Did you ever end up with one franchise they you kept going back to and stayed with you from a young age, well for me that was Jurassic Park, I love the original movie, in fact I would say it is probably in one of my top ten movies of all time. I have been to the cinema to see all of the movies and yes that does mean that I was three when I first saw the first film and as my Auntie and Grandmother like to embarrassingly point out, I did fall asleep in the cinema half way through, luckily I woke up just in time to see the famous T Rex scene. Jurassic World is the latest and fourth installment of the franchise and feels rather belated, considering the last film was 14 years ago!! With this new film being directed by Colin Trevorrow and being executive produced by Steven Spielberg, so the only question is, was the incubation period (no pun intended) there to make a good decent movie?
The plot of Jurassic World takes place 22 years after the events of the original film. The tag line sums it up pretty well, the park is now open but has been re-branded Jurassic World. However, owner Simon (played by Irrfan Khan) fears that attendance is down too low and needs a big wow factor, because you know, being the only place in the world to have living breathing dinosaurs is not enough, so he instructs Dr Heny Wu (played by BD Wong) to create a new hybrid using a Tyrannosaurus as a base model, because of course Ingen never learns from it’s mistakes!! However, many of the investors are concerned along with Simon as to whether the attraction is safe, so they send in Velocoraptor trainer (yes, really) Owen (played by Chris Pratt) to check on the enclosure, however, during the check the new dinosaur Indominus Rex escapes and it’s up to Owen and his boss Claire (played by Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Ron Howard) to get the dinosaur back and under control.
Now I am going to go through a few more of the negatives to start off with, because believe me this film has a few more positives than my initial summation of the plot would suggest. For starters, there is nothing to tell us what has happened to bridge the gap between films. This seems especially baffling considering there has been 14 years between the films!! Both of the other sequels did have at least some throw away lines of dialogue to explain what has been going on. There isn’t really much to bridge the gap between films and in fact a couple of the lines which they use to try and explain actually contradict character motivations from previous films. Also this film has way too many homages to the first film and I don’t mean 5 or 6 times, no, I mean almost every other scene has some sort of homage to the first film in a way a scene is shot or in some line of dialogue. It’s actually baffling! It’s a film that has obviously been written and directed by people that really like the first Jurassic Park film, however this is to their detriment because they obviously liked it a bit too much! I can see the first film anytime I want. I want to see something new here! I don’t care if you change the scene where the dinosaur appears in the mirror, so it’s a Velociraptor rather than a T Rex, I’m still pretty aware that you are copying the first film and it almost feels kind of lazy at times. I would also say that this film is really under-done by it’s first half. The first half is rather dull and you are just waiting for things to kick off and also in this first half makes the characters feel really, really stupid, especially considering they don’t see the danger in creating a brand new animal where they would have absolutely no knowledge of beforehand of its behavioural patterns or its physical abilities and be able to contain it. When scientists actually do this sort of genetic experimentation in reality, they at least do it in a way that has to have tons of risk assessments done as well and is usually done on animals that are not likely to kill you! Luckily the characters at least develop pretty well throughout the film and are at least somewhat enjoyable, with the exception of the character Hoskins (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) who is a dumb ass if he thinks he can train the Raptors into being a military weapon! Yes, because you always see the military going to Afghanistan with trained Lions to smoke out the enemy, brilliant!! While we are on it, let’s get on down to the training of the Velociraptors. Now, Chris Pratt’s character uses a method called clicker training to train the Raptors into recognising him being the alpha male of the group and also there is a throw away line that he used imprinting training on them when they were young. Now I have a degree in animal behaviour and welfare and I don’t find this as far fetched as I first thought it was going to be, though I am pretty sure clicker training would not work on reptiles, it’s mainly used on mammals. I’m not saying that this doesn’t work within the context of the film, in fact it kind of does because they establish the animals pack mentality and these films have constantly gone out of their way to say the Raptors are super intelligent, though I don’t fully buy into it and I couldn’t turn off my brain entirely with it. Also the Indominus Rex is the big selling point for this film, it’s the next dinosaur they hope people will love more than the T Rex from the first film, and they have failed once again, although I will say this one was a much better attempt that the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park 3 and despite the fact that T Rex is barely on the screen at the beginning of the film it does eventually show up again and it is