It’s been 22 years since the original Jurassic Park reinvigorated the world’s love of dinosaurs, and it’s been 14 years since audiences last encountered these prehistoric beasts in the highly ridiculed Jurassic Park III. While not a critic or fan favourite, the third installment didn’t stop rumours of a fourth trip to the ill-fated theme park, with stories of dinosaurs invading the mainland, and even hybrid dino-humans circulating online for years. Now, after all these years, the time has come to return to Jurassic Park. And ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, they spared no expense.
The story picks up 22 years after the original, though we’re not entering Jurassic World on the ground floor. No, the park has been fully operational for a decade, and while a huge success, dinosaurs are no longer the shocking draw they once were. Instead of a world of wonder, Park Operations Manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) compares Jurassic World to a common zoo at this point, trying to convince investors to join them in new, cutting edge dinosaur gene-splicing that will bring the allure back to Jurassic World.
What’s so great about what Jurassic World does here is that they don’t go overboard with genetically altered dinosaurs right out of the gate. There aren’t Tristegosaurus, or Brachilophosaurus running around or being created (at least, not yet!). No, the park has focused its efforts on one genetically modified beast called “Indominus Rex.” What this does is allow fans of the franchise to see other dinosaurs that we’ve always wanted to see but didn’t make the cut in previous films.
There are Ankylosaurus, and pterodactyl (which were in Jurassic Park III; however, the way they’re done here is the way they’ll be remembered) as well as the unforgettable Mosasaur – who you probably know as the one who puts every other aquatic show to shame. Keeping it so that these dinosaurs are still the main focus of the park up until this point was smart, as it’s what we all wanted to see, and it ends up making the Indominus Rex that much more threatening.
Yes, like Die Hard we have to wonder, “How can the same thing happen to the same attraction four times?” Granted, the last two films took place on Isla Sorna (the “plan B” site to the original theme park) but it’s still the same idea of dinosaurs wreaking havoc and killing people. But that’s what’s so great about Indominus Rex! She throws out the dinosaur rulebook. When she escapes, she uses her genetically modified skills to kill for sport over hunting to survive. It’s a unique take on an old concept and it freshens everything else up right alongside it.
Another plus is getting to see the Jurassic World theme park the way John Hammond originally envisioned it. Seeing tens of thousands of visitors all walking around the park, watching live feedings, and even riding on the back’s of baby dinosaurs is a lot of fun. There’s a monorail that speeds around the island, and even a specially designed gyrosphere, which allows visitors to guide themselves through the more docile pens at Jurassic World.
Yes, it’s great to see the park fully functional, though the island does lose some of its size from the first film. Not literally, as it is the same island; however, when Grant, Lex and Tim are lost in the original film, it feels like they’ve got a huge journey ahead of them to get back to safety. In Jurassic World, everything moves so quickly that it does feel a lot more contained this time around.
Alongside Howard is Chris Pratt who plays ex-Navy SEAL turned Velociraptor expert/trainer Owen Grady. Unlike Jurassic Park, there’s a lot of fast moving parts in Jurassic World, so while the first film had memorable characters like Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, Ellie Sattler, John Hammond, Robert Muldoon, Lex, Tim, and even the vile Nedry, Jurassic World has a cast that we don’t get to know as well outside of the small core group. Let’s put it this way: if this were an original Star Trek episode, there’d be a lot of generic red shirts working at Jurassic World.
Grady could be seen as Grant, Malcolm and Muldoon all wrapped into one. He’s witty and charming, yet he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to these prehistoric beasts – especially the raptors. Pratt and Howard have solid chemistry for the dueling personality types they represent, and while Pratt does a good job of handling a majority of the film’s heavy lifting when it comes to action, Howard takes the brunt of the emotional side of things as her character begins to grow and rethink what’s really important over the course of the film. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Howard has a few kickass moments of her own, with one in particular that won’t soon be forgotten.
The younger side of the cast sees Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins playing the part of Claire’s nephews, Zach and Gray respectively. There’s a solid brotherly dynamic that the two share, which contrasts nicely to the Tim and Lex relationship of the first film. Zach is older with his focus more set on girls and getting ready to head off to college, whereas Gray is being left behind in a home that’s teetering on the edge of being broken.
While Simpkins (who held his own alongside Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3) and Robinson work well together and their relationship is believable, I think a little more time being spent with the two in the wild would have benefited their story (the same could be said for Claire and Owen’s relationship). That said, Jurassic World is also a lot faster paced than any of its predecessors. This time out they don’t try and build up the suspense for long, as once Indominus Rex gets loose, the film doesn’t let up. While the Jurassic World theme park doesn’t have a roller coaster, the film is definitely an emotional one, with tension filled scenes leading into heartbreaking moments, followed up quickly by quite a few adrenaline rushes that will keep the viewer on edge.
As far as memorable moments go, there are plenty to be had. There’s a kill scene that, in my mind, is right up there alongside the lawyer on the toilet from the original – only with a lot more intensity this time out. And Jurassic World also offers one of the more memorable climax scenes in recent blockbuster memory. When it happens you’ll know it, and it really doesn’t get much better than that.
There’s an overarching InGen military angle that goes on throughout the film, spearheaded by Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), which plants seeds for the all but inevitable sequel. While it’s not easy to play a villainous role in a film that has a genetically altered bloodthirsty dinosaur as its main antagonist, D’Onofrio holds his own quite well, which is proven in these movies by just how much the audience wants to see him get eaten.
As you’ve seen throughout this review, it’s hard to not compare Jurassic World to the film that started it all 22 years ago. The good thing is that it embraces the original with homages and little nods throughout. The score by Michael Giacchino is also superb, guiding viewers musically throughout the film, fully embracing the original John Williams theme, causing childhood memories to come flooding back, while also giving this film its own unique sound.
While not without its flaws, this Jurassic World is exactly what Jurassic Park fans have been waiting for. It’s an exhilarating, non-stop dino-thrill ride that I already can’t wait to climb aboard again.