Sunday, 28 June 2015

Jurassic World

Title: Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Released: 2015
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Lauren Lapkus

Plot: Twenty-two years after the events of the original film, Isla Nublar is now the fully functioning dinosaur theme park that John Hammond had envisioned. However after 10 years of operating, the park is starting to lose its appeal to visitors leading to the creation of a new dinosaur named Indominus Rex only for it to soon break out of its enclosure put the park staff in a race against time to stop it.


Review: Ok so perhaps this review is coming more than a bit late to the party, which at this point no doubt consists of a few scattered die hard fans still dissecting the film and an absence of onion dip and while this is no doubt one review amongst the hundreds which have been published since the film’s release to huge box office success and smashing the record held by “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, something which was hardly surprisingly seeing how we are still talking about the original films even after all this time, with the buzz leading up to the film’s release easily being comparable to that of “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Still coming out of the film I felt I needed to get something written down about this film, if only to try and figure out what was missing / broken with this film which upon the credits rolling left me with mixed feelings about what I had just watched.

Taking a break from the usual dino island antics of the last two films, the film this time essentially gives us what many of us wanted to see after the first film and that’s the fully functioning theme park that John Hammond has envisioned in the first film and whose fully operational state had been teased during the lunch scene between the main characters as a slide show of coming attractions played on the screen around them. Considering some of the ideas which had come up during the long production history for this film, I’m glad that this is the one they went with, rather than any of the more random ones which would have seen raptors being used by the military's bio-weapon division let alone the more random dino-soldier hybrid idea which seemingly has refused to die after being rejected for part 3.

Here the film takes what essentially is the next logical step for the franchise, as the park now faces difficulty keeping the interest of its visitors who have long since outgrown the awe and wonder of seeing these extinct creatures being brought back, while the corporation running the park have turned it into a garish Disney World style attraction complete with a dino petting zoo and their Mosasurus being used to put on “Sea World” style performances as she drenches delighted audiences a tent pole scene in the trailer which surprisingly still played well. Needless to say this is the vision that CEO Simon Masrani (Khan) wants for the park as he continues the boundless enthusiasm that Hammond had for the park which he has now inherited, with the passing of Richard Attenborough being written into the film and who here we being honoured with a statue in the park, while Stan Winston also gets honoured for his ground breaking special effects work on the previous films by a restaurant chain called “Winston”.

These nods to the previous films Trevorrow scatters throughout the film making this as much a tribute to the previous films as it is a sequel and varies in how obvious they are from the skeleton of the spinosaurous and Tim’s night vision goggles, though to the more obscure such as a scrap of the “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” banner and blood droplets mirroring Malcom’s Chaos theory pick up technique we see him using on Ellie in the first film. Of course great pleasure for the fans can be found in trying to spot all these references and brought back memories of gleefully pointing out new footage when they released the special editions of the “Star Wars” saga, only this time no one is having their childhood memories crushed.

Despite the solid frame work Trevorrow builds for the film, it unfortunately runs afoul of trying to combine to many plotlines as we have the brothers Zach (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) visiting the park were their aunt Claire (Howard) works as the operations manager. We also have the ongoing battle between Velociraptor rainer Owen (Pratt) battling with the head of InGen’s security opertions Vic (D’Onofrio) who is constantly pushing for the use of dinosaurs as weapons. From here we also get a variety of minor plotlines being spun off, including the divorce of Zach and Gray’s parents and the hidden motives of Dr. Wu which sees B.D. Wong returning to the role he played in the first film in a greatly increased role, though frustratingly one which leaves us questioning if he is as evil as his black turtleneck suggests while his characters actions seem to have been written mainly to give this film a lead into an inevitable sequel.

 The adult cast are largely great in their various roles, with Pratt once again wheeling out his usual charm and quick wit to give another enjoyable performance as he continues in many ways to provide directors with a younger Harrison Ford making it hardly surprising that Pratt is currently being linked with so many former roles played by Ford. Interestingly Ford was originally going to be in the film, only to drop out after his experiences making Indy 4 and leaving me in many ways with the belief that if he had sign on that we would be seeing playing Pratts role here as essentially a more laid back version of Robert Muldoon from the original film. Howard gets to play the opposite as the career driven business woman who over the course of the film warms to being an aunt while getting to hunt dino in high heels, which has become one of the more surprisingly discussed topics of this film. The brother however are just horrible as neither Robinson or Simpkins can seemingly decide what emotion they are going to play at any given moment as they go back and forth between excitedly happy and miserable, while the subplot involving their parents’ divorce felt unneeded more so when this pair can’t ever seem to decide what emotion they are supposed to be playing at any given moment.

Thankfully there is enough fun dino action to distract from the films flaws with the Indominus Rex seemingly representing the audiences expectations for bigger and better, as it has the ability to camouflage and hide from heat sensors thanks to some of the borrowed DNA in its makeup. The raptors once more get the majority of the focus thank that’s to Owen’s wrangling techniques which ultimately come off more hit and miss when put into play while someone clearly felt that the much maligned talking dino gimmick from part 3 needed to come back and once again feels as clumsy as it did previously.  Still there is at least plenty of varieties to hold your attention while Trevorrow manages to find serval unique demises for the parks visitors and staff, while ensuring that were possible the dinosaurs are kept to the forefront whenever possible, clearly knowing the reason audiences are showing up. Sadly though the effect doesn’t seem to have the same freshness they once did, with the lines between the CGI and practical effects surprisingly more obvious, this is especially surprisingly when you consider that the effects are being handled by “Legacy” the studio which was formed in the wake of Stan Winston’s death. At the same time I couldn’t tell if this line being so obvious was more down to the fact I was watching the film in HD rather than the technique being used and which tends to highlight such things further.

Ultimately the film hits the beats you want to hit, even though the experience frequently feels like something is lacking / missing and while it might be fun to see random cast members being turned into dino chow again you can’t help wonder if the film is riding off the legacy of the series and that if presented as a standalone film would we would be so forgiving? As such this is a flawed yet enjoyable return to the park and hopefully the wait for the next visit won’t be so long, especially when it leaves the series with plenty of room to grow.

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