure isn’t allowed to be funny this time out, but it suits him to play a more stern, serious character that has a real kinship and respect for the dinos. His charm is still wholly intact sans quippy one liners, and he proves that Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t a fluke (I knew it couldn’t be), solidifying himself as leading man material with a charisma that feels straight out of cinema’s golden age. As for the rest of the ensemble, Irrfan Khan is kinda fun as a steward of the late John Hammond’s dream (not the capitalist one) – it’s nice to see him as a big corporate type that cares about the creatures and not just bottom line. Vincent D’Onofrio gets an unfair turn thanks to a poorly sketched character who is unnecessarily labelled a bad guy just for the sake of it – his character does have the wrong head about things, but not enough to call him the villain. Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, as Claire’s nephews Gray and Zach are okay, but I could’ve done with less of them, and their characters are inconsistency written.

If you can get past the fact that noting can ever reach the majesty and craftsmanship of the Jurassic Park, then you’ll be able to appreciate what Jurassic World has to offer. Far better than previous sequels, it has more going on in its mind than just mind numbing disaster, and as a film aware of its own inevitability does a good job of being the best that it can be. It sounds like I’m settling, and maybe I am, but truth is, there’s much more to like here than not. As a film created to sell merchanidse, it’s still better than most bloated modern day blockbusters and has enough to celebrate the spirit of adventure that’s missing too often nowadays. This ones still a trip worth taking.

SG