The original Jurassic Park was a hugely successful film, for a number of reasons: it was a landmark in special effects, the characters were believable and relatable and Jeff Goldblum was actually surprisingly convincing. Two sequels followed, trying to rehash the same formula and completely failing. Over 10 years later, it was pretty inevitable that a reboot would emerge to profit from the nostalgia and hope to survive where others had fallen. And it just about has.
The new theme park, Jurassic World, succeeds in putting a modern twist on the old park. Bigger dinosaurs and more advanced rides are incorporated pretty well without detracting from the wonder of the island. While the original was set before the official opening of the park, here huge crowds fill the park and it works in the film's favour. The classic theme from John Williams helps to conjure up the nostalgia as the doors open on the park but there is a certain limit to the amount of times the use of this music works and somewhere between the third and fourth time it became pretty tired and uninspiring. On one side of the narrative are brothers Gray and Zach, visiting the park for the first time, playing the roles of Lex and Tim from the original. Sadly, this time they are rather less interesting, very one dimensional characters. Gray is the young enthusiast, obsessed with dinosaurs while Zach is the bored teenager, distinctly unamused by everything he sees. And that's where their characters begin and end. Oh and predictably they end up bonding amid the dinosaur filled chaos that follows. On the other side, and a whole lot more watchable, is manager of the park Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who initially appears to be a cookie-cutter evil character, but has a surprisingly good character arc and is very convincing in her bad to good shift. Sadly Chris Pratt is rather muted here, instead playing ranger and hero Owen Grady more physically, though he fairs well in the action sequences.
The newest creation of the park's lab team is a genetically modified creature, made up of a variety of dinos and packing a mighty punch. Unfortunately, having not learnt their lesson from the first park, the dinosaur breaks free from its enclosure and begins to stalk the island. This situation is pulled off well, as the dinosaur moves closer towards the main park and the huge crowds, with efforts to stop it growing more and more desperate as it draws closer, and the film also improves as it does. The first half of Jurassic World is pretty poor, with the two boys being interminably dull and repetitive (in one scene, they discuss fears about their parents divorcing but it is cast aside in a matter of seconds!) and the setup feels long winded and poorly written. However, when all hell breaks loose, it is genuinely entertaining and reflects the fact that the animals somehow manage to be so much more engaging and interesting to watch than any of the characters. A slowly dying stegosaurus crying out in pain was more emotional to watch than the death of any character. The film also looks fantastic. The jungles are lush, the landscapes are expansive and the dinosaurs are stunningly detailed. The final scenes reminded me of Godzilla from last year, although that focused a lot more on the human side of the story.
Saying that a movie with an often clunky script, largely uninspiring characters and a slightly messy plot was still an entertaining watch feels wrong to say but Jurassic World is just that. It also has courage and ambition to stray from the blockbuster formula, something to definitely admire. While it is far from the excellent original, it rises above and beyond the sequels. Let's just hope they leave it alone now, as Jurassic World wrapped up pretty nicely. But since it has already made over a billion dollars worldwide, another seems likely.