REVIEW: Jurassic World

Jurassic_World_posterUK Rating: 12A

Release Date: 11th June 2015

Running Time: 124 minutes

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Genre:  Action, Sci-fi

Starring: Irrfan Khan, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Omar Sy, Nick Robinson

Well, after being traumatised by ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘The Lost World’ as a child (I didn’t even go to see ‘Jurassic Park III’, although I was well into my teens by the time it came out) my first inclination was to give this a miss as well. But the whole ‘raptor whisperer’ thing in the trailer was just too intriguing. I borrowed my Mum’s ‘Jurassic Park’ boxset to see whether watching ‘Jurassic World’ in the cinema was going to be a good idea, and was pleasantly surprised to find that whilst still excellent films (1 & 2 at any rate), they were no longer off-the-charts terrifying. I suppose after almost 20 years of CGI, we would be far more shocked if the dinosaurs didn’t look real.

For this reason, they would probably never have been able to make a film as scary as the original two, and (wisely, in my opinion) they don’t seem to have been trying. What they have made is a thoroughly enjoyable family film that has very much the ‘feel’ of the first film, with a bit more romance and action, and rather less terror. Although the scenario is pretty similar – nasty carnivorous dinosaurs get loose on the island – the way things play out is fresh and imaginative enough that it never feels like a pale imitation of ‘Jurassic Park’.

I’d caught the odd headline about sexism in the film, but came out scratching my head. The heroine, Clare (Bryce Dallas Howard), is a high heel and suit-wearing, hard-nosed business woman, and clearly no Lara Croft. But most women aren’t, so I can’t see what’s sexist about that. She’s out of her element, but does extremely well, saving the life of Owen (Chris Pratt), the hero, on at least one occasion. When her nephews, Zach and Gray, say, ‘We’re staying with you!’ and Clare says, ‘Don’t worry I’m never going to leave you!’ only for them to say, ‘Not you, him!’ pointing at Owen, one knows exactly where the boys are coming from. But it’s ultimately Clare who orchestrates the final victory while Owen’s hiding in a souvenir shop with the kids. So what’s so sexist about the film, I can’t make out. The high heels were an odd decision by the filmmakers, I will agree. Yes, they would have broken, and no, she couldn’t have outrun anything in them. But if you start looking for weak spots in the plot, there are worse ones than impractical shoes – it’s not, after all, a watertight-plot type of film.

It’s the first film that has a military-trained – rather than pure scientist – hero. Owen is a former Navy man turned dinosaur behavioural specialist. With his dual spheres of experience, he’s is definitely a good guy to have around when a super-dinosaur runs amuck. He has his own little pack of velociraptors – Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo. They’ve all imprinted on him at birth and think he’s their alpha. He has a strong bond with them and has them well trained – but he still prefers to keep his deadly friends on the other side of a good strong fence if he can. Which shows he understands them much better than Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), the closest thing to a human ‘bad guy’ the film has. Hoskins is convinced the raptors would serve the US army better than drones (yes, you did read that correctly). Needless to say, he’s criminally stupid rather than outright evil – although the idea of loosing a velociraptor on anyone is pretty unpleasant, it isn’t really any worse than any other means of killing.

Unfortunately this is yet another family film where the film makers choose to add a little more angst by having the parents of Zac and Gray in the middle of a divorce, once again contributing to the ‘normalising’ of divorce for younger (and older) viewers. However, this is the only significant moral quibble with the film. Though I did find Clare’s decision to charge off and look for her nephews in person slightly dubious, seeing that she seemed to be in charge of the park, and thus the safety of the other 20,000 people who were also in danger.

As with the other films in the series, there is a clear warning about humans playing God mixed in with all the mayhem. Although it is tremendous fun seeing all the different attractions at the park, there is never any doubt that it is all a Very Bad Idea.

My only other niggle was that Irrfan Khan’s very likeable character was rather under-utilised, as, to a less glaring extent, was Omar Sy’s character – twice the shame, since they were the two main non-white actors. But…

Overall: I enjoyed the film tyrannosaurously and would like to see it again. I suspect it may be the first Jurassic Park film to make it onto my shelf!

A few rules learned from the Jurassic Park films:

Rule 1: Don’t bring back dinosaurs.

Rule 2: If you break rule 1, don’t genetically engineer a new super-dinosaur.

Rule 3: If someone breaks rule 1 or 2, do not go to the island where the dinosaurs are. Ever. For any reason.

Rule 4: If you break rule 3, and there is an announcement – ‘Due to an unusual Asset containment situation, take cover’ – drop your coke and take cover immediately!

I’m tempted to add, Rule 5: Never, ever, ever let out the velociraptors – but that wouldn’t quite be fair, would it? 😉 Now you’ve got to watch it…

Sex/Violence/Profanity: No sex scenes. Mild innuendo and a couple of kisses. Threat and moderate violence. Blood but no graphic shots of wounds. Quite a few deaths. I don’t remember noticing any strong language – which is probably the most unrealistic thing in the film!

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