Well, he’s got all the money in the world, but there’s one thing
he can’t buy.
was the thinking in 1992, when in its third season; The Simpsons
aired the seminal episode Dog of Death. Dinosaurs were
impressive; the pinnacle of the natural world and history’s
combined spectacle, a money can’t buy thrill resigned to books, bones and
stop-motion recreation. Then, a year later, came Jurassic Park.
Steven Spielberg’s rousing adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel
remains one of the dream-maker's finest , but at the time it was
noted primarily as a groundbreaking technical achievement, presumed
to be the closest we’d come to ever seeing living, breathing
prehistoric specimens. Audiences packed theatres, box-office records
were shattered and as one of the cinema’s most iconic floating
banners correctly noted, dinosaurs again ruled the earth.
forward to a scene from the film’s third sequel Jurassic World.
Two brothers, one a precocious dino nut, the other a surly teen, are
granted a chance to see Tyrannosaurus Rex feed. In Jurassic Park,
the Rex’s bow was governed by suspense and raw anticipation, an
opportunity to see a photo-real super predator reward enough, never
mind that she might massacre braying, unaware livestock in the
process. Of course, the monster failed to roll up for
lunch then, leaving it with a nice hole to fill come dinner or decimation
of the park’s infrastructure, our appetites impossibly whetted as a consequence. In Jurassic
World, the T-rex does appear, eliminating a goat amid a
cavalcade of earth shattering roars. But we only glimpse the splattery fiesta. Instead
director Colin Trevorrow's camera sticks with the moody adolescent,
who receives a concerned call from Mom, turning away from the
reptilian centre-piece to engage in bored conversation. You see, in
2015, dinosaurs, much like CGI creations, aren’t cool or
remarkable. An unscheduled parental check-up is infinitely scarier.
this notion that fuels Jurassic World, which unfurls in a fully
operational embodiment of John Hammond’s dream , a functioning
zoological wonderland. With T-Rex and company beginning to
underwhelm, the corporate minds (depicted mainly by Bryce Dallas
Howard’s uptight Claire) have decided to bring genetic engineering
into the mix. Enter Indominus Rex, a lethal cocktail of Tyrannosaurus
and a bunch of other Mesozoic meanies. The I-Rex is bigger, smarter
and nastier than anything bred before it, so naturally escapes and
initiates a rampage that none of the island’s contingency mechanisms
are fit to halt. It’s a race against time to prevent the
prehistoric equivalent of Einstein, Dwayne Johnson and Genghis Khan
from reaching the park, where thousands of vulnerable tourists lie in
wait. At the forefront of team human are Claire and the Owen (Chris
Pratt playing a cuddlier, more GQ friendly version of the original’s
Robert Muldoon), who may or may not have been a thing once, but are
no longer, due to the moderately sexist implication that’s she’s
the stick-up her arse Sally to his free-spirited Fred. As the I-rex
cuts a swathe through people, foliage and other dinosaurs, drastic
measures have to be considered, including the implementation of a
secret military operation involving Owen’s squad of
may no longer amaze, but bonkers plotting always will.
World is incredibly imperfect but seductively brash. Character
arcs are soft, and occasionally preposterous. Various motivations are
cloaked in a malaise of silly rationale (both the I-Rex’s existence
and the initiative to use dinosaurs in war make no sense when
approached with any degree of real-world logic). But the film does
have ambition, and within the fabric of its own twisted, overblown
schemata the sequel even posits some intelligent commentary.
Culturally, Jurassic World is all about bigger not always
being better, a cutting comment on corporate mentality, that like The
Lego Movie, both has and ingests its cake. In harmony with the scaly antagonist, Jurassic World plays as both damning
critique and crass celebration of cinema by committee, a billion
dollar triumph of sensory overload designed to stun and sell, yet
seemingly aware of its own cold, calculated reason for being. To
quote another Spielbergian favourite, it’s either “very smart or
is built for fans, but trades on inside jokes instead of
fender-bending nostalgia. Jurassic aficionados will spot nods
to the original movies in every department, including but not limited
to Michael Giacchino’s sprightly score, subsidiary props and in one
particularly satisfying and late-coming case a substantive cameo from
the star attraction of 1993. It also makes the dinosaurs feel big
again, something that its predecessors (1997’s underrated The
Lost World and 2001’s perfunctory Jurassic Park 3)
struggled with. Trevorrow gets under his monsters, remembering to
embrace their scale, confident enough in his FX team to prefer
wide-shots over close-ups. The dinosaurs themselves, now almost
totally digital, are impressively designed, but feel regrettably
thinner than their 90s – animatronic - counterparts. Still, the
action is confidently handled and executed with the sort of visceral
impact which used to be reserved for proper PG-13 efforts. People
bleed and scream when they’re attacked by marauding nasties, and
the stomps bring with them a sense of genuine threat. There’s
little to rival the 1993 picture’s legend (the roadside slaughter
and raptors in the kitchen are insurmountable highlights), but a pair of grisly military skirmishes
and the bananas finale get closer than expected.
humans are less convincing, but the quality of performance keeps them
watchable. Pratt’s reigned in compared to last year’s Guardians
of the Galaxy and Bryce Dallas Howard doesn’t always skirt the
line between stereotype and sista cleanly, but they’re both likable
in their inherent being. Vincent d’Onofrio probably fares best as a
man of war seeking to train a raptor-driven anti-terror cell (a concept
flirted with rather than fully explore here, presumably fodder for
future installments), confidently hitting comedic and villainous beats
with strong force of personality. But this is still a dino's world,
even if they don’t awe like it’s 1993. Trevorrow and his team
have spared no expense, and just cause we've seen it all before,
doesn't mean we can't enjoy it again.
At one point, the I-Rex is valued at $26 million, so even taking into
account the inflation that’s occurred since 1992, Homer remains
correct in his assumption that Kent Brockman can’t buy a dinosaur.)
Daniel is a long-term cinephile, forming this blog back in 2009 as a way to crudely air his views on film and culture.
In the interim period he has written for a ton of great outlets, discovered the joys of radio broadcasting and in 2014 earned a BA in Film & Literature from the University of Warwick.
Dan is always happy to hear feedback, enter into discussion and maybe just maybe if you're a kind person looking for an artiste consumed by passion (and fits of masturbatory adverbial overuse), do some writing and collaborate with YOU!
Otherwise Dan likes to watch films and ruminate on the important things. He'll let you know when he works out if BBQ sauce actually tastes anything like BBQ in due course.
In the meantime find him @DKsMum on Twitter or e-mail him at email@example.com.