June 11, 2015

CINEMA | 'Jurassic World' Reopens the Park

"No one's impressed by a dinosaur anymore."
Chris Pratt Bryce Dallas Howard | Jurassic World

Co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow takes over the Jurassic Park franchise from executive producer and original director Steven Spielberg to recreate enough of the same wondrous vision of dinosaurs twenty years later in Jurassic World. It's a slight return to form for the doomed theme park and its new set of inhabitants with a slimmed down sense of discovery and scale but plenty of enjoyable action.

Marketing would have you believe Chris Pratt stars as our hero, but it's really Bryce Dallas Howard's film with much of the narrative revolving around her less than developed park manager character and troublesome nephews (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins). Pratt is suitably heroic as a velociraptor trainer leading the charge and protecting others. However, he's also severely underwritten and has much of his natural charisma muted as Jake Johnson seems to be aping his usual role as the comic relief and only really standout character.

The film's script from Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver is relatively minor and lightweight in every way but also heavy on the self-mocking consumerist commentarythe film itself a product of corporate/commercial excess just like its manufactured dinosaur villainas the actors and direction take over and power through. There's little to no consistency as characters act, move, and change as they're need to from scene to scene. That said, individual scenes mostly work as the design and special effects are superb, being elevated by John William's famous theme, reworked by composer Michael Giacchino, played over beautiful, dinosaur filled landscapes.

Jake Johnson | Jurassic World

In a world where dinosaurs have killed and destroyed on a regular basis, it's impossible to reconcile the believability of the park reopening, much less thriving as a popular tourist attraction with the events of The Lost World and Jurassic Park III being entirely ignored. As the dangers of breeding and housing dinosaurs as attractions finally presents itself (again), the human plan to combat the big bad dinosaur is beyond illogical, if still fairly amusing, just as the big evil plot reveal is also fairly ludicrous.

Every character aside from maybe Pratt's Owen and B.D. Wong's returning yet very mysterious Dr. Wu consistently prove themselves to be unbelievably stupid. Furthermore, the villainy beyond the park's troubles is fairly inconsequential to its momentum and never quite clear. Irrfan Khan's eccentric CEO character is full of bravado and promise before he's completely wasted. It's remarkable how baffling all these character and story elements are on the whole even as the film is fairly skillful in satiating our expectations for crowd-pleasing spectacle.

Trevorrow is capable in only his second directorial feature and first big blockbuster effort as he brings back enough of Jurassic Park's sense of wonder and fun. If not for the weak script and problematic characters, Jurassic World is fairly game and up to the challenge, but kind of only proves how inherently dumb the very concept of any Jurassic sequel, much less the third one, really is. At best, it functions as light often violently over the top entertainment. It never breaks free of the logical problems presented by its preceding films, especially the first, where lapses in logic and obvious dangers must constantly be repeated and overcome.

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