It’s been a staggering twenty-two years since Steven Spielberg brought us Jurassic Park. Imaginative, thrilling, and a milestone in cinematic visual effects; Spielberg’s original dino-adventure has stood the test of time and transcended generations. Two dodgy sequels later though and it looked like – much like John Hammond’s dream of a Jurassic theme park – that the franchise was dead and buried. Extinct.
Hollywood will always find a way though – especially when there’s big bucks to be made – to ressurect popular, money making franchises whether that be by sequel or re-boot. And so, we now have Jurassic World, which feels like both. The events of the first film are referenced and some familiar faces make a welcome appearance, yet despite being set back on Isla Nubar – the island from the first film – and following the same formulaic structure as Spielberg’s original; Jurassic World feels fresh, contempary and glossy.
This time around, the park is indeed open and Hammond’s original vision has become bigger and better than he could have possibly imagined. His mantra to spare no expense has survived him, and the fully operational theme park is unlike any other you’ve seen – it’s super high tech, has a herbivore petting zoo, and some of the biggest and deadliest attractions in the world.
A long time has passed since the events of the first film and people seem to have forgotten, or at least come to terms with the deaths of so many people. Despite being proven a bad idea on numerous occasions, people seem to now feel safe with the idea of watching a T-Rex feed with only brick and glass between them and it.
Numbers have begun to dwindle recently though, with the public seemingly bored of the ‘same old’ dinosaurs. To try and get more people back to the park, it needs something bigger, louder, and with more teeth. Enter the Indominous Rex, a new creature with some shady genetic engineering, that is as clever as it is deadly.
It isn’t long before this new ‘asset’ breaks out of containment and all hell breaks loose on the island. It’s up to former Navy man turned Raptor trainer, Owen, along with the park’s manager Claire, to save as many people as possible – including Claire’s visiting nephews – and bring down this new monster.
All the familiar elements from the original film are all present and accounted for in Jurassic World, and that’s why it works as well as it does. Being one of the people that the film had to work hard to please, with the image of Chris Pratt riding through the jungle with ‘nice’ Raptors making me cringe massively; it’s truly a comment of the film’s success when I say it is tremendously entertaining good fun.
If anything, my considerably low expectations made me enjoy the film even more, as I was pleasantly surprised to find that, whilst some of my initial fears were proven right, it could have been a whole lot worse. That may sound like I’m damning it with faint praise, but Jurassic World really did impress me more than I ever imagined it would.
It follows the rules set out within Spielberg’s original and that’s important. The fact that the dinosaurs fulfil each of their hero and villain roles respectively, made me sigh with relief, as did the fact that we didn’t see the rumoured Raptors with guns – although, that could be in the sequel.
The action is edge of your seat stuff; Chris Pratt proves once again that he’s one of, if not THE best leading men in Hollywood today; and there’s great fun to be had within the park, as we get to see the various attractions in all their glory.
More than anything though, Jurassic World’s success is derived from that overwhelming feeling of nostalgia that most will experience when watching it. Despite being too young to see Jurassic Park the first time it was released in the cinema, being sat in a dark room with that infamous theme music blaring through the speakers, and with a T-Rex kicking ass on the big screen, there’s something uncontrollably joyous about it all – a throwback to the childhood excitement that the films of Spielberg so often create.
It’s not all perfect and that’s a shame. There are still some moments that stink of stupidity and make me wary of the direction in which the franchise could head – but worse than anything, Jurassic World is sort of sexist.
It would seem that along with the nostalgia of Spielberg’s films, Jurassic World brings with it as 70’s style portrayal of women. Claire, the manager of the theme park, may be in a position of power, yet is emotionally impotent and unable to form proper relationships. To be fair, she does have her moments where she is given things to do, but through the film as a whole, does tend to hide between the manliness of Chris Pratt.
Not only does she wear high heels throughout – never a good choice of footwear for the jungle – but by the film’s climax, she’s wearing barely any clothes and her chest is greased up for equal measure. Whilst the sexual politics within the film disappointed me, I can’t say it’s enough to ruin the picture as a whole.
Jurassic World does have some issues, but thankfully it has turned out as a much more worthy sequel to the original than I could have ever imagined. It may not be as good as the original film – and let’s face it, it never was going to be – but it’s easily one of this year’s biggest surprises so far. It’s huge, loud, exhilarating and respects the franchise’s origins.
Fans of the original should hopefully feel appeased after the so-so follow ups, and new audiences will be sure to love it. I did and I honestly didn’t think I would. If that isn’t enough to get you to see it, I don’t know what will be.
Image credit to http://www.screenrant.com