I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
When it comes to franchises like Jurassic Park, reviews are pretty much unnecessary. That’s the level of power Universal have with these movies. All they had to do was say, “We have a new movie called Jurassic World and…”, and by the time they finish the sentence they already have your money and you’re watching. Dinosaurs will never, ever not be cool.
This fourth iteration in the saga is set around 20 years after the first film. The theme park is now open. Bad stuff happens. You know the drill.
To give this review context, I’ll give you my quick opinions on what my blu-ray boxset calls the “Ultimate Trilogy” of the first three movies.
Jurassic Park (1993) – VFX that still hold up surprisingly well 22 years on. Classic Spielberg suspense, wonder and whimsy. A lesser version of Jaws, but on land!
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) – The message of “Life finds a way” is crammed down your throat by characters we are supposed to like but ultimately despise. Some cool scenes.
Jurassic Park 3 (2001) – A completely unnecessary and stupid movie that I love to bits out of blind nostalgia.
When I saw trailers of Jurassic World I was completely baffled by the in-movie plan to open the park after THREE movies told us that dinosaurs and people don’t mix. But then I took a step back and had a re-think about those movies and what ties them together.
What ties them together is silliness. The science behind bringing dinos back from 65 million years of fossilisation is unfounded and silly. Opening a theme park to display those monsters is even sillier (made worse when they try to do it in San Diego in the second one). Letting your kid go with your idiotic husband parachuting over the cliffs of the island where those dinos are held is tantamount to manslaughter!
However, this silliness has been shown to be successful and unsuccessful in those movies, so that on its own shouldn’t kill the fourth outing. Besides, this film series has already stooped pretty low so this movie cannot be accused of soiling the good name of the Jurassic period.
Now on with my thoughts on 2015’s interpretation of what would happen if Dinosaurs came back today.
Let’s start with what I didn’t like. Namely, the writing.
The relationships between the characters here, I just didn’t get into. Major and minor details that were meant to add depth serve simply to make me look at my watch. And I know you need to build characters so you care about them when the danger comes and so that danger becomes more tense and exciting (what I call the rule of Jaws). Unfortunately it wasn’t done that well here.
In the first movie, the bad guys were clearly marked. Here, I feel like pretty much every one of these people are idiots, drilling plot-hole after plot-hole into the script. While not as bad as Chappie, it did bring me out of the moment a couple of times.
Much criticism has been made of this film’s overuse of CGI and the lack of grit in the realism. While it is true that there are some scenes that have not so great effects and I feel like a couple more animatronic animals would have worked to the film’s favour, I will give the animators that there were a few scenes with near perfect use of their computers.
That brings me onto the good stuff. First of all, while I say that the dialogue is often clunky, there are some incredibly good lines and one hilarious character, Lenny. I want this guy to have his own spin-off movie! Make it happen Hollywood!
The writing also comes into it’s own when it becomes self-aware. There are times when I feel like the writers knew that this whole scenario is ridiculous and that the twists have the complexity of an old cartoon and so when a cheesy line is said, I can’t help but smile. They know that all they’re doing is trying to one-up the first movie in terms of getting new types of creature and so they attempt to pull off a balance between winking at the camera and keeping the seriousness in the characters’ predicaments.
The park itself is very creative. It felt close enough to the real world and yet was fantastical enough to make a connection to the main attraction that is the dinosaurs. And the film makes an excellent point about the fact that we do tire easily of seeing the same sort of stuff again and again.
So what is my opinion of those dinosaurs? Well there’s an overused phrase I just have to utilise now. They are jaw-dropping!
I mean it, my inner child made me forget all the asinine characters in the third act and made me appreciate just how fun these creatures are. Even when there’s something that doesn’t make sense by the warped logic of the universe, I don’t care as long as it looks cool.
I wish I was less reserved in cinemas, because there were moments when I honestly wanted to whoop with excitement and what was in front of me, occasional CGI glitches and all.
If you believe that these terror lizards weren’t enough to keep you hooked, I understand. But for me, I think this was well worth seeing just for those moments.
What’s odd is that I came out of the cinema beaming in memory of what I just saw and yet through most of this review I’ve been pretty much nit-picking at elements that when the whole thing came together, I didn’t care about. I suppose that sums up the weird mix that is Jurassic World. While failing in a number of areas that, if I was watching say, Transformers, would ruin the film for me, the filmmakers somehow keep it together to make something badass.
All in all, the lack of really scary moments and that many likable characters makes me place this below Jurassic Park, but I can safely say that this is the strongest sequel that it’s had so far.
In a word, DINOSAURS!
Recommended Scenario: Dinosaurs. There, you’ve already booked tickets.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.