Films that divide audiences like Moses compartmentalising the Dead Sea aren’t exactly new, especially in these times of toxic fandom and the internet giving everyone a platform to say whatever the hell they want (let’s be honest here, you’re actually reading one right now) but surely there has been no other motion picture in recent memory that split opinions so cleanly whole making a ton of dough than Jurassic World.
Quite why Colin Tevorrow’s unexpected franchise elixir managed to haul in over a billion and a half dollars worldwide I’ll never know (although if I did I’d patent the shit out of it) but a good guess would be pure, unbridled nostalgia for a film series that never really quite realised it’s potential after it’s flawless first entry. After all, The Lost World and Jurassic Park III are quintessential examples of weak blockbusters costing by on their great bits and virtually nothing else; but in comparison, Jurassic World is crammed to the brim with crowd pleasing moments and plot wrinkles that tweak the established world in interesting ways.
It’s the near future and John Hammond’s dream of a dinosaur zoo has finally and posthumously been realised in the form of Jurassic World, a state of the art, prehistoric fun park where crowds gather to this lizard version of sea world to see goats get eaten. However, the world has gotten a little blasé at the notion of extinct super-predators stomping around on the face of the earth so the owners have decided to genetically create all new dinosaurs in order to ensnare the masses and before you can say “hold the phone, isn’t that INCREDIBLY dangerous?”, we are introduced to the Indominous Rex, a hulking, bone white killing machine that would make JP III’s Spinosaurus crap down the back of it’s legs.
Meanwhile, on another part of the island, rugged ethologist and all round mad bastard Owen Grady has seemly achieved the impossible and tamed a pack of four Velociraptors into following rudimentary commands, something which predictably causes the loins of the corporation’s military arm to throb with excitement. Suddenly to everyone’s suprise (except to literally anyone watching it) the Indominous Rex escapes and chimps and slays it’s way across the island as it tries to find it’s place in the food chain like a scaley Ted Bundy (hint: it’s very, very high) and the entire park is put on lockdown except for the visiting nephews of up tight Operations Manager Claire Dearing, who find themselves stranded thanks to this brand new, shiny killing machine.
As the park’s parent company, In-Gen, swoops in to mop up they decide to utilise Grady’s Raptor’s in the hunt for the I-Rex but this literal cold blooded murder monster has some tricks in it’s Frankenstein-esque DNA that no one has accounted for…
In many ways you could chalk up all the things that Jurassic World does right down to the relentless box ticking enterprise that the script employs with dizzying regularity – we finally see the titular park up and running, we get new dinosaurs, a tangible dino-villain and a metric ton of cool shit that sometimes veers between natural plot progression and over excited fan fiction. The chief of these is a villain-to-hero switch for the Raptors that rivals Arnie’s transition to shotgun wielding white hat in Terminator 2 and the film is savvy enough to keep them still completely lethal despite the fact they now follow orders for treats.
In fact, watching Owen square up to his four lizardy pupils with his arms outreached while verbally ordering them to stand down is an indelible image as anything else the franchise has presented us thus far; as is the random appearances of Jurassic World’s breakout star, a seventy-two foot long Mosasaurus, exploding from beneath the waves to snap it’s jaws shut on some poor, unsuspecting putz.
Also scoring high is Jurassic World’s huge amount of with classic Jurassic Park “oh, SHIT!” moments where we, the audience, cringe as the various walking people-buffets have no idea that their about to go through the intestinal tract of a dino like it’s a slimy flume of death with the unfortunate fate of a woman who falls foul of both a dive bombing Pterosaur AND the Mosasaurus ranking as one of the most disturbing deaths the franchise has ever presented.
However, despite it’s frenzied enthusiasm, there’s still a few faults inherent in the series that still manage to be irksome but if by now you still can’t muscle your way through the fact that ALL (even the first) of these movies are loaded with corporate idiocy and saurian-sized bouts of lapses of common sense as the plot virtually demands characters march their way into the jaws of various scaley predators, then maybe these movies just aren’t for you.
The overexcited throwback tone of the movie also extends to virtually all of the characters who admittedly act like they’ve freshly emerged, blinking against the glare of the sun, from a bunker where they’ve been hiding since the early 90’s. Owen is a standard, alpha male Indiana Jones clone who openly teases his female boss about a perceived frigidity whereas Claire is the standard frosty business woman, complete with a harsh bob and indestructible heels and it’s a testiment to the awe inspiring likeability factor of Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard that these characters aren’t actually way more offensive than they actually are.
Give yourself over to the whole retro feel of the movie and don’t think too hard and you may find yourself treated to a rollicking, fun adventure packed to the scales of awesome stuff your inner twelve year old will go nuts for – the baby dino petting zoo where toddlers can ride an infant triceratops had my throat closing with emotion thanks to the envy of my juvenile memories – that scores on fist pumping action beats far better than any other Jurassic sequel around. Watching Pratt on a motorbike speed through the woods in formation with his Raptor students is nothing short of freakin’ awesome and the final saurian smackdown that involves more shining teeth than the entire Kardashian clan is amazingly satisfying.
In fact, much like the genetically crossbred creatures it features, Jurassic World may have a brain the size of a brachiosaur (Claire out-running a T-Rex in heels is still a massive sticking point for some), but the damn thing moves like a Velociraptor on speed and for all it’s flaws, managed to get the franchise back in the public consciousness.
Box office finds a way…