The dinosaurs are back on Isla Nublar – with added bite. Literally, because the DNA of several species have been spliced together to create an entirely new dinosaur.
Predictably, carnage ensures, the death toll amounts, and an epic battle awaits. You could write the plot yourself, it’s that predictable.
But Jurassic World is brilliant regardless. Everybody remembers their first time watching Jurassic Park and Jurassic World drips with nostalgia. There is enough here to appease old and new fans alike, so its not surprising that it has beaten The Avengers and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 for having the biggest opening weekend ever. Kids, and big kids, will be lapping this up.
Set 22 years after Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is a direct sequel to the revered classic, without completely disregarding the two sequels. They were both set on the neighbouring island of Isla Sorna. But Park and World are both located on Isla Nublar, where a fully-functioning theme park now hosts thousands of visitors every year.
But even the thrill of riding baby dinosaurs and seeing a mosasaurus rise from a lagoon to chomp on a dangling shark cannot satisfy the thrill-seekers quite how they once could, and a new attraction is needed.
The film does a good job of showing viewers through the park without ramming the CGI creations down our throats. We all watched in awe the first time we saw the herd of brachiosaurus back in 1993, so such lingering shots aren’t needed here. To do so would mean that World is a complete copy of Park. Being a sequel and not a remake, the lack of focus on the dinosaurs we’ve already seen is surprisingly a good thing.
Enter Claire Dearing, and her genetically modified Indominus Rex. Dearing initially appears to be pretty one-dimensional, but throughout the course of the film she prospers and becomes a heroine to rival Chris Pratt’s charismatic lead. But more on these two in a moment.
The Indominus Rex contains DNA from tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptor, cuttlefish, tree frogs and a whole host of other species, meaning that nobody is quite sure of its abilities. But raised alone in captivity, the Indominus Rex is smart, and it’s not long before she escapes and starts feasting on the park workers and members of the public.
Like most monster movies, the big bad is slowly revealed throughout the course of the movie. We don’t see the Indominus Rex straight away. We only see her eyes, or her stomping feet, and this of course amps up the expectation.
The dinosaur looks real enough – well, compared to the other CGI creations – so it fits right in. Most cinema-goers will know very little about the genetic makeup of dinosaurs, so the need to stretch one’s imagination isn’t necessary. The Indominus Rex will be accepted immediately.
Owen Grady, a velociraptor trainer, is the character that humanises Claire Dearing, and both Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard do a convincing job. They lead this movie easily. Others are pretty much stock characters – Vincent D’Onofrio is the typical baddie, and Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins as the annoying kids grate on you instantly. But Pratt is a delight immediately, bringing just a pinch of his Star-Lord swagger from Guardians of the Galaxy. You’ll root for this pairing.
Some new scenes come directly out of the original. The iconic shot of the tyrannosaurus rex destroying a Jeep is recreated here, as is the emphatic soothing of a dying dinosaur.
But others are exceptionally realised. The flock of pterosaurs attacking the visitors is breathtaking to watch and gives you genuine chills – though moments later you’ll be laughing out loud as one of the team is repeatedly thrown in the air by sparring pterosaurs before finally being devoured by the aforementioned mosasaurus.
Likewise, the final battle between the Indominus Rex, a quartet of trained velociraptors, and the iconic tyrannosaurus rex from Jurassic Park (it’s been confirmed to be the exact same dinosaur from the original, making this one of only two characters to return for this fourth instalment … if you can call a tyrannosaurus rex a character) is fantastically realised on screen.
A sequel has been set up, and it looks as though returnee B. D. Wong’s Dr. Henry Wu will be taking centre stage. After the success of this movie, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm return. The premise of the sequel – exploitation of the dinosaurs – would easily allow these three to return. I just hope Pratt and Howard are on board too. But either way I’m eager to see what the creative team cooks up in their film labs, and I suspect many of those who were sceptical about this sequel will be on board too.
Jurassic World exceeded all expectations.