A bad egg.
Jurassic World is the fourth film in the Jurassic series, this time directed by Colin Trevorrow. After around ten years of writing, rewriting and producing, it was finally released back in June, nearly fifteen years after the release of the franchise’s third instalment.
This movie fast-forwards twenty-two years from the original Jurassic Park, seeing a return to the same island (Isla Nublar) where dinosaurs once wreaked havoc. This time though, the fully operational Jurassic World – a theme park boasting real living dinosaurs – is actually up and running. But when the pride of the park, the Indominus Rex – a brand new genetically ‘enhanced’ species of its ow – escapes, all hell breaks loose and it becomes the job of ex-Navy raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) and corporate businesswoman Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) to hunt it down.
Compared to the previous Jurassic films – featuring female characters as strong and well-rounded as the male ones – Jurassic World seems to have taken a step backwards. The relationship between Owen and Claire is disturbing. There are points in the film when you’d half expect Owen to pick Claire up and shake her for being so hysterical. When it comes to the action, Claire is weak and often needs Owen to take care of her. Whenever Claire is involved at all, she is always running in heels looking very pretty, and when the dinosaurs themselves are actually being chased down, Claire is left behind in a car to look after the kids (of course) while Owen and all the butch men go out to the front line. The original film on the other hand displays all the characters – male and female – as being equally terrified of the situation.
Claire is a stereotypical ‘career woman’, and there is little to her character beyond that. She is shown as cold, unfeeling and driven only by profit. Throughout the film, the idea of motherhood is toyed with; Claire seems to start longing for a family. By the end of the film, Claire comes to her senses – she takes her career less seriously, falls for a man and finds her maternal instinct – how could she have been so silly? Her portrayal seems to imply that people who don’t have traditional family values must be cold and detached in other aspects of their lives. Owen on the other hand, is an action movie stereotype. He has an army background, is a little aloof and sexist but a ‘nice-guy’ deep down.
Most of the other characters also show an astonishing lack of depth and originality. There are a pair of brothers trapped in the perimeter fence who are closely followed during the film – an older run-of-the-mill sulky teenager, and a younger geeky boy with extensive dinosaur knowledge. The latter is an unapologetic copy of Tim from the original but an awful lot less cute and endearing. This dichotomy demonstrates that the only interesting characters are those copied from previous editions of the franchise. The CEO of Jurassic World – a reckless and charming eccentric – is exactly the same as John Hammond except Indian (you hoped changing his ethnicity would stop people noticing, didn’t you?). Beyond this, there are few other characters with discernable personalities worth noting – those that remain function merely as cogs required to push the story forward.
The action in the film is a strange mismatch of the previous three films with nothing executed quite as smoothly as it was originally. The classic T-Rex ripping up the car scene of the original? Just replace the car with a gyroscopic ball and put weaker actors inside it. A stegosaurus stabbing at a hollow log with the lead character inside? Replace stegosaurus with velociraptor and the lead with a character whose name we don’t even know and couldn’t care less about. Countless other visuals and concepts are copied almost exactly from other films and glued together to create an ugly mess. The rest of the action is hardly authentic either – just more big guns and big explosions.
The Jurassic franchise is based on a series of science-fiction books, so some scientific inaccuracies can arguably be forgiven. However, the way the dinosaurs behave seems unbelievable to common sense as well as science. In reality, resurrected dinosaurs would likely be untamed animals that don’t belong here. The original film captures this perfectly, but also subtly leaves the question open as to whether the dinosaurs are getting to grips with understanding their creators. For example, the dinosaurs end up killing mainly the greedy characters who want to exploit them – often in embarrassing or humiliating ways. Jurassic World doesn’t do subtlety, conveniently dividing the characters – including the dinosaurs – into goodies and baddies, each with their own respective loyalties. Dinosaurs belonging to different species work together as if they were a homogenous group. This is not only scientifically inaccurate, but just looks silly.
What good can be said of Jurassic World then? Aside from the childish script and poor characterisation, it is still quite an entertaining film. Although it tails off towards the end, the plot is engaging and intriguing. Visually, the film is stunning (although CGI in favour of animatronics makes some shots look less real). The cinematography is often used to great effect: there is a particularly moving shot of a landscape full of dead dinosaurs which brutally shows the reality of the situation. And despite the recycling, there are a few cool original ideas such as training the raptors much like dolphins are trained in SeaWorld. The whole concept of the theme park also adds a new dimension to the film, exploring our treatment of animals and false assumption to be the dominant species. So there is some interesting philosophical intrigue into how blind science and a desire for profit can have unfortunate results – although this too is borrowed from the book/earlier films.
Overall though, like its main villain the Indominus Rex, this film was copied, and has been over-engineered to look cooler and appeal to the demands of the consumer. It was never going to be a good egg.
Jurassic World (2015), directed by Colin Trevorrow, is released on DVD and Blu-ray disc in the UK by Universal Pictures UK. Certificate 12.