Somehow, over the last fourteen years, with our minds muddled by soaring superheroes and a stampede of overwhelming television shows keeping our tails tied to our sofas, we forgot how cool dinosaurs are. Dinosaurs. Those terrestrial vertebrates who dominated for over 135 million years. Terrible lizards, if you will. Although the meaning may be somewhat misleading, those who ditched rollercoasters in favour of Jurassic World – and in the current climate who could blame them – might not disagree with the first part.
We know the story. Twenty-two years after the horrific events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar is home to a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World. But after ten years of operation, visitor rates are declining. People are bored. They want bigger. They want badder. They want a lot more teeth. So why not give them what they want. No expense spared, and all that.
A new attraction. A new dinosaur. A new problem. In fact, a lot more problems. There’s surprisingly little screen time for our dinosaurs in the opening twenty minutes. Instead we’re introduced to characters with little rapport and irritating in manner. Fear not, they grow on you, but not until director Colin Trevorrow plays his hand, revealing our big bad, the Indominus Rex. It makes the velociraptors look like puppies, which as far as Owen (Chris Pratt) is concerned, isn’t too far from the truth.
The body count is huge, helped along by one of the most goose-bumpy screen presences in many a year. Nastiness ensues from hereon in, its menace compounded when one of the gentler giants gets it in the neck. Humans are one thing, but Trevorrow takes time out to pull at the heart strings, and despite the human fatalities that came before, shit just got real.
Lucky we have Chris Pratt on board. Forget next big thing, Pratt reinforces his big thing tag with gusto – his presence almost as gratifying as our time spent with the park’s monstrous inhabitants. Of which there are surprisingly few. You can see why someone spliced a new one. The T-Rex is AWOL. Others perform and play with visitors. The raptors have been tamed, showing mercy, even kindness. In fact, if it wasn’t for Indominus, the raptors would have been auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent come the next installment.
That said, there's something a little unsettling about siding with such brutal adversaries. Too much history. It gets worse, too. There’s so many thrills packed into a pleasing running time (running being the operative word), Jurassic World is as tense and frantic as you always hoped it would be. So much so, by the time you reach the welcome return of the true alpha (with a slightly silly climax to boot), you’ve long-since committed, and can easily forgive its sappy shenanigans. You may even fall for it.
Everyone remain calm. Moments will surprise, more will shock, but most will entertain. Replacing science with suspense, Jurassic World has more teeth than the last two chapters put together. Trevorrow found a way. DW