Review: Jurassic World

In a year of supposed blockbusters, where most so far are proving to be pretty disappointing experiences, along comes another much hyped, and much anticipated event movie which fails to buck the trend.  My anticipation for this film was quite high last year, but as the trailer campaign progressed I grew less interested as it looked to be more Jurassic Park 3 than 1 or 2 (yes, even 2 has some redeeming features).  The ropey CGI seen in the trailers didn’t worry me too much as surely they would refine that in post production…surely?

Jurassic World, as many will tell you, is the spiritual successor to the first film.  Ignoring the side stories of the different islands of the previous sequels, this film is set decades after the events of the first film, and a fully operational dinosaur park has been established.  However, bizarrely it didn’t take the population of the planet too long to tire of dinosaurs (even though the packed streets and attractions of the park that we keep seeing kind of contradict that contrived plot element), and so the park works at not only extracting more DNA from fossils, but also mixing up their own new brand of dinosaur.  Enter the deadly Indominus Rex, a genetically bred mix of mysterious origins (although the twist of where the DNA came from isn’t although clever although so it thinks, being easy to work out in the first lines of dialogue introducing the beast).  Cue Rex escaping and rampaging over the island, putting park guests and exhibits in danger.  Included in them are the nephews of the park controller, the generic military madman who wants to use dinosaurs as weapons, the nerdy worker in the control room, and Chris Pratt in a role that seems like an afterthought which was expanded when Guardians of the Galaxy proved popular.

Let me first of all get off my chest that this is yet another film  in which unnecessary conversion to 3D actually helps damage the experience thanks to some genuinely poor composting of multiple images.  In crowd scenes, the live action characters are mapped poorly among CGI constructs, resulting in moments where they seem to be mapped ahead of other people when they should be behind.  Shots in motion result in a bending of scenery (and in some cases limbs) as the forced perspective struggles to keep up with the changing visual perspective.  The jarring effect of such poor rendering snaps you out of the film, and you end up unable to really immerse yourself in the events on screen.  In addition, this is yet another action film where converting to 3D makes it so that too much is going on in some moments for your eyes to follow, and I had to close one eye on occasion just to keep up with the visuals on screen.  When combined with some sloppy CGI which quite clearly wasn’t improved after the trailers, it doesn’t make for a great experience.  The dinosaurs look great, however, but it is the many CGI park shots that fail spectacularly.

But even without the 3D and ropey CGI, the film is nothing more than an average experience, marginally better than the third film was, but nothing more.  The characters are dull, generic drones, with Pratt suffering the most from a part that (as mentioned) seems to have been expanded once his popularity exploded last year.  The story setting – a packed theme park – should have led to more peril than we had seen in previous films, but instead we only really have a small number of people in peril, aside from one small moment when crowds (who mysteriously vanish minutes later) are attacked.  A few half baked forced nods to the original film (and seriously, how long do batteries last in equipment that is decades old?) make it seem that the director desperately wants you to love his film as much ands that old one.  Continuity between shots suffered at times, and I get the feeling there are some late re shoots and additions forced in which account for the problems (especially as most involve Pratt and Howard’s characters, which further highlight the expanded minor role previously mentioned).

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But, hey, maybe I’m being too picky.  After all, surely all that people want from the film is dinosaurs?  Well, if so then the film does deliver.  The effects for the dinosaurs are great, with all the favourites in the mix, and the new Rex being a gloriously terrifying creation (although also an inconsistent one in the tracking abilities it is said to have).  The roar chills, the skin detail is disturbingly real, and the creations all fit well into the scenes.  It’s just a shame that the human elements are so weak, as instead of us being thrilled at the peril on screen, we are nought but visitors to a theme park ourselves,  watching the dinosaurs with a modicum of interest, but internally feeling a bit tired of seeing things we have seen 3 times before.

Jurassic World will no doubt thrill the easily pleased who just want dinosaurs fighting dinosaurs, but to those of us who prefer there to be some semblance of plot, characters, or drama (you know…human element) in our films, then it is nothing more than forgettable eye candy destined to be looked back on as just another sequel.

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