12 jun. 2015

Jurassic World (6/10): Leave it to Chris Pratt to rescue a franchise along with his raptor buddies.

“You just went and made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea.”

This review of Jurassic World is brought to you by Mercedes Benz and classy high-heel running shoes. After the success with his sci-fi indie film, Safety Not Guaranteed, Colin Trevorrow was given the reigns to direct the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. With the help of his collaborator, Derek Connolly, he co-wrote the script based on Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver’s story. It was a pretty risky move considering Trevorrow hadn’t worked on a big budget film before, but with all the product placement included here you can tell he was probably very restricted and controlled by the executives. But I’m not going to complain about that because if you think about it Jurassic Park also had tons of product placement and that is one of my favorite blockbuster action films of all time. Jurassic World tries to pay homage to the first film ignoring most everything that happened in the sequels and once the dinosaurs are set lose it succeeds in doing so. The set-up was probably unnecessary and by far the weakest part of the movie as most of the characters here were uninteresting and we could’ve done without the introduction of so many of them. Fortunately Chris Pratt shows up soon enough with his domesticated raptors and saves the movie from derailing entirely from its rather stupid plot. He’s the new Indiana Jones and he can make the dumbest screenplay seem cool and entertaining. He delivers the perfect amount of comedic relief and has some great actions scenes to carry the movie. The dinosaurs are spectacular as always and there were a couple of thrilling scenes, although Michael Giacchino’s score never matches the brilliance of the original (there is a cool piano cover of the original Jurassic Park theme however that delivers plenty of nostalgia to fans). Jurassic World doesn’t live up to the high standards set by the original which was a masterpiece, but it’s as slightly satisfying a sequel as the rest of the films in the franchise. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it is better, but Chris Pratt does make it a lot easier to enjoy.

So Jurassic World is set some 20 years after the events of the original film. John Hammond’s vision of a dinosaur theme resort has been functioning for over a decade now in Isla Nublar. Unfortunately the attendance rates in recent years has been dropping as the enthusiasm and novelty of seeing these live beasts has died down a bit. The owner of the resort, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), has ordered his scientists to genetically engineer a bigger and meaner dinosaur knowing that this will spark more interest. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is in charge of organizing and managing the park and one of her responsibilities is making sure this new dinosaur remains contained. Simon asks her to talk to Owen (Chris Pratt), one of the on-site staff members who’s in charge of conducting behavioral research on Velociraptors, and ask him to give his opinion on the safety of the creature’s new home. Owen had no prior knowledge of what these scientists had been doing and is not happy about the management’s decision, but before he has time to do anything the creature escapes and now they must alert the thousands of people who are at the park that a dangerous dinosaur is on the lose. Claire’s nephews, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), happen to be visiting the park and of course they don’t pay attention to the warning and are left stranded near the danger zone. Claire asks Owen to help her find them and thus the thrills begin. 

There are several other characters in this film that aren’t given much depth. It’s a shame because a talented cast including Vincent D’Onofrio, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, and Judy Greer are entirely wasted. Johnson has some fine scenes and it’s cool he got to wear a Jurassic Park vintage t-shirt, but his character didn’t have much to do really. The entire plot revolving around D’Onofrio’s character felt recycled from the first sequel and was quite silly. Omar Sy, I love him, but he wasn’t given anything remotely interesting to do. The two kids in this film are as exciting as watching two brothers who don’t get along. I’ve already said that Chris Pratt is the saving grace of the film along with the dinosaurs, but he also has some great scenes with Bryce Dallas Howard as well. She’s perhaps the only other redeeming character in the film although at times it felt like she was trying too hard to be Jessica Chastain. It’s kind of hard to feel that same level of suspense we all got from the first film when there aren’t many characters to root for here. Fortunately the film doesn’t take itself too seriously and it ends up being a lot of fun and the less you sit down to think about it the more fun you will have watching the dinosaurs hunt down the visitors. I think that Trevorrow knew the premise was silly and used the genetically engineered dinosaur story as an allegory as to what the audience wants from a sequel: They’ve already seen the dinosaurs and are getting tired of them, so why not give them a more threatening one, and so he did.      

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