Director: Colin Trevorrow (2015)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dinosaurs
Find it: IMDB
As a male human being of not-quite-thirty with reasonably good taste in movies (okay, that last point is debatable) there's a part of me which is predisposed to always adore Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park; the summer blockbuster of my era. Marvel's Avengers and Independence Days may come and go, but for me, Jurassic Park will always be the one. With that in mind, its sequels have a lot to live up to.
Lost World managed it, but that did have Jeff Goldblum, the clifftop trailer sequence and my youth on its side. Also, it is genuinely good (shut up, it is). Jurassic Park III, less so. Jurassic World? To say I have mixed feelings would be an understatement. In Jurassic World, John Hammond's vision is up and running - a living, breathing, working Jurassic Park with attractions, a petting zoo and a Pandora outlet. It's been years since the last dinosaur attack, and the world is now not only used to the (re)existence of dinosaurs but bored of them too. "Bigger, scarier... more teeth," is the abiding mandate from new boss Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan). Hence the creation of its newest attraction - the man-made Indominus Rex (iRex, geddit). Suffice to say that Ian Malcolm would have a field day with this one.
It's no secret that Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park is responsible for at least 60% of the way I dress - and have dressed since I was old enough to say things like "fuck you mom, I want leather trousers" - and his Ian Malcolm remains among my top five movie characters of all time. Chris Pratt as Jurassic World's leading man feels like a good fit, then, seeing as I bought a red leather jacket and grew a face full of stubble just so's I could pretend Star Lord from off've Marvel too. Alas, this film does the actor few favours, giving him little to do beyond audition for Indiana Jones by rolling under a door and act like a creep towards Bryce Dallas Howard. He shouldn't feel too badly though: Jurassic World does nobody any favours, being a movie full of people that it's impossible to like. It's as though the six (six!) credited writers looked at that bit in Jurassic Park where Grant was a dick to kids, Malcolm hit on Ellie Sattler all the time and Tim and Lex were a pain in the ass, and just decided to go for their own approximation of that. Hence the parent divorce subplot and tacked-on family schtick, which feels more like an attempt to be Spielbergian rather than having its own reason to exist.
The story isn't much better, pulling in several different directions all at the same time, insisting on plowing ahead with bad ideas like military dinosaurs, iRex and Raptors being friends with Chris Pratt. Although, since all the characters constantly comment on what a terrible idea everything is, it does seem as though the filmmakers are aware of this too. It's a film that expects us to be awed by its dinosaurs at the same time as telling us that people are now bored of dinosaurs - two very different ideas, one of which does not sit well next to John Williams's majestic score.
At least the dinosaur attacks are on point, being remarkably cruel at times, for a family-friendly film. Its strikingly nasty Pteranodon attack brought me the movie's only belly-laugh (but what a belly laugh it was) while the Raptor attack sequence makes up for their mishandling elsewhere. The return of Henry Wu is welcome, while Howard does a sterling job with what little she has. Accusations of sexism aren't entirely inaccurate, but it does redeem itself somewhat with a good subversive gag for Lauren Lapkus (of Orange is the New Black fame).
It all falls apart again for the final fight - which is honestly even stupider than that of The Lost World - but at least looks good while it's doing it. Jurassic World isn't a complete waste - were I twelve or thirteen again, I would have loved this film. But then, thirteen-year-old me wore leather trousers, so what do I know.