Surprisingly way better than its trailers suggest -- dumb but extremely fun
(WARNING: This review may contain spoilers.)
I believe I wasn't the only one who thought that this 4th instalment of the Jurassic Park franchise was only going to be as good as The Lost World (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001) at best as each Jurassic World trailer or footage released was worse than the previous. But I'm glad to say I was wrong and not only that, I was yearning for more after the closing credits have rolled out. It's no where close to being as brilliant as the very first film (1993) that's directed by Steven Spielberg based on Michael Crichton's novel, and it doesn't try to be. There are even scenes where they strongly indicate that they're aware that it'd never be as good or "legit" as the original, to a point it's overdoing it at times.
The pressure was on whoever that takes on the director's role, and that brave person was Colin Trevorrow, whose first and only film was a quirky but funny rom-com titled Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), and despite not having any experience with big budget blockbusters, he's done very well. Jurassic World takes place 22 years after the events of the first film and seemingly ignoring the sequels completely. The original dinosaur theme park on Isla Nublar has been bought over and somehow (not explained), it was reopened and fully operational for a while now with new bigger and meaner species to be introduced as new attractions every few years to draw crowd in. This time they have a "Indominus Rex" that's genetically engineered with the Tyrannosaurus Rex as the base and the DNA of others kept a secret.
Concerned of this new exhibit's safety, park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is ordered by the owner to invite meticulous Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to inspect cage and walls of the Indominus before its open to public. Coincidentally on this busy day of Claire's, her two nephews are sent to the park to spend some time with her while their parents are dealing with their divorce. Almost soon as Owen arrives, the Indominus manages to escape and begins a killing spree in the park. Claire seeks for Owen's help to find her nephews who are unreachable and lost some where in the park while they figure out a way to stop the Indominus from entering the main area where all the hundred to thousands of people are gathered for safety.
The characters and dialogues are written to be quite underdeveloped, cliched and cheesy but the performances by cast are faultless. Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Lego Movie) portrayed his wise, funny, charming and courageous leading role well. Imagine Dr. Ian Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum) reincarnated into an action hero. Many thought that the raptor training and riding were going to be pretty darn stupid, but the film develops that part convincingly enough for it to seem riskily possible.
The star to me is probably Bryce Dallas Howard (The Twilight Saga, The Village) who plays the typical busy professional woman who always try her best to keep everything in control and prioritises the business of the park. Her dilemma, fear and gradual realisation of what she's done can be felt. Her sex appeal is a plus point. The dumb thing that the internet is definitely going to go on poking fun of for a long time is how she manages to survive and run away from dinosaurs wearing her pair of high heels in the entire film. There are quite a few stupid and predictable moments, particularly the ending and the shortcut romance between the two main characters, and not to mention the blatant product placements. However, with the amount of fun this film offers, it's forgivable.
There is definitely more heart in this instalment compared to the previous two sequels -- the makers of this film have crafted a whole new high-tech theme park and the narrative takes the audience around it while shit is happening. With the help of spectacular visuals, it makes me feel so excited that I wished I could actually go into the movie and run around in the park like a kid. Dinosaur holograms, baby triceratops rides, dinosaur-feeding, aquarium show with humongous alligator-like species, safety viewing ride with Jimmy Fallon as the host in the pre-recorded video -- they designed the park as though they were going to make a real one. The film also surprised me with its thoughtful themes and symbolism of consumer demands and corporate greed (which contradicts itself at times). With all that being said, Jurassic World is perhaps what many were hoping Disney's Tomorrowland to be.
Today's CGI alone is still not good enough yet to make the extinct historical monsters look more real than the animatronics in the first film but it's sufficient to convincingly depict the dinosaurs' presence. The Indominus Rex is truly a dreadful foe and along with the cool theme park that becomes chaotic when the other hostile species are let loose, it provides a lot of "run away from monsters" thrills and excitements that compensate the simple formulaic plot. The biggest downside to me is that the film lacks of a unique or at least memorable thrilling scene like, for example, the classic kitchen scene in the first film. Yes, the film is thoroughly fun, but almost every scene is predictable and not impressively creative.
The dinosaurs here aren't revealed one by one and they don't really hide much. The pacing of the film is quick and tasty, but it also sacrifices a lot of emotional engagement. It attempts to be nostalgic by playing the tunes from the original, but it only hides the fact that the director and writing are incapable of moving the audience. Claire's two young nephews Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins), like the other characters, are not developed and yet some pointless family drama is thrown in. Ultimately, they seem more like just helpless kids dumped into the movie just to make the film more relatable and scary, which, of course, has been done before in the franchise. The death toll is high but ultimately, nobody that the film wants the audience to care about dies, and everyone that you know would die, dies. No shocker and as crowd-pleasing as San Andreas, unfortunately.
Nonetheless, Jurassic World is a fantastic resurrection of the franchise and it has already made more than three times its $150 million production budget before I even started writing this review. That's a record-breaking number at the box office, by the way. Now that the profit has been gained and the tribute is paid in the right way, it's time to break through and be better than the first film, otherwise don't do another sequel at all, or it'd be contradicting the themes and messages of this film.
Malaysia censorship: I paid to watch it like everyone else. Besides the word the 'bitch', I doubt anything else was censored. It's rated PG13 anyway.
To watch in 3D / D-Box? I seen it in IMAX 3D. The depth is noticeable and may have provided subtle impact to my viewing experience. May be even more fun to watch it in D-Box.
Second opinion: My girlfriend liked it very much as well, saying that it's simply fun, fun. fun.
Verdict: Thoroughly entertaining despite its downsides and the lack of the first film's magic and spirit. It's the sequel that the Jurassic Park franchise should've gotten instead of the previous two instalments.
Rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Sci-fi adventure thriller
Running Time: 125 minutes
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Screenwriters: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, Judy Greer
Malaysia Release Date: 11 June 2015
Local Distributor: United International Pictures Malaysia
Production: Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Pictures
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