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Jurassic World Movie Review 2D & 3D

July 12, 2015

12 July 2015

As someone fascinated with dinosaurs since childhood, the original Jurassic Park movie of 1993 was like a dream come true. For it allowed the closest opportunity to seeing dinosaurs as real living and breathing creatures. The scene where Alan and Ellie first see the brachiosaurus and begin to slowly look up, I was willing the camera to pan up in concert. It was a great part of this movie’s attraction: the suspense of finally seeing dinosaurs. That moment with the brachiosaurus, it was one never to forget.

Twenty two years on, the lustre of merely seeing dinosaurs has waned. So, too, in parallel is the plot of the latest movie, Jurassic World. It’s not enough simply to have dinosaurs anymore; they need to be bigger, badder and scarier than ever. This leads to the central plot of the film, of a crazy genetic cocktail that created the latest “asset” to the park, the Indominus Rex.

Naturally the Indominus gets loose, and it’s up to the heroes of the day to stop the thing, all the while constrained by the demands of the park’s owners trying to protect their financial interests. They don’t want the I-Rex killed, nor do they want too much collateral damage (humans killed) that could see the park closed down. That’s great for the viewer because the safest most direct option of blowing up the I-Rex from a helicopter would have made for a very dull and short movie.

Except for the first 20 minutes of character development, Jurassic World proved highly entertaining. The action was non-stop, the dinosaurs were brilliant, the comedic moments worked and there were no dopey, protracted romance scenes. For dinosaur aficionados, there were some great new ones like the giant marine Mosasaurus, the armoured Ankylosaurus and an assortment of pterosaurs. Anyone that had nightmares after seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” will have scarier ones now involving those pterosaurs.

Old favourites were back like Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus and, most notably, Velociraptor. The Velociraptors were actually the central characters of the film – and needed to be, because the human characters were mostly cardboard. Sadly missing was someone of the ilk of the hilarious Jeff Goldblum and his character, Ian Malcolm. Minor comedic traits were spread through the various characters, rather than have one central character provide all the laughs. It worked well and negates the possibility of a character becoming too corny if you don’t have an actor of the calibre of Goldblum to play it. This film doesn’t. None of Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B. D. Wong and Irrfan Khan are known to me. I might have guessed Wong plays Dr Wu, simply because of the Chinese name. That probably makes me racist. Doesn’t Irrfan Khan make a great image viewer? All proved serviceable in their roles, which is all that I ask.

Also great to finally see in action was the theme park itself. Remember, the original Jurassic Park never opened after the Tyrannosaurus went nuts. Now the park is bursting with life, colour, people and some interesting rides. There were also some nice touches reflecting on the original park, especially signage and the original gates. Nostalgia buffs will get a kick out of seeing some of this stuff.

I saw this film first in 2D and then had to go back for 3D. 3D is definitely the preferred viewing. With the extra dimension, you get 50% more film! Not only that, the scenery was breathtaking, especially from the helicopter, while the close-ups with the dinosaurs made you feel really close-up, maybe too close! The advantage of going twice also meant that with the characters fully realised, that early dialogue made so much more sense and proved really interesting. One thing I wish had not picked up was the younger boy on the train talking about his parents potentially divorcing and then having a sook. Really? Did we really need this extraneous and irrelevant drivel?

Spoiler Section

To tighten up the film, I’d have started it at the scene where claw marks were discovered on the wall of the I-Rex’s enclosure, and then cut to the scene with the raptor trainer doing his stuff and then he’s summoned to inspect the I-Rex situation. You didn’t need the drivel between the mother and her workaholic sister that ran the park. Nor the older kid being a pervert constantly leering at girls and not that interested in dinosaurs. Nor the dispute between the raptor trainer and head Ingen security officer. That guy just needed to burst into the control centre at the stage when the I-Rex could not be contained and announce he’s taking over. We’d already know the raptor trainer would be upset at a swat team about to blow up the animals, so all those scenes to build that relationship was pointless. After 10 seconds of the initial main dialogue between those too, we got the gist. Yes, raptor guy loves the animals. Yes, fat security guy is a duplicitous mercenary. We get it!

Except, on second viewing, all that dialogue made sense, and the wrestle between an “asset” and an “animal” brought a strong emotional sense to the film, which was played out most dramatically with the scene of the dead apatosaurus. Ingen were also interested in using the raptors as military, and much of the genetic experimentation with the dinosaurs had the dual purpose of not just a better park, it was also for a new breed of futuristic soldiers. I’m still unsure how a raptor would stop someone with an RPG aimed at it. Possibly they’d be restricted to jungle warfare, not clearing out terrorist strongholds in downtown Fallujah. Maybe the next movie in the series will be Jurassic Rambo, or Alien vs Velociraptor.

The only real dopey bit was the secrecy about the genetic source used in the I-Rex. They revealed T-Rex as the main source, and then revealed the modern animal sources once the other ghastly traits like camouflage and moderating its body temperature became known. One look at it with its jaw and, especially, front claws, it was immediately obvious that Velociraptor was the other main – and most dangerous – genetic source kept “classified”. That the raptor trainer himself could not even work this out until the raptors and I-Rex eventually met was even more silly. Speaking of training raptors, that tested the realm of credible belief. By the film’s end, you were convinced.

The I-Rex clawing out its transponder was odd; how about place it in a spot out of reach? There was also a great degree of violence in the film. Nothing gory, just unsettling. Not so much the humans being killed (well, except for the kids’ chaperone, that was unfair), it was that so many pterosaurs were shot out of the sky. Come on, they were just out for some fun, and didn’t even get to pick of any of the swat team shooting at them! Also sad was the forlorn fight of the ankylosaurus against the I-Rex and, obviously saddest of all, the scene of the dead apatosaurus herd.

There’s a bit conjecture in the dinosaur community whether T-Rex was a vicious hunter or more a scavenger. Its tiny claws are useless in a fight, so it’s difficult to rationalise an animal that would fight another species by just using its mouth. Such possible absurdity was illustrated in the fight scene with the I-Rex, where the I-Rex had its big claws and mouth as an advantage against a T-Rex relying solely on its mouth. Even against, say, a plant-eater like Ankylosaurus, could a T-Rex really succeed by just chomping away? It makes you wonder.

The highlight along with the adorable velociraptors was seeing the tyrannosaurus again. I’d actually forgotten she appeared earlier in the movie, so when she was summoned to save the day, it was a great surprise. It was like a Rocky movie sequel, being old and retired, yet still able to help save the day. The only more exciting hero reprisal in movie history was finally seeing Yoda fighting in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones!

Summary

Some will find the early part slow. There’s nothing that can be done here, with filmmakers eternally hamstrung when developing characters by the variable attention spans and comprehension capacities of the individual movie goer. On reflection, on the second viewing, it proved fine and almost essential to telling the complete story. My instinct on the first viewing was a 6/10 (good) and the third best of the series after JP1 & JP2, with possibly an 8 (excellent) with a better edit. On second viewing, it’s definitely excellent (8), and bordering on outstanding (9), and clearly the second best of the series.

Nothing will beat the first Jurassic Park simply for the suspense and sheer novelty of it. Jurassic World combines much that made that great with some great new dinosaurs, a “fully fleshed” theme park, brilliant effects, nice comedic touches and an exciting and action-packed plot. Best of all, this film fully restored as central focus the rightful stars of these movies: the dinosaurs!

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