'Jurassic World' is a Fairly Strong and Stimulating Effort but Lacks That Fierce Bite
Back in 1993, I remember leaving the theatre in complete awe and excitement having just watched Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking Jurassic Park. Even at the youthful age of 8-years-old, I was blown away by the spectacular special effects and craftsmanship of such a monumental piece of filmmaking that only someone of Spielberg's skill could pull off. And, having re-watched Jurassic Park numerous times since that day, it hasn't lost a single touch of its magic.
The park is open
It shattered box office records and raised the bar in blockbuster moviemaking. After two lacklustre sequels, Universal attempt to reinvigorate this franchise by leaving no expense spared in this bigger, faster and more expensive fourth edition. When Jurassic World was announced it was considered by many to be an exercise in drawing stacks of money and attempting to reclaim its place atop the movie franchise mountain. It's guaranteed to achieve such targets, but as a bonus, it's worthy of our time and money, given that it’s a marked return to form. However, placing my nostalgic sentiments aside, Jurassic World doesn't totally live up to its billing, nor does it surpass the originals high standards.
Colin Treverow’s take doesn't waste anytime taking us straight into the thick of Jurassic World. We get a taste of what we have in store: spectacular sweeping shots of the theme park that Richard Attenborough’s character John Hammond dreamt about in the original. It's a thriving business with thousands of visitors taking in the parks attractions. However, business is flailing, and customers are bored with the typical, run of the mill dinosaurs. In all honesty, how can anyone tire of being eye-to-eye with a living, breathing dinosaur? Nonetheless, our heroes of the film scoff at the thought that visitors are tired of seeing these impressive creatures and begin to set in place ways to claim their visitors back.
This leads to Owen (Chris Pratt), Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), and the other scientists who work at the park, to genetically engineer a new breed of dinosaur after years of studying genetics with the hope to re-sparking visitors interests. As you’d expect, they take their ambitions too far and this regenerating takes a drastic turn for the worst.
Doesnt leave same mark of wonderment
Jurassic World is the only movie in the series that doesn't feature any cast member from Jurassic Park. Jeff Goldblum reprised his role in Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997), and Sam Neill returned for the third Jurassic Park film in 2001. However, Jurassic World doesn't suffer too much from this lack of familiarity. Chris Pratt is more than assured in his role, being the only real bright spark in this new cast. Although Bryce Dallas Howard doesn't do anything terrible, she doesn't do anything inspiring either. It's a fairly understated performance, but she does enough within context.
Spielberg’s original film was a revolutionary display for a new age of digital effects, yet, he never overkilled its use. Spielberg used them sparingly alongside animatronics, which in turn, allows Jurassic Park to still feel fresh and as groundbreaking today as it did 22-years ago. Fast forward to Jurassic World, and the approach is much different. Most of the dinosaurs on display of predominantly computer generated with only a few animatronics. It's these computer creations and their animation that hold this picture back from forging its own vivid take on the subject matter. In moments they're wildly inconsistent, with some of the CGI — such as the raptor scenes and various flying dinosaurs — so detailed and convincing, you wonder just how much material on the screen is physical (or animatronic), leading to jarring contrasts with other dinosaurs we've seen beforehand that weren't computer made. I'm all for special effects being used to heighten our experience, and to achieve the unachievable in visual aesthetics, but consistency and authenticity is a key factor if they're to be successful in their demeanour. And, if Jurassic Park twenty-two years ago managed to create an authentic vision without leaning too heavily on the computer, it's a shame Jurassic World felt the need to completely rely on the generated image.
For all its visuals, Jurassic World is a fairly strong and stimulating effort in terms of getting this franchise back on track, but lacks that fierce bite. It gives you enough helpings of dinosaur damage and the occasional park visitor killing to keep you satisfied. It certainly surpasses the previous two sequels, and manages to capture that jaw-dropping splendour we wanted and expected. On the other hand, Jurassic World doesn't leave the same mark of wonderment that Spielberg’s 93 masterpiece did. It was always going to be a tough (if not, impossible) task for Universal and Treverow to pull off, but they manage to whet our appetites again, and reclaim our respect for this once fallen franchise.