Written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly / Directed by Colin Trevorrow / Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson and Tyrannosaurus Rex
Dr. Henry Wu: “Monster” is a relative term. To a canary, a cat is a monster. We’re just used to being the cat.
One could argue that a reboot of the original JURASSIC PARK franchise is relatively unnecessary. It’s been twenty-two years since the Steven Spielberg classic roared into theatres, tearing up the box office and shattering people’s expectations about what special effects could make possible. People were as wowed by those dinosaurs as if they were actually spectators at the park themselves. It’s been fourteen years though since the franchise ended, badly at that, and let’s be honest, dinosaurs are kinda as old hat as the expression I just used to describe them. After seeing director Colin Trevorrow’s JURASSIC WORLD, I suspect he might feel similarly, at least in part that is. His vision of this franchise honours the past with great thrills and nods aplenty, but the underlying question beneath every dinosaur sized stomp is whether or not our need for everything to be bigger will eventually become our demise.
The plot is simple enough. Two brothers, Gray and Zack (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson of THE KINGS OF SUMMER fame), head out to Costa Rica for a weekend at Jurassic World with their aunt, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). The park is fully open now. They worked out whatever it was that was allowing so much dino-destruction in the past and now see about 20,000 visitors a day come through the park. Wouldn’t you know it? The day these two youngsters, Gray, a dino-geek and Zach, a broody boy, come to visit is the day that everything goes to hell. A new dinosaur, one that was genetically spliced together because marketing shows that people need bigger, scarier, toothier dinosaurs, named, also through focus groups, Indominus Rex, has chosen this day to leave her cage and kill everything in sight. Enter Chris Pratt as Owen, friend to all the the animals, leading male saviour type and reluctant love interest for Claire and you’ve got yourself a serviceable and somewhat transparent plot to to lay the groundwork for some pretty intense dino-sized action. There is a distracting subplot involving the weaponizing of dinosaurs that I found irksome but that could be because I don’t care for Vincent D’Onofrio. (SPOILER: I do like watching him get eaten, very much so.)
What elevates JURASSIC WORLD past its thin plot and fairly one-dimensional characters are its subtly subversive digs at today’s blockbuster culture. JURASSIC PARK was a game changer. The spectators at Jurassic World meanwhile need a new dinosaur every few years just to keep their interest peaked, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex is now nothing more than an attraction with a parental guidance warning. And while we don’t live in a world where actual dinosaurs exist, that I know of anyway, the thrill has definitely been worn down since we were first introduced to them in 1993, by years of superheroes and world destruction and THE TREE OF LIFE. It becomes Trevorrow’s duty to remind us just how thrilling dinosaurs can be even though we’ve all seen them before and despite Hollywood’s obsession with topping itself weekend after weekend. Besting the original would have been more or less impossible and expecting JURASSIC WORLD to do so would make it doomed to fail. JURASSIC WORLD is easily the most dinosaur related fun I’ve had since I was a 16-year-old boy watching JURASSIC PARK for the first time (if you discount JURASSIC PARK 3D a few years back), but I think once again, the point has been made, and the parks doors should be closed once again. To continue would be needless and Trevorrow has already said he won’t return to the franchise if asked, so perhaps he agrees. That said, I will not be the least bit surprised when JURASSIC WORLD 2 hits theatres.