Jurassic World - Old Strengths are Modern Weaknesses; Reminiscing on Past Greats
Kevin Trovorrow makes his case as a relevant action director, showcasing his skills with a thrilling combination of horror and spectacle. He calls back to two of the greats before him, but fills Jurassic World with characters so thin they spend much of their time quipping at one another's expense.
The core group of main characters really do feel like an odd band pulled straight from Steven Spielberg's own mind. But that only extends as far as the surface, and that's because there's little more below that to make these people compelling.
Chris Pratt is charismatic, though a little outdated, as Navy veteran Owen Grady. He is the essence of all likable characters, which hinders his likability. His resolute feelings toward the dinosaurs builds enough emotional investment for the climax to avoid falling short, but much of his time on the screen is there to prove to us how much smarter he is than everybody else (which is semi-successful). His relationship with the three dinosaurs gives one of them its very own arc, and gives the film a kind of Planet of the Apes feeling.
The imagery and camera-use make for a compelling action flick, but some alarming scenes make this at times a weird horror/adventure hybrid. The fact is, it mostly works. But seeing a character suffer a horrific death is shocking in a much less satisfying way than a committed horror film might make it.
The dialogue is witty and sharp, smartly circling around but never delving into melodrama. The meanings behind the things being said, however, are trite and worn out ideologies. It continues to reintegrate Jurassic Park's premise, led by man's incessant need to continue raising the stakes. Though as with all modern sequels it makes the stage bigger. Heck, it makes the monster bigger. When all else fails, that's apparently the way to go. The big fish eating the little fish is essentially an analogy for the state of modern cinema.
Claire , played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is often frustrating to watch. She's a strong woman written like a clueless one, albeit one that receives a much needed transformation by the end. Her arc is arguably the emotional centre, which is saying a lot. Her achieving that growth and repairing certain relationships makes for a satisfying close of events, though her feelings toward Owen feel remarkably sudden. Apparently, you just need to be a 'badass' to get the girl. Feeding every insecure teenage boy's self esteem issues everywhere.
The antagonist, Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), is set up early on, during our first meeting with Owen. And he's crafted with no subtlety at all. He almost wholly represents the film's weak character list, making him a war-driven business man with the cocky air of quasi-superiority. This kind of villain worked in the past, but needs to be handled more deftly in an ever growing industry.
Crafting stunning scenes is Trevorrow's trump card. Two sequences stand out, matching the grandeur of Spielberg's vision and also conjuring memories of Hitchcock's The Birds. A scene in which a team of soldiers take off on an ill-fated mission to take down the dinosaur is an almost direct reference to James Cameron's Aliens, though again feels somewhat out of place in this film. Pitting militant beliefs against the need for nurture of these animals is a common angle that the film makes the most of, though these messages are far less integral to the fun being had.
The plot transitions from one scene to the next smoothly. The soundtrack conjures up that same euphoric, fantastical feeling many fans will recall from Jurassic Park. The wit is strong but the script is arguably weak. The two brothers, Gray and Zach Mitchell (Ty Simpkons and Nick Robinson, respectively), who play the eyes of the audience on the trip to Jurassic World, are hit and miss. They provide some enjoyable scenes together, though again they're crafted with such conservative penmanship that even any character development feels like an 'easy way out' route.
Jurassic World is a vivid and fulfilling action flick, but it feels too reliant on a host of blockbusters from the past in order for it to feel like an event of its own. Sometimes originality isn't necessity, and this dino-romp perfectly captures the essence of any great popcorn film. But it's little more than a gorgeous spectacle.