********* 7 out of 10 *********
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Actors: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan
When Steven Spielberg decided to turn Michael Crichton’s novel into a full-length feature film and bring back to life creatures extinct for millions of years, I wonder how much of the ensuing popularity and fandom he could have gauged. Whether he could have foreseen it or not, Spielberg did in fact create one of the biggest movies of Hollywood, not only in terms of its box-office performance but also the impact it has had on global pop culture. Jurassic Park, ever since its release in June 1993, has never lost it charm, its fan following, its ability to thrill, and its position as one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever. The Lost World: Jurassic Park followed four years later, before Spielberg stepped away from the director’s chair and allowed the series to continue with Jurassic Park III in 2001. For some reason or the other, a fourth movie never saw the light of the day, and slowly time ticked away. Fourteen years since the last sequel, and twenty-two years since the original looks to be a good enough time to reboot the series, where you can bring back the old generation for a bit of nostalgia, and target the newer generation with an old tested idea. That is what Jurassic World has attempted to do. And this vision has worked successfully. Jurassic World is a ‘monster’ film for most parts of it, filled with amazing visual effects and intensity and drama to keep you hooked; along the way, it pays a lot of tribute to the original, acknowledging that it cannot triumph Spielberg’s version but is still a worthy successor.
Events in Jurassic World occur twenty-two years after the original film, with a fully operational theme park in place. John Hammond’s legacy has been passed on to Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), who has Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) looking after the day-to-day management at the park. To attract new visitors, the scientists at Jurassic World have been working on a genetically modified dinosaur called Indominus rex which they plan to showcase to the audience soon. But when the Indominus rex escapes from its enclosure, chaos is unleashed as the management of the park work frantically to bring the dinosaur under control, with the help of a trainer at the park, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). To make things worse for Claire, her nephews are lost somewhere inside the park. A gigantic dinosaur on the loose cannot be a good thing, right?
We get to see the dinosaur theme park fully operational for the first time in this series in Jurassic World, and that itself is a big attraction to enter the theatre. In a way, we get to see what Jurassic Park was meant to be! The story by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (husband-wife duo) integrates elements from the first Jurassic Park movie, where the whole idea of messing around with nature and bringing back to life what was meant to be extinct is explored, along with a more traditional ‘monster’ movie theme with a huge animal on the loose. The film is more of the latter kind, to be honest; it does not have the depth and the intelligence which made Jurassic Park a classic. But then again, watching people chase something huge and ferocious can be fun too, right?
Director Colin Trevorrow has not gambled too much with Jurassic World by attempting a Spielberg-like movie. So there are hardly any fantastic memorable lines, or any great movie characters like the original three doctors we adore so much. But Jurassic World has an incredible and jaw-dropping dinosaur at its epicentre, much in the same way that a Godzilla film is all about the creature. Trevorrow has given his movie’s antagonist – this mighty dinosaur – big jaws, sharp teeth and massive muscular strength, and then made him smarter than average creatures to make him all the more impressive, and scary. Trevorrow has made every scene involving this dinosaur count; he has made its kills give us goosebumps in the way Spielberg’s Jurassic Park did; he has made the dinosaur’s presence felt even when it ain’t on screen. And this is how Trevorrow manages to achieve what he meant to, which is to make us feel part of that theme park, jittery and worried about the dinosaur waiting round the corner, tensed and thrilled about the adventure we have embarked on, and in some moments, simply in awe of the scale at which events are happening. The writers and director have paid homage to the original movie more than once, adding to the nostalgic feel. I loved the part when one of the characters calls the original Jurassic Park (not the movie, but the theme park) to be ‘legit’, for it did not need to create hybrids to attract the crowd; in a way, Trevorrow is saying the same thing about the series, calling Jurassic Park the ‘legit’ film which stands on a separate pedestal. The moment when you would really want to hug Trevorrow though is when you will catch the first glimpse of the T-Rex from Jurassic Park in Jurassic World. It is something!
The movie’s characters are pretty straight-forward in terms of how they have been sketched out. There are no witty, smart, interesting personalities like those of Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler and Dr. Malcolm. Bryce Dallas Howard does bring in a bit of variation, playing a more rigid corporate person in the initial parts of the movie before having to turn into a survivor, who has to keep her wits intact to protect herself and her nephews. Chris Pratt has a serious look here, playing someone aware of the dangers of the theme park and not willing to mess around with nature. He has a good screen presence, though his character should have been much more than the typical ‘guy who saves the day’. The ones who do spice things up a bit when the dinosaurs aren’t around are Irrfan Khan as the rich bloke who has taken the ownership of the park from John Hammond (played by the late Richard Attenborough in previous movies), and Jake Johnson as the techie at the park who brings in some humour along with interesting perspective on things at the park. The young kids, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, who are brothers in the movie, recreate the sibling magic of Jurassic Park. Vincent D’Onofrio plays an opportunistic fellow with an ulterior motive, and well, his character is as one-dimensional as one can get. BD Wong returns as the scientist, Dr. Henry Wu, adding again to a bit of sentimentality in this movie.
Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World is a high intensity, fast paced, fun filled sci-fi movie that Hollywood is well-known for. But you can set out with the right idea, and still mess it up somewhere along the way. Trevorrow does not. He knows what he wants to bring to the big screen, he keeps his hybrid dinosaur at the centre of it, and he does not go into territories that he would not be able to handle. He pays tribute to Jurassic Park, but Jurassic World has now steered away from Spielberg’s era, and with his own version, Colin Trevorrow has imprinted his mark on this epic franchise!