The movie opens with a fully functioning park. John Hammond’s vision has been realized and Jurassic World has been open to the public for ten years now. However, dinosaurs have become a tired prospect for consumers who have frequented the attraction and the board relies on sponsorship and invention to reinvigorate the spectacle. The team of scientists responsible for creating the prehistoric animals, headed up by the first movies Dr Henry Wu, make a completely unique creature – bigger, meaner and more ferocious – in order to attract visitors from across the world. Things start to go horribly, horribly wrong as the Indominus Rex reaches maturity and decides she will no longer be contained, engaging in a horrific killing spree across Isla Nublar, causing all manner of chaos in her wake.
What is initially apparent from Colin Trevorrow’s sequel is the level of ambition which I believe mirrors Jurassic Park in scale and scope. What may be considered quite a hefty premise to swallow, the justification and development of the plot completely convinces that this entry is as valid as the two previous sequels, if not more so. It’s the next logical step in the story and, pivotally, the treatment of the dinosaurs as animals that have their own individual personalities and characters rather than monsters or villains is crucial in selling Jurassic World.
We get to the park pretty early on and events unfold at a startling rate but this is not at the expense of some worthy plot development and characterization. I can’t stress enough how much the park feels like a fully functioning theme park which could genuinely exist in the real world, from the sponsorship of rides or arenas to the Pandora store on the concourse; it’s all completely authentic. As well as that is a reverence for the beloved first movie from Trevorrow and this echoes throughout the movie – from the bronze statue of John Hammond in the Visitors Centre to the revisiting of old, abandoned locations – but done in a subtle way that is refreshing in an era of revamps and re-imaginations which are all too keen to self-reference with a sledgehammer.
The cast bring it home too. Chris Pratt is truly excellent in his role as Owen but far removed from his comedy roles previous. He does have a few cool one-liners but Pratt plays an everyman in the mould of Indiana Jones or John Maclane with relish and it really suits him. Bryce Dallas Howard is also utterly convincing as Claire; a slave to the Masarani corporation who has lost touch with her humanity but ultimately redeems herself by the finale. This really is her movie and it’s interesting to see how her focus twists and shifts as it progresses.
The real crowning glory of Jurassic World is how cleverly Trevorrow ramps up the tension. From the initial reveal of the Indominus Rex and her escape (a moment which made me gasp with horror as she burst from her paddock and I found more shocking than the tease of the T-Rex holding the electric fence in Jurassic Park), her continued machinations across the park and the climactic battle that spoke to monster movie fans the world over; Jurassic World has scares and shocks aplenty. Similarly to its forebear, Jurassic World has its cake and eats it. Trevorrow manages to sell you on a world accustomed to (and bored with!) dinosaurs, genetic modification and trained velociraptors but never seems to stretch into territory which leaves you in disbelief. It also subtly comments on the ever increasing demand as consumers for the next thrill and what lengths we’ll go to achieve it.
While it’s not without its flaws, Jurassic World reinvigorates the franchise to a whole new level. It made me feel like a kid again – ironic considering one of its core messages is the loss of wonder in a movie which is packed full of it.
(YouTube clip courtesy of Universal Pictures UK)