In 1993 I sat in a cinema awed, enthralled, sometimes terrified and above all amazed by Steve Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Now, heading for 23 years later, I headed back into that universe (of course including two other sequels in between) for Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World.
Very much using a similar formula as a predecessors in terms of plot – a pair of kids go to the park, all hell breaks loose, there’s a romance of a sort between the two adult leads and, keeping the Spielbergian element, there’s talk (albeit brief) of divorce – this is pretty much everything you’d expect if someone told you a new Jurassic Park was being made in an era that has since seen the rise of Michael Bay.
That isn’t to say it’s as bad as Bay’s recent oeuvre, far from it in fact, for a start you can tell what’s happening throughout all the action scenes, and that is where the film is at its best. With that in mind the most famous shot from the movie (that also adorns the Blu-Ray case) is of dinosaur-tamer Owen Grady (the charismatic Chris Pratt) astride a motorbike, flanked by a quartet of velociraptors, the originals cunning, clever, under-the-radar big bads.
This, in a way, sums up the entire movie. It takes ideas and concepts from the original and turns it all up to 11; rather than a Park it’s a World, T-Rex wasn’t big and scary enough well we’ve now got the genetically engineered Indominous Rex, and rather than a dedicated if adventurous paleontologist we’ve got an ex-Navy officer who acts as alpha to a pack of raptors.
What all of this amounts to is a movie that’s a pretty fun ride, from epic establishing shot after epic establishing shot in the first act (these get a bit tiresome but are none the less impressive) to the chase and hunt of the second act to the inevitable big action set piece finale. With this though at no point did I feel the sense of tension and fear that permeates the original and, while it attempted to deal with the notion of man vs nature, it didn’t have the same heft, which left Jurassic World feeling a little flat.
Ok, maybe this isn’t what Jurassic World was trying to be, but unfortunately it falls between two stalls of being an all out action romp and trying to build up elements of the sense of tension from the original and it doesn’t quite hit either mark as successfully as it might.
Certainly compared to many other current, family-angled action fare, it stands up well, I’d rate it alongside the Marvel movies and their ilk strongly and head and shoulders above Transformers and such lesser stuff, but in the end it lacked the sense of presence and depth of its originator and I strongly doubt we’ll still be talking about it in two decades the way we are about Jurassic Park.