“Ooohhh… ahhh…. That’s how it always starts. And then later there’s running and screaming.”
Thus spake Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm in the second of Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking (yep, pun intended) dinosaur movies, once the Rules of Engagement had been established.
Well, the first part isn’t particularly true anymore.
This is now twenty-two years later and according to Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the operations manager of the new, larger and more dangerous version of John Hammond’s dream theme park, people aren’t all that impressed with ‘just’ dinosaurs at this stage. They want something bigger and with more teeth.
From the moment I laid eyes on Claire and heard her practicing her company speech in the elevator I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to warm to her; and that first impression really did last a long time. Right through to the end of the movie, to tell you the truth. Mind you, although Jurassic World is a film replete with terrific special effects, one of the most very special of all must be Claire’s choice of clothing. It starts off as your average, smart-but-eye-catching Corporate Whore dress; but as the movie progresses and Doc Malcolm’s ‘running and screaming’ gets going, it becomes more and more neatly bedraggled and fetchingly shorter.
Very impressive indeed. As impressive as Ms. Dearing’s legs, it has to be said –which, I guess, puts me in the ‘Jurassic sexist pig’ category; but come on, it’s not like the film makers didn’t know what they were doing.
Claire has been landed with her two nephews for a spell, something that this career lady is really not cut out for. I sympathised with her here: the younger one is marginally irritating, the older one completely and utterly so. There’s also a totally unnecessary sub-plot concerning (deep agonized breath here) the impending divorce of their parents.
Enough! Show me the dinosaurs! And by God, they are breathtaking.
But, you know something? Claire, annoying though she is, really knows her job because dinosaurs actually aren’t just enough anymore; either for the alternate world of the film nor the world that I’m watching this movie in. The main irritation-of- a-nephew plays with his phone instead of looking at the exhibit in front of him, which only happens to be a T-rex – obviously yesterday’s news.
Likewise, the little shits who were in the cinema when I saw it, felt free to run around until the really big guns were pulled out. I look forward to the bewilderment of their doormat parents in twenty years’ time when their little shits have grown up to be big shits – thugs or junkies or just selfish adults. Remember, mommy and daddy – you brought it on yourself when you failed to teach them a few rudimentary manners.
In case you’re wondering – yes, I was feeling a bit grumpy because I had got the show time wrong and arrived to find it was 3D. This time around, though, I was really into the experience. I think that perhaps the process has moved on since I last saw it two or three years ago and perhaps the makers aren’t quite as conscious of shooting certain scenes just to suit the format.
At one point, as the nephews are shown around an interpretive centre with three-dimensional dinosaurs I was struck by how bizarre this was – me, sitting there watching characters in a 3D movie about dinosaurs looking at 3D dinosaurs. I really don’t know how anyone can remain unmoved or pretend to be too cool to find this new science-fiction world of ours utterly incredible.
The Jurassic theme park is a fully-realized world, just jaw-droppingly convincing and packed with in-jokes for the initiated. And when the first REALLY big effect comes in the form of the humongously ginormous Mosasaurus rocketing from the SeaWorld-like enclosure to devour a shark, even the annoying nephew manages to tear his eyes away from this phone — as did the spoiled little cinema-brats.
Chris Pratt, so impressive in last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, plays Owen Grady – and I tentatively have to say I really like this guy, especially as I’ve seen a couple of interviews where he was kind of un-PC; and that’s always a plus for me. Maybe it’s a bit early to become a cheerleader for him, but he comes across as a very natural screen presence – unforced, likable and as the annoying nephew puts it, ‘ a real badass.’
Well, right enough: I’m not sure what else you’re going to call someone who trains bloody velociraptors for a living. This guy has his own pack, for crying out loud – and I don’t care what anyone says, the scene of him motorbiking alongside them as the Alpha in the group is going to bring out the macho shithead in even a quiet guy like me.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hoskins, in theory the head of security but with some sinister links to the military; and he would really like Owen and his killer pack as a very formidable weapon. And yes, we’ve seen this before; but if this set-up was for real I’m betting that is exactly what would be happening. Imagine letting loose a pack of trained raptors in Iran. It would be a wet dream for some of our ‘protectors’ in the Pentagon. And by the way, Hoskins is played by the great Vincent D’Onofrio who has put on an amazing amount of weight. I’ve really loved this actor ever since his pitch-perfect portrayal of Robert E. Howard, so I hope that he sheds a few pounds soon; I’d like him around a bit longer.
Hopkins gets a chance to pursue his own slippery agenda when the Park’s new, genetically created and lab-grown hybrid escapes from its enclosure (bet you didn’t see that one coming) and starts creating havoc and bloodshed throughout.
Director Colin Trevorrow and his co-writers Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Derek Connolly have given us a wonderful entertainment that is respectful to the original trilogy; and by the way, I’m one of the few who thinks that Joe Johnston’s Jurassic Park III is horrendously and unfairly disparaged. It’s a fine movie and I’ll never understand the contempt that is heaped on it.
Composer Michael Giacchino also does the right thing by keeping the main themes from John Williams’s original; and when that tinkling motif begins then it hits that you actually miss the physical presence of John Hammond… and you remember how great Darling Dickie Attenborough really was.
There’s also a surprisingly intense buzz of nostalgia when the film takes us back to the overgrown locations of the original film – and we realise that this series has genuinely built up its own mythology.
Jurassic World is very good indeed. Of course, the trouble now is how are they going to top it? This one was originally supposed to feature human-dinosaur hybrids until some sense prevailed. I suppose this will eventually happen – but until that cheesy moment arrives we can be very happy with this addition to the three fine films that we already have.