Film Review: Jurassic World

So, this is essentially the biggest film, in my life, in recent years. What is, for want of a better description, part 4 in the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World is the one film that I have been waiting for this year more than any other. I fell in love with the big screen, and films in general, thanks to its original sibling. I was blown away by the sheer spectacle of it all and I dragged my parents back to the cinema in 1993 three times, desperate to relive the adventure, the emotions and the story over and over.

So, I have been worried about the latest incarnation. As I wrote in my snippet about it in the movies I want to see post I was “tinged with anxiety” towards it because the trailer seemed to imply a world too far removed from the original. A disconnected copy rather than an extension. The trailer just looked like they’d taken my memories and sterilised them; and that made me wonder whether I’d come away from the film having tainted something I hold so dear. So panicked towards what the final product would be, I have literally avoided every review, opinion or discussion on the film to date. I didn’t want anything to sway me or influence me until I’d seen it. And so, along with 4 other people, I donned my 3D glasses and took in the very first 9.40am showing on the opening day of release! And having finally seen the film, I can say that I truly don’t know. In my head the simple opinions are clear, I love it, but when I think about it more, when I look at it a bit deeper I seem to just find problem, weakness, or issue.

Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Ty Simpkins & Nick Robinson - Jurassic World

Firstly, I am right in that the park now feels a bit too glossy and too clinical. Jurassic Park worked because you could smell the trees and feel nature in it’s environment. This time around that realism just isn’t there. It felt too much like an iPad versus a piece of paper. It just doesn’t feel alive. It looks like a place you’re watching on screen, a computer generation, rather than a physical object you can touch and visit. Secondly, I have issues with the plot. It doesn’t feel new, it’s this strange juxtaposition between simply repeating the first film while attempting to avoid the pitfalls of the second and third. There are huge elements that feel like they are nothing more than a modernised version of the original. Scenes and characters almost directly lifted, but tweaked slightly. And it left me feeling uneasy towards the film because I wasn’t sure if these were affectionate nods or lazy construction. And finally, I found the film long. I never looked at my watch or was really bored, but there are large passages where it felt like I was sitting around waiting for something to happen. It just feels a bit too padded out and at times static.

After my initial moans, however, I have to turn to a positive: the cast. It’s great to see Bryce Dallas Howard, not only lead the line but arguably steal the show. Her character Claire is strong and captivating and truly befriending. And aside from a couple of clichéd misogynistic moments, and the ability to outrun a dinosaur in high heels, she really gets inside you emotionally and acts as a brilliant link between you and the story. Chris Pratt alongside her is equally as strong, but somehow lacks that little bit of humility or needed nervousness to be quite as convincing. He’s a little bit too big screen “bad ass” and could, from time to time, walk on to the set of any action movie without feeling out of place.

BD Wong (Dr Henry Wu) - Jurassic World

The rest of the cast drop in and out wonderfully as well, emotionally pulling the story around as needed. Vincent D’Onofrio I detested, but you’re supposed to, and he really did make me loathe and hate him the longer it went on. Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson as the youngsters “lost in the park” don’t quite have the same loveable naivety or childlike adaptiveness that Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards brought to Tim and Lex in the original but never drag the film down and work well with Howard and Pratt as needed. My only real complaint about the cast though is with BD Wong as the returning Dr. Henry Wu. They’ve changed his personality to give him an edgier, almost aggressive arrogance and he felt totally out of place and out of character to how he originally was, and even how is portrayed in Michael Crichton’s source book.

As I said originally though, when I start to look deeper at the film I just find flaws and I can continue the trend. Obviously wanting to keep the connection to it’s past open, the film borrows from the original score, often unabridged and unmolested, and sadly, John William’s invoking and emotive melodies seem an ill fit. It returns to the fact that the film feels modern and sterile and “wipe clean”. Whilst William’s music is rich and deep and romantic. The two just fail to sit together and therefore, don’t compliment each other. And it’s noticeable, it now feels like an overlay rather than an element and it often caused my concentration with the film to break.

Chris Pratt & Velociraptor - Jurassic World

It’s not all bad though, and where Jurassic World really works is when it slows things down. When it drops the pace and lets the characters interact with each other, and the dinosaurs, when action gives way to narrative discussion. Then the film comes alive. It’s becomes the emotional roller coaster that it should be and all the tension, panic and fear of the original comes flooding back with vengeance. There were times when it feels uplifting, and there are time when the knot in your stomach, teased with suspense and panicking for a characters safety, is almost too tight to bear. But while these highs are there and stunningly so, they are broken too often by too little, by a sudden increase of pace, launching into a scene that seems implausible or an idea that felt forced. It never quite holds it’s strengths long enough to feel like that rule the majority.

For a film that swings so wildly up and down, amazingly, I also found it just a little bit too predictable. As mentioned earlier, it’s essentially cherry picked fragments of the other films and without any depth or even much new to say around them, you can see the big moments and concluding arguments long before they arrive, The story, while never truly obvious is certainly linear, and it doesn’t really twist or turn. Jurassic World tries to keep you guessing by sleight of hand trickery rather than true narrative illusion. And sadly, fails to really convince.

Richard Attenborough (John Hammond) - Jurassic Park

It feels like I should conclude this by saying how my childhood has been destroyed, how I sat there hating it, and how it’s mutilated the dream of John Hammond: eating ice cream reciting his tale of a simple flea circus, but I can’t. Because for every issue, for every thought of how the original is better, I have still loved it and even more, it has me feel 10 years old again. It isn’t as involving or as realistically inviting as the original, it is too modern and digital but that doesn’t matter, because whatever they do, whatever they genetically invent, the simple sight of a dinosaur will ignite my imagination and demand my attention.

It’s a flawed film, the original is better, but hand on heart, I’m close to going back and seeing it again.

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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