JURASSIC WORLD, much like its terrifying central monster threat, is a bit of a strange beast pulling its DNA from a variety of sources. Fortunately none of it appears to have been extracted and transposed from a turkey: When it’s good, it’s very, very good, when it’s not it’s okay, just a bit silly and at worst a bit slow; unfortunately it’s good only about 40% of the time.
Set some 22 years after the events of the original Jurassic Park (JW never mentions or references the other two sequels, and I’m pretty much happy go along with that) Jurassic World is the dream of John Hammond made real: Isla Nublar has been open for 10 and years attracts thousands of visitors every day to bask in its resurrected dinosaur attractions. Unfortunately, the park has now been open long enough for dinosaurs to (according to those most dreaded of things: Focus groups) become a bit passé, leading to the decision to create a new scarier, more aggressive attraction from the DNA of various other dinosaurs and creatures. Obviously, creating this new iDinosaur is a bad idea, a bad idea that has horrific results when it inevitably escapes and goes on the rampage, as Jeff Goldblum’s (sadly missed) character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, would have it, “Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.”
The lead actors are appealing enough and keep just this side of being cardboard, although it would be a real push to actually describe any of them as fully rounded. Chris Pratt, so likeable in last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, plays ex-Navy man Owen Grady seconded to the park to wrangle velociraptors (yeah, that’s never satisfactorily explained, so don’t ask me), but basically he’s Doug McClure: mildly cheeky but stoic and always, always right. Bryce Dallas Howard plays JW Director of Operations, a career woman with no time for relationships or family who… well, you can guess where her arc is heading, especially when she and Pratt have to race toward the oncoming danger in order to rescue her nephews, dumped on her by their divorcing parents and lost somewhere in the park.
Irrfan Khan turns up as the park owner who flip-flops between running Jurassic World for the benefit of science, the animals and profit and whose fate is pretty much laid out the first time we meet his character. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the unnecessary bad guy who actually isn’t that bad at all and whose arc could have been excised completely and nobody would notice.
But it’s in the action scenes that JURASSIC WORLD excels. Director Colin Trevorrow harks back to Spielberg’s original, using many of the same action beats and conceits to create an exciting and sweaty palmed thrill ride. The iRex escape is especially good, I say “Good”, I mean terrifying, the pacing is terrific and there is a sense of awe as everything drops into place (I should just say that this is probably the scene which will upset younger viewers the most, it’s a 12A certificate and I would say it’s the upper end of 12A). The final action sequence turns into a Battle Royale of dino’ badasses which is fun but not quite as fist-pumpingly good as you would hope, not like that moment the T-Rex turns up at the end of the original.
Occasionally the film tries to be a bit “Meta”, working as a critique of itself and the whole blockbuster/Summer tent-pole phenomenon (for instance, it’s no coincidence that the Mosasaur is fed with a Great White Shark), it’s a bit obvious and doesn’t really cut it on that level for me. It also tries to say something about the way we interact with experiences, through the screens on our phones rather than face to face somewhat more successfully, but that’s just a throwaway aside, a clever observation but, again, unnecessary.
There’s plenty of fun to be had in JURASSIC WORLD, just a little more of it would have been nice. It’s not Jurassic Park but, by the same token, neither is it The Lost World or JPIII, thank goodness.
Check out the showtimes and even book your Odeon seats online.