Admit it, when you read that a fourth Jurassic Park movie was heading your way quicker than a T-Rex with a point to prove you sighed, shrugged and went “yeah sure ok.” And remember that first teaser trailer? CGI that looked as rough as the storyboard for the effects on Plan 9 From Outer Space had the internet howling in predictable outrage. Never mind dinosaurs… this looked like a total turkey.
There was genuine cause for concern though. Even with the original 1993 classic being the movie that shaped the DNA of the modern blockbuster from that point onwards, its sequels – The Lost World and Jurassic Park III – left little to desired or remembered. Even with the original premise being totally insane, the idea of a T-Rex running amok in Downtown Anywhere, USA, as it did in The Lost World, was too much to handle. That’s even without watching William H. Macy blowing into a Raptor’s thorax or whateverthefuck actually happened in part three to escape certain doom when they should have been ripped to shreds to the delight of the audience.
Long story short, the series lost its way quickly and pathetically. It’s cool – and fun – to rag on the Hollywood Reboot Conveyor Belt but this was one franchise in desperate need of it. And yet the ultimate irony of Jurassic World is that it is so much more over the top, inherently stupid and videogame-esque that it 180s and works like an absolute charm.
We’re back in the Jurassic Park world (World world?) where nobody ever learns. Despite the horrors of the first film, a T Rex cleaving an entire city in half – a moment that would change the course of humanity forever in reality – and the… erm… stuff that happens in the third one, they still go ahead and build a massive theme park on pretty much the same island with the same fat, clueless security guards and… ah look you know what’s coming, right? We all came here for the inevitable breakouts and ensuing carnage. The fact that the movie wastes little time in getting to that part – sans the ‘kids away from home/out of depth financers/evil scientists’ huff and puff prior – is a welcome surprise.
Jurassic World – aside from the mad effects and souped-up dinos – can be construed as a comment on various human faculties and pitfalls. The ennui of the consumer demands that the money men and scientists of Jurassic World cook up the hybrid horror of the Indominus Rex – a neat merchand… sorry, a crafty creation – to give a spike to stuttering attendances and general disinterest in dinosaurs in their world. As the film tells you from the off, the kids aren’t interested in your average workaday dino. A stegosaurus is like an elephant to them. They need something bigger, scarier, more wicked and even hungrier. There’s the usual hints of “ohhhh but what if we were never meant to dabble and play God?” hand-wringing and the scenes that show distressed visitors bandaged, bleeding and packed into tight emergency confines forces you to ponder the question of just who are the real animals here?
And as touched upon earlier, it’s the film’s potential failings that tend to be its support struts. The wilfully crafted two-dimensional characters are the perfect backdrop to the carnage that kicks off and continues the movie. Chris Pratt’s Owen is an ex-Navy Seal and comes with all of the strong and silent but goddamn handy with a weapon nonsense that you’d expect. Bryce Dallas-Howard as Claire is the starch-collared, high-heeled, business-minded ice queen until it really matters and the two kids are annoyingly nasal but fuck it, you don’t mind their inevitable survival because it’s part and parcel of the experience.
Instead, you get what you want. Ultra-violence – and there is a fair amount in Jurassic World – raptors pacing about the place with reckless abandon, pteranodons dive-bombing and mauling people and – the piece du resistance – our pal and yours, old T Rexykins, making his long-awaited return like a punchdrunk prize fighter looking for one last prize purse in the squared circle. Oh, and motorbike chases, explosions, pithy one liners, battles of the sexes, high drama, clueless security guards and an InGen bad guy so cookie-cutter you could slam him in an oven and watch him come out golden brown and laden with sugar. Hey, what’s not to love?
The climax of Jurassic World finds one of the characters uttering the phrase ‘we need more teeth’. It’s a fitting masthead for the fourth entry of a seemingly extinct franchise that has been resurrected by carefully implanting new modes into the old DNA. It will take a critical battering, but for a film that has already chomped its way through domestic box office opening weekend records you can’t argue with throwing enough shit at the wall until it sticks. Minus a few points for a distinct lack of Jeff Goldblum though…