Film Review: Jurassic World – Cash-in cheese or killer reboot?

After years of rumours, myths and worldwide worries it’d suck worse than the dreaded Jurassic Park III, everyone’s favourite dinosaur franchise roared its way back into cinemas last week. The film smashed opening weekend world records, and has already grossed presumably more than enough money to fund the research and development of a real living dinosaur park in Costa Rica. However, despite what you might be thinking, and what palaeontologists might be moaning about, the movie isn’t just 2 hours of cheesy cash-in trash. Well, at least not entirely…

You all know the plot basics: 22 years after the events of the Steven Spielberg original, Jurassic Park, two kids visit fully-(mal)functioning new Dino-Disneyland, Jurassic World, to visit their workaholic Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and pet some herbivores. Naturally, Howard’s snooty Aunt Claire is too busy trying to keep tourism afloat by building a mysterious, genetically-modified super-dino to spend time with the nippers. Even more naturally, the pesky little rascals quickly get bored of petting herbivores and go AWOL, the super-dino goes AWOL, and gruff, instinctive raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) has to change his shirt, whip out some cheek and save the day.

The set-up admittedly lacks the sense of wonder captured in the original. But when our 1D characters first step into the park’s 3D, CG world, there’s a real nostalgic joy in seeing the park itself in action; especially when John Williams’ original score starts teasing its way down your ear canal.

There’s even more fun to be had in the gags about Sea World, consumer excess and the intriguing parallels the film raises between the operations of the park and the workings of the film and entertainment industry. Or in just having a tongue in cheek game of “spot the product placement” (Which is James Bond-level easy). However, it’s when Pratt’s Owen Grady is introduced that things really start to get interesting.

Sea World's new Shamu-osaurus

Sea World’s new Shamu-osaurus

The Jurassic Park films are at their best when they stick to what they’re good at: Letting rabid dinosaurs on the loose, ready to wreak havoc. And with Jurassic World, it really is all “Bigger, louder and more teeth.”

Swooping cinematography sucks the awe out of many of the large-scale effects sequences, but the film is familiarly inventive in its set pieces and director Colin Trevorrow handles his suspense properly; by playing with plot ideas and rationing mega-moments – the latter of which is seldom seen in the age of the epic battle blockbuster.

The film’s CGI is a marmite matter; but let’s face it, in the modern age, Jurassic World wasn’t ever going to achieve the awe-inspiring impact of the original, and we shouldn’t expect it to, either. The Pterosaur attack scene, for example, looks more Birdemic than The Birds, but that’s not to say that the effects work here is low quality; it’s merely that the lack of restraint, real sets and the ‘anything-goes’ mentality in modern CG film favours “WOAH-did-you-see-that?!” over “WOAH-it-looks-so-real”. This means that spatial hiccups and questionable physics should be expected and accepted, right? After all, this is ultimately an entertainment film. And if you and your kids are seeking thrills, spills, popcorn and nostalgia, Jurassic World shouldn’t leave you disappointed.

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