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Friday, 26 June 2015

Review: Jurassic World (2015)

I had been waiting many years for the release of the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise and finally the fourth installment has arrived. Here is a review of Jurassic World with a few Easter Eggs that you may or may not have noticed. A warning though: this review contains spoilers so please do not read unless if you have seen the film.


The plot to Jurassic World is that 22 years after the events of the first film a new company led by Simon Masrani (played by Irrfan Kahn) had managed to open a park to the public full of living, breathing dinosaurs. However as visitor levels drop the first genetically modified hybrid dinosaur called Indominus Rex is bred to draw in the crowds. Operations Manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) tries to get the raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to try and train the new hybrid. It escapes and the film kicks into gear. Despite the simplicity the plot is actually quite good. When the first trailers were shown depicting another dinosaur breakout it could have easily turned into a poor imitation of the first film. Jurassic World in this instance has managed to create a original plot that actually has good pacing. There are multiple times where the chaos of the Indominus Rex rampage is broken up by the sub-plot development as well as character development. Considering that this is an action movie it allows the audience to actually stand back and appreciate the action oriented parts. 

There is a sub-plot revolving around Vincent D'Onofrio's character who wishes to use Velociraptors and genetically modified hybrid dinosaurs to use in the military instead of drones. (Spoiler Alert) This sub-plot later turns out to be the drive behind the entire plot about the Indominus Rex. I have mixed opinions on this sub-plot. One part of me likes it for being a nice twist at the end by finding out that the dinosaur was bred for war and not public viewing as well as it showing the overall theme of the Jurassic Park franchise. That is humans always commercialize and abuse nature but in the end the unpredictability of nature causes humans to show that they've underestimated nature. Although at the same time it felt quite shoehorned in. Bar the end reveal scene it seemed that the screenwriters were divided about how much development this plot point should have received so they put it in but didn't want to overly focus on the idea. When D'Onofrio's character phones in his 'mercenaries' it felt underdeveloped and overall ruined the otherwise good pacing of the film.

Like with the plot the characters are a mixed bag but largely gives a good lasting impact. First off I was worried that Chris Pratt would either be a cut-out of Sam Niell in the first film and Bryce Dallas Howard a cut-out of Laura Dearn. When the first clip was released my fear then changed to Pratt being a cut-out of himself from Guardians of the Galaxy and that Howard would be the stereotypical workaholic manager who gradually learns to bond with their relatives. I was pleasantly surprised. Pratt managed to pull off a character who could be humorous and immature but at the same time he could be a serious character who could be angry at people for treating the dinosaurs as simply numbers on a spreadsheet or unthinking weapons. Similarly Howard managed to effectively portray a character who was actually caring for her relatives but whose busy life managing the most technologically advanced theme park full of dangerous dinosaurs meant that she had to put relations on hold. However I did find her initially too stereotypical by instantly dismissing her nephews and not knowing their ages; although this is more to do with the screenwriters than Howard's performance. Overall this was a setback in a good character and performance. D'Onofrio's character was surprisingly good with him not being an immediate military stereotype. Of course he sees the raptors as weapons and not intelligent. social animals but D'Onofio's acting (including the overall theme of humans underestimating nature) made this stereotype seem more realistic similar characters in other films.

I really enjoyed B.D. Wong returning with greater character development. It was nice to see him closer to his novel counterpart where he used science to justify the creation of the Indominus Rex. Irrfan Kahn was brilliant as Simon Masrani, the owner of the park, and it was it nice to see him as an environmentalist viewing animal welfare over profit instead of him being a greedy consumerist. However I wish I could give as much praise to the children actors. Considering they are child actors they did act well but the writing of the characters let them down. I felt that Nick Robinson's character was overtly aggressive and harsh and it made him unlikable. Ty Simpkins showed also good acting but his character was all over the place. At first he seemed to be a dinosaur nut like Tim in Jurassic Park and then he turned into the stereotypical child prodigy knowing everything about everything. It seemed that they didn't know what to do with him. However in the second half when all hell breaks lose the reaction between the two seemed heartfelt and genuine which partially made up for their poor characterizations to start with. 

