Jurassic World (2015) Directed by Colin Trevorrow. With Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins and Irfan Khan.
Writer-director Colin Trevorrow graduates from the indie circuit to the summer blockbuster big leagues with Jurassic World, a $150m continuation of the film series kick-started by Steven Spielberg in 1993. It isn’t just dinosaur DNA that’s being experimented with, it’s Spielberg’s DNA too, as Trevorrow hands in a highly competent, if largely shallow slice of mainstream cinema.
In the years that have passed since Jurassic Park III, it seems that no lessons have been learned. The collision course of progress and greed, lead to yet another theme park – much safer (yeah right) than before, with its state of the art security systems that allow the general public to come face-to-face with prehistoric terror. Nothing bad could come from that, could it??
In the way that it ticks boxes, the script has the feel of something written by committee (there are four writers). Everything you’d expect to happen, happens, and not much else. As the leading man of the piece, Chris Pratt looks and sounds like he’s in a young(ish) Indiana Jones audition. Of course, we know that he cuts a likeable lead, but even with his amiable approach, he’s adrift in a script that, apart from offering him wisecracks, is bereft of characters that don’t feel like bare templates.
As has been the case in all of the Jurassic Park films, the female presence smacks as token, at best. As the general manager of the park, Bryce Dallas Howard walks an unfortunate path of being borderline irritating and forgettable, juggling her responsibilities of running Jurassic World and looking after her floppy mopped nephews.
Like most blockbusters, there’s a plus-serving of product placement. It’s interesting that in one moment, a character makes a dig at the titular theme park for its corporate agenda – “Why don’t you just let [the corporations] name the dinosaurs? Pepsisaurus. Tostitodone”. It’s unclear whether this is a piece of self-aware humour, or just another smart-arse way to shoehorn in more advertising. But then, you could argue that there is a satire about the nature of the corporate world going on here; no matter how great the danger is to human beings, no matter how wonky the morals – huge companies will seek to exploit a situation that offers the opportunity to further the brand. It’s saying – “This is the apocalypse, brought to you by Starbucks”.
In fairness to it, Jurassic World does well as a piece of throwaway popcorn fodder. There’s the warmth of nostalgia in hearing the musical score, propped up by a sense of theatre with the dinosaurs and the action, that make sections of it feel like being on a theme park ride. It’s just a shame that there isn’t more depth to compliment the spectacle. 3.5/5