Jurassic Park was the first film to really scare me. In that dark cinema, I spent most of the film with my head in my mum’s lap trying to hide from those damn Velociraptors in the kitchen. Still, I was only six.
Now, over twenty years later, we’re after bigger thrills. And so are the attendees of Jurassic World, the dinosaur theme park that’s now finally open. What better way to achieve this than by creating a brand new dinosaur, the Indominus Rex?
It all begins with cinema’s most irresponsible parents, who send off their two sons to the park to be looked after by their aunt Claire, the operations manager of the park who proceeds to leave the kids in the incapable hands of her assistant. But then, this is a film all about irresponsibility: scientists playing at God by messing with genetics, and a woman failing to keep control over her park or her family. However much humanity may try, we cannot control nature – unless, of course, you’re Chris Pratt.
The plot, then, is utterly silly with gaping plot holes bigger than a T-Rex’s jaw span. How this theme park was allowed to exist without basic safety measures is incomprehensible. Then again, the Jurassic Park series has always been more of a thrill ride than a serious scientific exploration and Jurassic World is more of a family film than ever. Having Chris Pratt as the lead only cements this, his comedic tongue-in-cheek acting style suiting the film’s tone even if he’s mostly reduced to macho action hero. Too often the action implausibly stops for some sort of quip when there really should be a little more urgency, yet this is a fun piece of blockbuster all-round entertainment that’s far from realism.
It might be mindless, but it’s equally tense, seat-gripping stuff. The usual set of raptors and a T-Rex are already suitably frightening, let alone combining them into the powerful Indominus Rex. The dinosaur might be a make-believe monster whose genetics conveniently advance the story, but it still allows for some exciting (if predictable) set pieces. It’s a rollercoaster ride fitting of any theme park.
Above all, though, this is a film about nostalgia. Jurassic World is, quite literally, built on Jurassic Park. When the two boys stumble upon the old Visitor Centre, its T-Rex skeleton now a crumpled heap on the floor, it’s a powerful moment for those of us who grew up with the previous three films. Many ideas from Jurassic Park are repeated here, including some specific shots (the two boys in the gyrosphere obviously parallels the two children from the first film being attacked by the T-Rex in the jeep), though it certainly helps to bring the series back to its roots whilst kickstarting it for a new generation. When the camera pans over the island and its majestic inhabitants to the sound of John Williams’ glorious theme tune, Jurrassic World still has the power to wow.
Watch: Jurassic World is out now.