I think it’s time to call it quits when your heroine (who presumably has not set foot in the muddy trails of a tropical jungle in all her years) is able to outrun a rampaging Tyrannosaurus Rex, wearing heels so high they could double as spears. The scene would have been more plausible had the heels been on the dinosaur and the film played in reverse.
Jurassic World is the fourth film about genetically designed prehistoric monsters eating humans for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as post-workout snacks, and it steps blindly into such perilous territory that it almost performs harakiri by default. This is a movie that lacks wonder, excitement, ingenuity, and any kind of intellect, for the people we see on screen running about trying to solve major problems are not so much people as they are limbs without brains.
Here’s a little taste. The theme park that houses man-eating dinosaurs has had a malfunction (wait, again?), causing its most isolated, savage animal to burst out of its enclosure, endangering thousands of happy-faced tourists. Two kids have been stranded in a glass gyrosphere that glides over the landscape like a marble on ice. The warning system sounds. The gyrosphere switches to manual mode (what, why?). The older kid in the pod decides to explore the country in the hopes of, you know, seeing something cool. The younger boy, his brother, says he’s scared and wants to find safety. The older boy, being the good protective sibling, presses on through a broken perimeter fence, wide-eyed. Perimeter fences in monster movies serve two purposes. They either keep danger out or let ignoramuses in. Before long, both boys are fleeing for their lives and leaping off waterfalls. Gratuitous action scene, one. Intellect, nil.
The premise here is that Jurassic World, a multibillion dollar zoological park, has been open to the public for a number of years now. Never mind that a similar park opened twenty-odd years ago and almost redeveloped the food chain. It’s nothing a few extra billion dollars and popular demand can’t fix. Dinos roar, and in a particularly bombastic experience, a giant deep sea reptile breaches to swallow a great white shark whole.
Millions flock to the island every year, though it’s hard to tell if they’re there for the dinosaurs or the food along the central thoroughfare. We meet Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). She runs the show when the boss isn’t around. She doesn’t know much about dinosaurs. Granted, she doesn’t know much about humans either. Her job, both in the movie and in the park, is to look suave and sophisticated while calculating that if dinosaurs break out of their cages, they’ll do more harm to her bank account than to civilisation.
Break out of their cages they do. Before long, people are screaming and getting eaten and the park is in lockdown mode. SWAT teams armed with BB guns storm the jungle and never come out. At one point hundreds of Pterodactyls taunt panicked patrons by picking them off the streets and tossing them like unrehearsed circus acts. It’s all chaos.
On the other side of the island, where it’s picturesque and serene, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) polishes his motorcycle. He’s the velociraptor guy. He’s nurtured them from infancy and has appointed himself alpha of the pack. Just watch the way he represses millions of years of dinosaur instinct by using stern words and harsh tones. Even tigers are not that obedient.
Owen is called in to track down the Indominus Rex, the hybrid runaway concocted by scientists to attract more clueless paying customers. He soon adopts the role that most mad scientists and iconoclastic field experts have: The professional who actually knows what he’s talking about but can’t get a foot in the door because everyone around him are complete idiots.
I’d comment on the acting by the more than capable cast (including Vincent D’Onofrio as a thinly drawn baddie), but I see no point. People going to see Jurassic World don’t want to worry about Oscar-worthy performances. They want to see dinosaurs do their dino thang. Rest assured, these people will be happy. But what about the audiences who actually give a damn about engaging stories and smart characters? What about the fans of Spielberg’s 1993 film who want to bathe in nostalgia? I’m afraid there’s little here for them. Director Colin Trevorrow has extracted the raw material from Spielberg’s classic and injected only a percentage into this film. It’s not enough. What Jurassic World needs, given its well of resources, is more abled writing, characters who can comprehend the idea of danger, more animatronics and less CGI, dinosaurs that understand when it’s time to eat other dinosaurs and not part ways as if an understanding has been reached, and for god’s sake, someone buy that girl some sneakers.
Best Moment | Team Velociraptor, I guess.
Worst Moment | The ridiculous threeway dino-brawl climax. Scratch that — it’s all pretty terrible.