For quite a number of our generation, Jurassic Park holds a place of reverence in the heart. For many, it was their first cinematic experience and, as such, all spectacles of wonder are invariably compared to it on some level. It's hard to quantify how eye-opening and truly wondrous Jurassic Park was when it was released in 1992. Everything about it is iconic - the music, the groundbreaking special effects, Jeff Goldblum's open-shirt, Bob Peck's icy-cool dialogue.
So naturally, when Jurassic World was announced, many of us held our breath and expected the worst. After all, Jurassic Park III was a bitter disappointment for fans and The Lost World, although entertaining, did not live up to the first's impressive standards. Therefore, you can only hope that Jurassic World breaks even. Set twenty-two years after the first one, Isla Nublar is home to Jurassic World - a SeaWorld-esque holiday resort that's replete with dinosaurs and product placement opportunities. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is one of the top execs at the park and runs the day-to-day operations of the company and the park itself. Her two nephews, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, are sent to the resort whilst their parents sort out their divorce.
Despite the success of the resort, audience figures are flagging and a new attraction is needed - enter the Indominus Rex, a lab-created hybrid dinosaur that's unlike anything on the island. The script goes to great lengths - and some truly cheesy trailer-esque dialogue - to remind you that the Indominus is A), unlike any dinosaur and B), highly, almost ridiculously intelligent. When Owen (Chris Pratt), a park ranger who's also training velociraptors for the fun of it, is sent to inspect the Indominus Rex's paddock, it decides to stage a prison break and escape.
Director Colin Trevorrow, on his second film, has been lumbered with a massive, culturally important film that has a huge following AND an emotional attachment to this generation. The script, which has seen several permutations, rewrites and reimaginings, feels lean and taut. There's a new monster on the island, it's gotten loose, people have to stop it. Trevorrow knows that any adornments are secondary - it has to drive forward at all times, much like the first one. Pratt and Dallas Howard have decent on-screen chemistry. In Pratt, we find our next Harrison Ford - if you squint your eyes at certain point, it looks like Indiana Jones-era Ford. Likewise, the youngsters who act as our tour guides through the resort serve well to remind ourselves of the frailty of it all. Vincent D'Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, BD Wong and Jake Johnson all make a reasonably well-rounded supporting cast.
However, the real star of the show is the dinosaur. After all, it's just actors talking at nothing if they fail to capture our imagination. Throughout the opening twenty minutes, Howard's character acknowledges that both visitors to the resort - and the audience itself - are immune to the spectacle of seeing a dinosaur. So what's needed in its place? Something terrifying. The Indominus Rex is truly the villain of the piece and Trevorrow's clever direction and Michael Giacchino's bombastic score truly sets the mood for a B-movie romp. That's essentially what Jurassic World is - an entertaining romp, the kind you don't see that much of anymore because they have to fit into an existing universe and set it up for the next one and give us all the exposition. There's a minimal amount of gore - no more than the original Jurassic Park, in fact - but there's a constant sense of dread of what's around the corner.
Here, Jurassic World is free to run its own path. It doesn't need to be littered with references to the original nor does it need lengthy exposition. It's invigorating to see a blockbuster like this that it is, at its heart, engaging and entertaining and unencumbered with the weight of a twelve-movie franchise on top of it. Sure, there were films that came before - but what of it? This is here and in front of us and damn if it's not a good time at the cinema. There are, of course, a few caveats to take into the darkened room with you. Some of the dialogue is quite stilted and feels like it was written to be used in a trailer. There's also a sense that you're never more than three minutes away from a jump scare - which can make you feel like you're running ragged at some point.
Despite all this, Jurassic World is an entertaining jaunt into nostalgia with a few updated parts here and there.