22 years after Steven Spielberg introduced us to Isla Nublar and the world of Jurassic Park, Colin Trevorrow reopens the doors for the fourth instalment of the dino-tastic series with Jurassic World. With Spielberg on board as executive producer, and over a decade since the easily forgettable Jurassic Park III, the Safety Not Guaranteed helmsman hopes to spark some much needed life back into this once loved franchise.
John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough; Jurrasic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park) dream of a fully functioning dinosaur theme park has become a reality. His InGen company – now owned by billionaire Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) – have fulfilled his ambitions and continued to push the dangerous boundaries of dinosaur genetic research. Having been open for 10 years, Jurassic World has begun to see a slump in visitor numbers and hope an exciting new attraction – a super dinosaur, the Indominus Rex – will bring hoards of tourists back to the park. When this super-intelligent creature escapes its compound, all hell breaks loose, leaving Jurassic World big wig Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt), and a gang of gun touting military-types, running around trying to bring down the beast before it can get its dino-paws on the 20,000 guests that populate the island.
“Do these people ever learn?” This ominous, rhetorical question posed by a rather frustrated park worker before the shit once again hits the fan in the world of pre-historic creatures, perfectly encapsulates the Jurassic series. Humans and dinosaurs don’t mix, yet the former – due mainly to the smell of dollar signs – refuse to take the deadly hint. Following two less-loved sequels, World goes straight back to where it all began for its inspiration. With plenty of more-than-respectful nods, both aesthetically (you can’t miss them) and structurally (lost kids, dinosaur on the loose, a blossoming romance… ), to the 1993 original, Trevorrow has gone back to the tried and tested formula to give this money-printing series a kick up the backside.
While it has been given a 21st century touch-up, it’s still a park led by big ideas and mind-blowing innovations, with a thick sprinkling of ethical conundrums floating around. The set-pieces are still impressive, and the much loved John Williams theme tune still captures the imagination, but it certainly doesn’t carry that same youthful-like charm, nor the heart-pounding fear factor, the original possessed. Pratt and Howard are engaging, interesting leads, while Jake Johnson’s Lowery looks to fill the Jeff Goldblum-sized void (oh how we miss him!) with a dose of passable humour, but those over-computerised dinosaurs take an almighty shine off of otherwise enjoyable, glamorous looking proceedings. When they roar, we snore…
All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Jurassic World swoons over its much older, sophisticated original like the young buck trying to gain the attention of the hot, too-cool-for-school preppy girl at the back of the class. It would be a T-Rex-sized understatement to suggest that World has paid its respects to Spielberg’s 1993 classic. Each not-so-subtle hat tip, or its carbon copy plot strands, felt like Trevorrow’s own personal love letter to the daddy of dino flicks. Not that this is a necessarily a bad thing.