glorious, they definitely did a much better job with the T Rex in this film than they did in the previous film, but can we please have more of it if you do another one! It’s the reason everyone goes to see these movies, by the way I was hearing the Nostalgia critics T Rex song for half the time I was watching the film when T Rex was on screen! Right, back to Indominus Rex. The dinosaur has an interesting design and if you can easily guess what dinosaur it has been mixed with in the lab during the first twenty minutes of the dinosaur being on screen showing its intelligence levels, because it is very, very obvious. I noticed that a lot of the people around me found the twist kind of shocking and yes this was a packed cinema when I went to see it. The unfortunate side to this though, is that the Indominus Rex comes off as being monster and not an animal but luckily the film acknowledges this. It fully agrees that this animal is basically Frankenstein Rex and treats it as a genetic monster and not an animal and the film wisely treats all the other creatures as being more like animals and it is particularly evident in Chris Pratt’s dialogue, which he really sells and convinces you that he has a real understanding of these animals and has worked with them extensively. He reminded me a lot of the zoologist Nigel Marvin who did a few ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ specials. That’s the major problem with the film, the plot has quite a few implausibilities and you just have to accept it and is really doesn’t answer the question of what happened when they turned up on the original island and found all the dinosaurs from the previous film roaming about, did they capture them? Did they kill them? There is also never a point where the scientist thinks he is the lyceum contingency within the first film to kill the Indominus Rex, in case you don’t remember, there is a throw away line from Samuel L Jackson’s character gave that they could turn off something in the dinosaurs genetics where they would not receive the enzyme therefore they would go into anaphylactic shock and die. It was never addressed in this film and you would have thought they would use the same technology to create these dinosaurs.
This film was like an uphill task in getting us accustomed to these characters, especially considering there is only one returning character from the first film, being Dr Henry Wu, you remember the Asian scientist who had about one or two lines in the first film in the scene where the Velociraptor’s hatched out of the eggs. Yes, it turns out that they have decided to expand his role for this film, which is definitely good considering he had a much more expanded role in the original book and this character has a much more menacing quality to him, especially when the big reveals happen in the second half of the film. The characters don’t start out very well but the develop pretty well throughout the film and you generally kind of enjoy them, especially the younger characters of Zach and Gray who are Claire’s nephews and while you think initially that Claire is going to be another dumb ass character that won’t learn their lesson and get killed at the end of the film, she actually develops pretty well and sees the error in a lot of her actions. The best character by far is Christopher Pratt’s Owen, he practically owns this film, no pun intended. He’s built up as being a real bad ass character but the film makers know to actually show him as being a bad ass rather than having people talk about him being a bad ass, but it’s not done to such an extent that he comes off as being invincible and he is a really great character. I have already mentioned my problem with Hoskins and most of the other characters range from middling in annoyance to slightly enjoyable, although I must say that for once I really enjoyed Jake Johnson as Lowery.
If this film is really under-done by its first half, it’s really sold by its second half. It’s when the film kicks off and it’s really enjoyable and it is a perfect ‘sit back in your chair with a bucket of popcorn and just enjoy yourself film’. It’s exactly what a good summer blockbuster should be. Once the film kicks off and most of the dinosaurs are out of their enclosures, then we are really enjoying ourselves, however, I can’t go into too much detail about the final few scenes of the film to avoid spoilers, but lets just say the final few scenes of the movie are excellent and most of the people around me were also, like me really watching with bated breath. I would also say that the dinosaurs feel a lot more real in their actions in this film than they did in Jurassic Park 2 & 3 and the film really meets the challenge of getting you to like these characters and see most of them getting out alive and the ones you don’t want to see come out alive, believe me, they don’t make it!! The only major plot hole I have noticed with this film is there is no one objecting to this park. Really!! After everything that happened in the first film and the incident where T Rex went round San Diego in the 2nd, no one is questioning that this might be a really bad idea!! Where is Dr Grant and Ian Malcolm in all of this, or John Hammond’s Grandkids from the first movie, surely they would be protesting this park being opened. With all that aside, this is one case where reviewing this film actually makes me sound a lot more harsh on the plot than I really am because I actually really enjoyed a lot of aspects of the plot, particularly in the second half and especially in this films kick ass climax which is one of the best I’ve seen all year and had me on the edge of my seat.
