And so, 22 years after we were first invited into the world of Jurassic Park, we are back peering into both the past and the future of dinosaurs. The question facing the filmmakers was how to recreate the excitement we all experienced when we first saw Tyrannosaurus Rex and co for the first time.
With the second and third installments being so disappointing, a fourth film was going to have to be bigger and better. And that’s reflected in the storyline. It opens with the park’s management worrying that despite packed-out crowds, something new and dramatic is needed to maintain people’s interest.
And so the scientists have created Indominus Rex, a sort of super dinosaur that contains the best traits of different dinosaurs and other modern animals all rolled into one. Stronger, smarter and faster than anything else in the park, the exact genetic mix is a big secret to everyone but the scientists involved.
Meanwhile, visiting the park for the first time are brothers Gray and Zach Mitchell. Gray (Ty Simpkins) is the excitable dinosaur geek, while his older brother Zach (Nick Robinson) is walking hormones. Bored stiff at the park, he instead eyes up all the teenage girls despite having a devoted girlfriend back home. They are supposed to be visiting their aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park’s operations manager, but she palms them off on an English assistant.
Claire is anxious to open the Indominus enclosure as an attraction. Jurassic World owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) has Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), the Velociraptor expert and trainer, take a look. Despite the obvious potential for problems, Owen is the only one asking the questions others are afraid to ask. It turns out that the Indominus has been raised in isolation and is therefore not particularly fond of human interaction or other dinosaurs. Indeed it solved the latter problem by eating its sibling.
With scratch marks going all the way up the wall, its tracking device broken and the dinosaur seemingly missing from its enclosure, Owen and two staff are asked to enter and investigate. Only the Indominus hasn’t escaped and has instead laid a trap. Keeping his wits about him, Owen is the only one to survive. Round 1 to the new dinosaur on the block.
With an armed guard team fatally unsuccessful, the Indominus getting closer to the public resort area and Grey and Zach missing after deliberating exploring an off-limits zone, the situation is spiraling out of control. Ideas for solutions are getting more desperate and extreme, so it falls to Owen and an increasingly determined Claire to save the day.
Jurassic World does have some obvious flaws. The characters of Gray and beige, sorry, Zach could have been better developed. In their highly dramatic moments in the film, you realise how little attachment you have for either of them. The divorce aspect of their parents is unnecessary and feels like a lazy device to invoke sympathy. However, they really go to town on the rather sadistically extreme death of one of the film’s minor characters. The less said about Claire’s plausibility in high highs to outrun dinosaurs the better.
But it’s hard to be too critical when a film delivers on its promise. The dinosaurs, what we all came for, are spectacular. Chris Pratt revels in the high-octane and quick-thinking action hero role, and new Indiana Jones or not, clearly has a big future in blockbusters. Relatively unknown director Colin Trevorrow might have seemed a bold choice to control such an ambitious project, but he does a fantastic job in keeping us thrilled, terrified and enthralled. Irrfan Khan, better known for his work in Hindi cinema, was an inspired casting choice, with his charisma and charm fleshing out a minor role.
But the biggest delight is the park itself. The attention to detail in the attraction aspect of the park is superb. As an audience member, You really do feel like one of the visitors who has stepped into the world. Just like a trip to a real-life theme park should be, Jurassic World is fun, adventurous and exhilarating.