Friday, 12 June 2015
Stop me if you've heard this one before: two children, young relatives of someone high up in the management of a dinosaur theme park, visit the park and embark on an awe-inspiring ride. Meanwhile, due to human stupidity, the biggest, scariest dinosaur escapes from its paddock, going on to terrorise the kids and others. The management enlists the help of a rugged dinosaur expert (an authority on velociraptors who's in the middle of assessing the park's ability to host dinosaurs) to rescue the children. There's a pause to acknowledge that these monsters are also living, breathing creatures when the two leads tend to a sick dinosaur. The children briefly take refuge in the visitor centre. One selfish character puts everyone in danger with his own personal agenda. It all builds to a thrilling finale, and in the end... well, you get the idea. Jurassic World doesn't just nod to Jurassic Park, it gets down on its knees and prostrates itself, then steals its shoes.
Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays corporate drone Claire Dearing, do adequate work with flat, lazily-drawn characters (Owen is cartoonishly macho and proactive, while Claire wears impractically high heels and a pristine white suit destined for punishment), but puny humans are rarely the stars of these movies. Jurassic World's monster roster is extensive, including, among others: a leviathanic Mosasaurus; a T-Rex-dwarfing man-made hybridino called Indominus Rex, and Dimorphodons, which look like Pteranodons with little T-Rex heads. Each performs a specific role in the set-pieces which, while lacking the Spielberg touch that made even The Lost World worth watching, are enormous fun, confidently directed and skilfully edited. And while actual gags are thin on the ground, comic relief is expertly delivered by New Girl's Jake Johnson in a role which requires the poor bugger to stay in the same chair for almost the whole film.
A remake in all but name, Jurassic World - like its two immediate predecessors - would be a tremendous and admirable achievement in blockbuster filmmaking if only Jurassic Park hadn't got there first. Rejecting Darwinism like a particularly obstinate creationist, the series' survival appears to depend on a stubborn refusal to evolve, locking itself instead in a loop of eternal unoriginality. But that isn't really good enough, and while this entry makes a cursory attempt at relevance with a smattering of self-referential commentary on audiences' indifference to spectacle and their desire for "more teeth", it fails to capitalise on that idea and soon slips back into the comfort of familiarity. It's fun while it lasts, but it might be time to close the park for good.