Jurassic World: A Lizard Worshipper’s Dream

You could feel the anticipation building and filling the room as crowds of people flooded in. Everyone loud and rambunctious, discussing their hopes and fears about what we were all about to see.

Or maybe that was just me. Shouting to every person sitting near me “ARE YOU EXCITED I’M SO EXCITED, I CAN’T WAIT, ARE YOU A BIG FAN, I’M SO EXCITED”. My feet tapping uncontrollably, my heart thumping out of my chest, eyes darting from side to side of the immense IMAX screen. Safe to say I was a most irritating cinema companion.

But we have all waited a long times for this. Now it’s judgement day. Was it all worth it?

Time seemed to move slower than ever, 20 minutes until it starts.

An hour later and it is still 10 minutes to go.

I cannot wait. My energy builds. My inner lizard screaming out, calling to its giant reptile friends, soon to be on screen. When suddenly; silence, darkness, beginning. I could no longer move or speak (or breath).

“No one’s impressed with dinosaurs anymore,” Claire bluntly claims when explaining the need for gene mutation to create a new super-monster-dinosaur-hybrid to be the new feature attractive in the now fully imagined dino-theme park. Purists might not like it, and ex-Navy and velociraptor trainer Owen certainly doesn’t. But I believe John Hammond would, which fills me with a familiar bubby feeling, because as we and he alike both know, things never go well when you start playing God.

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The whole spiel of this film is that the velociraptors can now be trained, by their ‘alpha’ played by the bronzed and burly Chris Pratt, who quite obviously predicts that genetically modifying a dinosaur supposedly bigger than a T-Rex and keeping it in confined captivity will not turn out too well for all these thousands of people at the park. But they gotta make the big bucks ya know. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t exactly go to plan (you’d think they’d have learnt?!). JURASSIC WORLD follows Michael Crichton’s original idea of a corporate vacation destination gone very very wrong, and explodes it into new unpredictable lengths.

There was certainly a lack in character development (which I will get to later) but I think this only led to the heightened importance of the dinosaurs, which are and should be the starring role of the film. The raptors in particular were probably the most advanced personalities in the whole film. Playing the role of frightened children are Gray and Zach, Claire’s estranged nephews who have come to visit the park and get caught up in a whole lot of trouble when they decide to peruse beyond the perimeters. There’s chasing, explosions, and fantastic effects using a mixture of animatronics and CGI to create the most realistic dinosaurs we have ever seen on screen. The script was rather simple, with lines borrowed from any other disaster movie – “Is that what I think it is?!” “You betcha” etc – it was playing up its stereotype whilst giving cheeky winks to the original series of films. It was all a bit tongue in cheek, and if you make sure to take it that way you will not be put off. There are also so many references and Easter eggs to the original franchise that true fans will enjoy, but newbies to the series can love this film as a standalone.

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Claire was an interesting role, because she comes across as quite weak for most of the film, obeying Owen’s every command, scared, crying. Throughout I was thinking ‘when is she going to do it?’ Stop being the damsel, stop following every order Action Man gives you. Thankfully by the end she is a full on badass , all the while wearing 4 inch heels with her fringe perfectly in tact (to which I can attest is incredibly unrealistic and impossible #hairenvy). Bryce Dallas Howard played it well, I think, considering what she was given to work with. Pratt was the perfect strong hero, and supporting cast Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus were excellent.

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Trevorrow has said that at first these characters are intentionally presented as archetypes in order to break them, and change people’s perceptions. Now I can understand this point in reference to Claire. She starts off as an ice maiden (in head to toe white and a deathly sharp bob), but slowly melts into the hero she is painted as by the end. However it is still quite a disappointing female role when you compare her to Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Satter, a really rounded character – Claire just seems a bit silly. I really do think her haircut had a lot to do with that as well. And speaking of the original, what made Dr. Grant such an endearing leading man was that he wasn’t a super hero, he was just a scientist, he wasn’t wholly likable and he was certainly not very strong or protective (at first, obviously he softened and is awesome and we love him shhh). Chris Pratt’s Owen fails to grow, or change, or give us a different facial expression. He is an All American Hero from start to finish, which was a little disappointing. With his gun and his leather vest they may as well have given him a rope and some cowboy boots and put him up against John Wayne, once again fulfilling the American trope. This became a little repetitive. It was quite clear that character development was put behind action sequences in the filmmakers eyes. Even the young brothers were fairly replaceable with any dinosaur loving young boy and disgruntled teenager.

But I literally do not care.

Because as soon as John Williams score came on and the camera panned over the luscious greenery of the now pimped-up Isla Nubar I was willing to forgive any character or script flaws. In every possible way this new reinvention of the franchise was “bigger, scarier, cooler” – it just wasn’t better. And that’s ok. The original film was so crazy good, even to this day I watch it and I think of how amazing it looks, how well it has aged, and how much it still thrills me. I hear that song and I get shivers. If we take this film at face value – a great summer blockbuster, incredible visual effects, and a really respectful homage to the Spielberg and Michael Crichton classic – then it’s a sure-fire winner.

It wasn’t very ladies, but it sure was lizardy. And that is what we all wanted.

When deciding what to rate this film I was at a loss. It was certainly unmissable, and the subject surely permits me to rate it DINOSAUR. But I would be lying if I said it was a 5/5. That being said it was incredibly enjoyable and if you are a fan of the first franchise, and enjoy massively impressive special effects (or any reptilian themed films as we do) you should go see this film. 

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