I really like what they did with the dinosaurs in this film. At first I was very critical due to the obvious inaccuracies. For one Apatosaurus was portrayed with a curved and not straight neck, Stegosaurus dragging its tail across the ground and most importantly no dinosaurs were feathered. Recent evidence has shown that all or if not most dinosaurs had some form of feathers or bristles. Through all of this I feared that Jurassic World was not bothering to help change the public perception of dinosaurs which the other films had done. Then B.D.Wong's character explained that they had created dinosaurs to what the public views them as and not what they actually looked like (a possible reference to what he says in the novel along the same lines). This actually made the film more believable for me. The Velociraptors were just as good as ever. I really liked how they explored the social structure of the pack without removing the fierce aspects of the infamous species. The ending with the raptors really made me feel that they had tried to show that there was a strong bond between the raptors and Chris Pratt which made the ending even better. The Indominus Rex is just amazing. The blend of different creatures allowed it to seem somewhat believable and it truly felt foreboding. It seemed to be a cunning calculated predator and the design looked both realistic and unique. I liked how they introduced animals that lived at the time of the dinosaurs but weren't dinosaurs (the pterosaurs and mosasaurus) which shows how diverse that time was. However I thought they missed an opportunity. I was disappointed how they portrayed pterosaurs as aggressive flying monsters randomly attacking people instead of basically being prehistoric sea birds as they were in real life although this is nitpicking. I also felt that they still could introduce feathered dinosaurs in the form of showing dinosaurs that we know were feathered such as the tiny microraptor from Cretaceous China. Again this is nitpicking.

The effects were breathtaking. I am normally against films using high amounts of CGI but like Age of Ultron it complimented the film. Some of the shots which looked amazing (such as the end fight) could not have been achieved otherwise but the CGI looked good. With so many films they overuse CGI and it starts to look fake and dull but this was not the case for Jurassic World. This could be attributed to the fact that often they used people wearing special suits to fill in the dinosaurs. It helps get an actual feel of shadowing and environmental interaction which often cannot be achieved through simply a computer. It was also pleasant to see animatronics. They can only be seen briefly but they are used very effectively. One is with Chris Pratt interacting with a raptor and it makes it seem more personal adding to the connection they have onscreen. Another is with the dying Apatosaurus. The way the actors interact with it and the movement of the puppet made it seem alive so ever more sad in regards to its fate. Overall the effects are some of the best that I have seen in the last few years (the best with Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy and Winter Soldier).

Easter Eggs
Jurassic World contains many little tidbits which I thought enhanced the film by playing on our nostalgia. Although I criticized Age of Ultron for unsubtle product placement when I heard that they were making product placement unsubtle for a good reason it actually helped the film. It again links to the theme of commercialization perfectly emphasized by Jake Johnson's character saying that they have too many corporate sponsors for dinosaurs. There were also many references to previous films as well as the books. As stated earlier B.D.Wong paraphrases what his character says in the novel about how the dinosaurs in Jurassic World are catered to look what the public wants them to look like. Another reference to the novels is Johnson's character has a the novel's sequel The Lost World on his desk as well as a book by one of the characters in the franchise (Ian Malcolm). If you look carefully in the Innovation Center you can see Mr DNA from the first film. The characters also escape to the original Visitor Center and the jeep that the kids fix is the one that John Hammond sits in when they see the Brachiosaurus in the first film. There is a tribute to Richard Attenborough who played John Hammond as you can see a statue of him in the background and there is a restaurant called Winston's in honor of Stan Winston who made the dinosaur animatronics for the previous films (which serves Chilean Sea Bass). This and other Easter Eggs can be found on the website: A character mentions that there are 20 species at Jurassic World and 17 are stated on the website. A hologram and direct mention shows that Dilophosaurus (the spitter dinosaur) is the eighteenth and a passing comment from Bryce Dallas Howard implies the nineteenth is a relative of the Gallimimus called Archiornithomimus. That leaves one animal left (Indominus Rex was not announced to the public so wouldn't be included). There is a sly dig at Jurassic Park III as well. There is a Spinosaurus (the dinosaur from that film) skeleton in the Main Street which the T Rex smashes through. Speaking of T Rex at the end you can see some scars on the neck and stomach from an old fight. The fight was with Velociraptors from the first film...

In conclusion for fantastic special effects, good acting and good pacing but stereotypical characters, a shoe-horned in plot point and at times abysmal characterizations for the people who we are supposed to want to survive I give Jurassic World 7.6/10.

Thanks for reading and do you disagree with me? What are your views on Jurassic World? I'll be glad to read them. Also my story Senshijidaino will now be moved to the Prehistoric Kingdom forum under Fan Projects so I hope to see you either there or next Friday!

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