Carrying on the trend of not leaving perfectly good film franchises alone, Spielberg’s 1993 dinosaur epic is next to get the 21st century makeover, only this time it is a sequel rather than a remake. With much anticipation surrounding it, the unenviable but exciting task of directing falls to relatively unknown Colin Trevorrow. This instalment, set a whopping twenty-two years after its predecessor is ‘Jurassic World’, and stars man-of-the-moment Chris Pratt following his success in Guardians of the Galaxy. Brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) are packed up and sent away to Jurassic World by their feuding parents to be looked after by their Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). This clashes with a busy weekend for the theme park, and when the ‘unthinkable’ happens and a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur branded the Indonimus rex escapes from its enclosure, it is up to velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Pratt) to save the day. This has the intense action that all good blockbusters should and excellent special effects to boot, but has the inexperienced Trevorrow bitten off more than he can chew?
The popcorn movie boxes are ticked in terms of the suspense, the stereotyping, and the fact that most of the characters are pretty dumb. It falls into nearly every storytelling pitfall there is, leaving plotholes the size of prehistoric footprints in its wake but it is exactly what it sets out to be so you have to admire it for that. The nostalgic John Williams-esque score works to its advantage when references are made to the original, and the famous triceratops scene is almost replicated to pay homage. For me, the build up to the grand finale is actually stronger than the finale on this occasion and even for a film about a dinosaur theme park, things get a bit too ridiculous in the closing half hour.
Acting wise, Chris Pratt flexes his leading man muscles and holds his own given the pressure of the part. Robinson and Simpkins are compelling as the brothers who dare to wander into restricted access areas, and their performances are pivotal in what is one of the best sequences in the film, when they go in an abomination of a ride called a gyrosphere; a driveable version of the big hamster balls they use to have on the Gladiators. Bryce Dallas Howard is the least believable of the lot, but that is down to lazy writing more than anything else. Her character arc sees her start out uptight and straight-edged, flapping around like a hormonal busy bee for the most part until she suddenly transforms into a Lara Croft type heroine figure around halfway through. Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus offer amusement in their supporting roles as control room workers but sadly much of the impressive cast are underused.
‘Jurassic World’ is a breathtaking slice of cinematic escapism and provides a lot fun and entertainment, despite the flaws in the script. Overall I am pleased that they decided to dig up the fossil film franchise for further study, and director Colin Trevorrow does a solid job at crafting a sequel that will happily sit alongside the others, as well as introducing a new generation of cinema-goers to them. As summer blockbusters go, I’d be surprised if anything topped it this year and although it might not reach the dizzying heights of Spielberg standards, it is much more of a challenge to wow film audiences with dinosaurs nowadays.