On the acting front this film has actually got some fairly decent performances. Trust me, there is not William H Macey or Tea Leoni from the third film in this one, this one has a decent cast who give genuinely memorable performances. I have already mentioned that I really love Chris Pratt in this film, even if he is kind of getting a bit typecast at this point. I also thought Vincent D’Onofrio, despite the fact that he is playing a dumb ass character, did do a decent performance in that role and really sold it. Bryce Dallas Howard does a really good job and I would like to see her get a lot of work off the back of this film and despite the fact that she is meant to be romantically involved with Chris Pratt’s character, I don’t think they share enough chemistry on screen, so it is not entirely believable. The real surprise for me is Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins the younger actors playing the young brothers visiting the park for the week, who are actually genuinely good, I thought they would be the worst performance of the film, but they are very believable and have genuine chemistry, you can genuinely believe these two are brothers. Irrfan Khan does a decent job as Simon, the film is full of very good performances particularly from B D Wong who once again delivers a pretty brilliant performance. There were only a few actors that don’t really leave much of an impression and that’s mainly because they are usually eaten, this is particularly the case for Katie McGrath who plays Zara whose death is so brutal and prolonged and I actually think that it might be a bit psychologically scaring for kids, even more so than the lawyer getting eaten in the toilet in the first film! Omar Sy as fellow raptor trainer Barry is also doing a decent job throughout his role but I feel he is under utilised and believe me, after suffering through watching the first few episodes of New Girl, it’s great to finally see Jake Johnson in a role where you can actually enjoy him and the actors doing these performances show signs of good direction, most of the time when the actors fault, it’s usually in the first half and I think that is a writing issue where the writing is weaker than the second half. Overall much better cast than the 2nd and 3rd film which at this point is a real benefit.
Now I am sad to say that this film’s effect department is not where I am going to be giving the biggest praise. The effects are not bad by any means but when you compare them with the first film, they don’t work as well. The dinosaurs just don’t look as, for the lack of a better term, organic as the first film. They just feel like CGI creations rather than actual living, breathing animals, which was what the first film gave off very well. I think a lot of this is down to the fact that there is little to no practical effects in the film. All the others at least got some practical effects down that were in a lot of ways half decent. This film on the other hand doesn’t quite fully achieve that, as I said the effects aren’t terrible, they are actually quite passable, but I don’t think they work as well when compared with the other films. There is on the other hand, excellent cinematography and the effects department, when they work well, do work pretty well, the dinosaurs are all animated pretty well and at least work somewhat in the environment. The design of the rides in the Park are very inventive and take advantage of the environment of where the locations were shot, however I do think a couple of these attractions wouldn’t pass a lot of Health and Safety inspections, I’m not sure being that close to dinosaurs even when they are herbivorous (which once again have been reduced to prop status for the sake of the carnivores) would really get past a safety inspection. I know we have Safari Parks but even then, those aren’t animals that could crush you with one foot being put down!! Also I don’t care who your are, you are never going to get away with having people kayaking down a river with stegosaurus’s by the side of it!! That’s an accident solicitor’s dream!! In fact this whole park is an accident solicitors dream!! On the plus side, however, the actors do work very well with the CGI for the most part and you can tell that they have memorised where the effects are meant to be and how to interact with them very well. This plays definitely to the films advantage. The action scenes are shot very well, though I did think a couple of them were shot by someone who really should have taken their hand off the zoom button. I haven’t seen a camera zoom in and out of action this much since Man of Steel and it was annoying there too, this is particularly evident in the scene where all the flying dinosaurs of varying species get out of the aviary and attack people. I don’t think that is a spoiler because I am pretty sure that was in a couple of the trailers. The Indominus Rex is an interesting design and really comes over as threatening enough and the other dinosaurs haven’t really changed that much except the Velociraptors have lost that weird mohawk thing that they had in the third film. Seriously, what was that all about!! The only other new dinosaur to talk about is the giant underwater dinosaur that feeds on sharks, the Mosasaurus, and this dinosaur is done to brilliant effect even though the science is slightly questionable and it’s been overplayed in all the trailers, who would have imagined it, a questionable scientist in a Jurassic Park Movie! Plus I loved the design of the enclosure, especially the whole sea show similar to what modern attractions do with Orca’s, but then descends into the underwater observatory rather similar to a lot of shark tank exhibits.
