|The special effects in the original Jurassic Park movie were groundbreaking but the power of technology today makes the dinosaurs even more real|
Some children and most paleontologists will watch Jurassic World through their fingers. The former because it gets pretty darned scary, the latter because of the liberties it takes with prehistorical accuracy.
Actual velociraptors had feathers, not scales, and that’s only the half of it.
For the rest of us, however, this is an exhilarating adventure, certain to be a huge box-office hit, and a worthy addition to what I suppose must be called the Jurassic Park franchise – although the film itself, the fourth in the series about dinosaurs brought back from extinction to entertain us, bluntly satirises horrible marketing speak. Thus, the dinosaurs in what is now a fully functioning theme park are known to the people who work there merely as ‘assets’, and the beefy chaps who must keep them safely behind walls and bars as the ‘asset-containment’ crew.
In another welcome poke at rampant zoo and theme-park commercialism, the bigger dinosaurs even carry corporate sponsorship.
So who knows whether anyone on set recognised the irony of the film’s hero, Owen (Chris Pratt), clearly swigging from a bottle of Coke. Satire is all well and good, but a bit of product placement never hurt anyone, right?
Owen is the film’s conscience, a velociraptor trainer to whom the animals are individuals, not assets. But otherwise the island theme park first envisaged in the original 1993 film by Richard Attenborough’s character John Hammond has itself become a barely controllable beast.
It is owned by the eighth richest man in the world, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), whose motives are decent enough; he wants his thousands of daily visitors to have the best possible experience.
But this is a world in which children look at stegosauruses as if they were elephants, and in encouraging his employees to produce ever-bigger, fiercer creatures, Masrani has endorsed a programme of genetic modification which has yielded a terrifying hybrid, the Indominus Rex. It’s not exactly a spoiler to let on that the Indominus duly escapes, and wreaks terrible carnage.
Trying to escape it are the park’s operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her two nephews, Zach and Gray, visiting from the United States.
So will the decidedly uptight, chilly Claire end up bonding with her nephews? Will she relax into the muscular arms of Owen? And will Zach, the moody teenager resentful of his annoying younger sibling, find brotherly love? You’ll enjoy finding out.
Director Colin Trevorrow, with only one feature film behind him (the charming but low-key 2012 comedy Safety Not Guaranteed) hasn’t done much to explain why he was given this particular $150million ship to helm. But he does a fine job, helped of course by spectacular effects, as well as a script which allows in regular shafts of wit.
It’s not very much more than a monster-on-the-loose movie, and it’s weird that the man-eating dinosaurs only really seem to have an appetite for the bad guys, but it’s superbly realised.
I like to think of Dickie Attenborough in the celestial screening-room, crying: ‘Marvellous, darlings, simply maaarvellous!’
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