The transition from creating a successful indie-comedy film to directing the difficult revival of a classic and adored franchise can be no easy task, yet Colin Trevorrow has done exactly that. Following 2012’s Safety Not Guaranteed, a film made with a modest $750k, Trevorrow graduated straight into blockbuster leagues to take the reigns on a $150-180 million behemoth. The result is Jurassic World, a true summer release boasting 65 million year old action on a triumphantly enormous scale.
We meet our new and initially uninteresting child leads packing their luggage and leaving their parents at home, heading off on vacation to meet with their distant Auntie Claire, the career-focused park overseer at the fully-operational Jurassic World. Too busy for a full-on family reunion, Claire is caught up in meeting with her boss and developing the newest project to maintain public interest, a genetically engineered dinosaur known as the Indominus Rex. From its first teased glimpses through the jungle, this lab-grown predator is a wonderfully impressive creature and makes a worthy prehistoric foe, easily rivalling the classic T-Rex. The effects rendering on the I-Rex is arguably the best visual work of the movie, only equalled by the tremendous sound design that gives the beast its deep snarls and rumbling growls.
Trevorrow deserves considerable praise for his world-building around Central America’s Dino-Disney, the opening act exploring the park through the excitable eyes of an enthusiastic kid is fantastic. Michael Giacchino teases the iconic score as visitors journey to the main complex, breaking into the full orchestral glory of John Williams’ original theme as the expanse of Jurassic World is unveiled – it’s an undeniably joyful and truly magnificent moment. However this isn’t a movie that relies on continual references to its predecessor. Trevorrow smartly avoids overuse of the powerful “nostalgia card” on offer, instead lacing in just enough playful nods to re-ignite childish delight amongst the fans of the original.
While the two hour runtime is no chore, there are elements of Jurassic World that don’t quite work. Weak additional subplots feel tacked on, detracting from the thrust and focus of the main story. Certain segments of dialogue stray too far towards being cliché, Chris Pratt retains his reliable form but suffers through a few lines that are right on the edge of cheesiness. Most of this is perfectly forgiveable considering how well the film generally plays around with expected stereotypes, pulling off some entertaining “bait & switch” manoeuvres right as you’re predicting what’s about to happen.
Jurassic World is nowhere close to the sheer scale of imagination that Spielberg innovatively captured in ’93, but is more than capable of reviving the franchise for the smartphone age. The movie almost follows the plans of the profit-hungry park executives themselves, opting for the “bigger and more teeth” strategy to draw in the modern audience that have been spoilt by the magnitude of CGI-heavy blockbusters on offer in recent years. Aside from the pure spectacle of watching dinosaurs battle it out, Jurassic World is made complete by its strong core concept, solid performances (particularly from the hilarious Jake Johnson) and its excellent score from Giacchino. Yes, there are moments where the scope of Trevorrow’s vision outpace the ability of his VFX studios, and yes, it may be a little overly gimmicky or cheesy at times, but despite its flaws Jurassic World is a terrific action-adventure thrill-ride and we couldn’t have asked for much more for the franchise’s return.
★ ★ ★ ★
Jurassic World is on wide release in UK & US Cinemas now.