I saw the film in 3D and I would actually argue that it is not really worth seeing it in that format, which is rather surprising for two reasons. One, this was one of the few films where the trailer was being shown in 3D indicating that the film was really shot for that format and two, the original film was post-converted into 3D for it’s 20th anniversary and was done very well, by the way I did see that original film in 3D in preparation for this one, and if you have the ability to see it that way I would recommend it, this one on the other hand I would say stick to the 2D. Some of the shots where height plays a factor, the 3D effect works very well especially in the feeding of the Mosasaurus which has been overplayed in all the trailers and adverts for this film, however, for the most part I don’t think you are missing out on much, despite the fact that the 3D works very well in the film’s awesome climax! Seriously this film has an amazing end scene, and it is a shame that I can’t talk about it to avoid spoilers, because it is one of most awesome things I have seen on a cinema screen all year, even if it is slightly convoluted!
Does Jurassic World have any negatives? Yes. I have listed a lot of my negatives of the film, but while it’s a bit convoluted and I am sure people will find reasons to pick it apart, I still think this is better than both Jurassic Park 2 & 3. Jurassic World is very surprising, I was expecting this film to be an absolute train wreck, but it’s actually turned out to be a rather enjoyable film and I think I will be re-visiting this one more than The Lost World or Jurassic Park 3. The effects may be a slight down grade, but the plot is actually half way decent, there are actually some good performances, especially Chris Pratt and while it can get a bit convoluted at times, it’s not actually that bad. This has been an excellent kick off to the summer season and gives hope for future films. It’s not perfect by any means, but I would say if you enjoyed the first film, you will enjoy this one as well. The film is slightly open ended, suggesting there may be a 5th one on the horizon, to which I say NO, quit while you are ahead!
So what were your thoughts on Jurassic World? Was it a decent follow up after the abysmal jurassic park sequels or is it just so so? Leave something in the comments section please. Now, a simple question for you this week:
What is your favourite Dinosaur and why?
My one is T Rex and it’s because of that scene in the rain in the first film, come on, that was awesome!!
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Well unfortunately while you are reading this, I am probably away on my business trip and I was hoping to review the Minions Movie when I got back, however time schedules have prevented that so I was forced to pick from one of the films that came out this year, but has been sitting on my DVD shelf waiting to be viewed, and there were quite a few to pick from, so I decided that on 3 July you will be seeing my review of the European Action Film that went direct to DVD “Northman, A Viking Saga”. Yes I am reviewing another DVD that half of you haven’t heard of, but I do half of these reviews to try and convince people to see a film that you wouldn’t normally go and see.
I hope you enjoyed reading this review and I am sorry that we are taking a bit of time off over the next couple of weeks, I really do enjoy making these reviews and I don’t like to keep you guys in suspense. I am so appreciative of you all taking the time to read them. I also have brilliant IT and scribe people who help me get my thoughts out there.
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