Jurassic World – fan fiction spared no expense.

Jurassic-World-Poster

There are many moments in Jurassic World that nod back to Jurassic Park, but one moment in particular made me feel like I was 7 years old again. Towards the end of the movie, the savage genetically engineered Indominus ‘not a real dinosaur’ Rex is fighting off Chris Pratt’s raptor squad and it’s just not working. They need more teeth. And so Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Claire, runs off to bring in some much needed reinforcement. We all know where she is heading of course, the film has been teasing the reappearance of a certain tyrant lizard since the very beginning.

Claire stands in front of the paddock’s gates as her token computer geek tries to talk her out of her crazy plan. She shouts at him demanding he ‘be a man’ and open the gates and so the computer geek reluctantly opens the gates, staring hopelessly at the security feed to see what happens next. The music goes all abrasive with sharp metallic clanks, stabbing blasts of brass and stirring strings. Demonic Return of the Jedi styled final battle choirs murmur in anticipation as Claire lights a single red flare as the doors open. A look of equal horror and wonder appear across her face as the paddock doors open

channelling her inner Ellie Sattler

The music finally lifts and gains form, the melody sounds as if heralding the arrival of an elder sage. We see into the paddock, and from out of the darkness she appears, eyes reflecting the red light. The music crescendos into the familiar tones of John Williams Jurassic Park theme and she strides out of her paddock and into action.

The T-Rex is back baby and she’s glorious.

Naturally, I whooped and cheered. I may even have got a little emotional at seeing her again. You have to understand, I’m a big Jurassic Park fan. Sure I’m a fan of other movies and cinema in general, but Jurassic Park is a big deal and it’s been 14 years since Jurassic Park III misfired at cinemas. The movie where the T-Rex was last seen getting it’s neck unceremoniously snapped by the Spinosaur within two minutes of screen time. A difficult sequence for any self respecting JP fan to watch. Fans are still angry about that one…

And so in Jurassic World, Claire is luring the T-Rex out into battle. In the foreground, the high heels she has been wearing throughout the entire film are juxtaposed with the gigantic T-Rex feet giving chase in the background. The self-perceived queen of Jurassic World who was once so focused on control the dinosaurs as assets is making the last ditch attempt to restore order to Jurassic World by unleashing the real queen of the island. She’s not just a T-Rex, she’s the T-Rex from the original movie. She still has the scars from her raptor tustle from that heady summer of 1993, when dinosaurs last ruled the earth.

Claire throws the flare at the Indominus Rex who suddenly realises what’s coming. The T-Rex smashes through the display of the spinosaur skeleton, demolishing it as if it were made of matchsticks. Payback for Jurassic Park III. She does the roar. That glorious elephantine roar that is one of the best sound effects of modern movie history. It’s beautiful.

Yes.

Jurassic World does a lot of things right and I left the cinema as if my mind had been exorcised of all the stress of real life. Judging by how well the film is doing at the box office, it feels similar to the time in which the first Jurassic Park came out and unleashed dino-mania upon the world.

At the same time, after a few days the critical faculties began whirring and I came back down to earth and began to contemplate the movie a bit more seriously. My feeling is that Jurassic World is a solid tribute to Jurassic Park, in some ways it is the most elaborate piece of fan fiction ever made. Spared no expense of course.

It’s the kind of story that delivered on all the beats that fans would expect and have been listing in internet forums ever since the internet began. A working fully operational version of John Hammond’s dream? Check. The gradual build up towards the traditional Jurassic Park theme music? Check. The helicopter rides through evergreen tropical island valleys? Check. A visit to the crumbling ruins of the old visitor centre? Check. Raptors running out in the open at cheetah speeds? Check. And finally, the triumphant homecoming for Rexey – reinstated as the ruler of Isla Nublar. Check.

Jurassic World had all this, and it left me giddy but at the same time nothing truly surprised me.

This is perhaps inevitable, Jurassic park pushed the cinematic frontiers in bringing dinosaurs to the big screen with its state of the art computer graphics. Jurassic Park provided something cinema audiences had never seen before. There is no going back after a film like Jurassic Park. Nothing will compare to the first time you saw it.

Spielberg’s 1993 classic dabbled in a story that explored the moral dilemma of rampant unchecked scientific exploration, about scientists discovering a way to bring back dinosaurs back from extinction without a thought for the consequences or the backlash from mother nature. Michael Crichton explained that the dinosaurs were revived by harvesting the DNA from the blood contained within mosquitos who had been preserved in fossilised amber, but the film makers were bringing back dinosaurs from new leaps in computer generated effects and grand life size animatronic dinosaur models. It’s an instance of the story and the techniques issued to tell the story are quite similar. Computer effects have since run rampant in modern cinema and become more commonplace.

There are some critics who decry computer effects as the death knell of cinema. I don’t really believe this myself, at the start of the year I found myself in awe of films like Birdman, Whiplash and Nightcrawler, smaller artier films that had much less to do with computer effects and instead relied on conventional storytelling and spellbinding performances. Other films like Ex Machina blend computer effects so seamlessly, they are no longer the main event of the movie and exist simply to serve the story itself. At the same time, the critics may have a point, especially in regards to popular mainstream cinema. We’ve had Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Pixar. It is now possible to bring the impossible to life on the big screen. It is relatively easy to make the unbelievable believable. Sometimes it seems as if there are no new frontiers for cinema left to explore anymore. No film will replicate the magic of seeing Jurassic Park for the first time.

This is the problem that any sequel will have to deal with. How do you realistically follow Jurassic Park in the modern age?

The premise of Jurassic World begins to address this head on. What do you do when a fictional market has grown used to reality where dinosaurs are roaming the earth in a specially designed theme park. What happens when people inevitably become bored of the miraculous? How do you sustain the wonder? How can you make people fall in love with dinosaurs again?

Jurassic World is set 22 years after the original movie. Returning to the tropical island setting of Isla Nublar, John Hammond’s dream of a grand biological preserve has been fully realised and safely opened to the public becoming one of the world’s foremost tourist attraction. After the frequent failures of original park owners Ingen, the company and its assets have been brought out by a new conglomerate by the name of Masrani. Jurassic Park has been rebranded as Jurassic World, and the famous gates from the remains of the old park have been re-purposed and hoisted into the treeline welcoming all inbound guests arriving via monorail.

_1416765491

We see the park through the eyes of the film’s token child pairing. Gray (Ty Simpkins) and his older brother Zack (Nick Robinson) are sent to the island whilst their parents deal with a separation. Their aunt, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) happens to be one of the park’s chief administrators in charge of implementing new attractions and generally making sure the Jurassic World keeps turning, so the kids essentially have VIP access to the park.

The design of the park has moved on in accordance with modern technology. Gone are all the electrical fences and automated jungle explorers that were once so jazzy in the early 90s. Technology has advanced to implement new and sleeker means of bringing tourists face to face with living breathing dinosaurs. You have the gyrospheres, a cross between a go-kart and a hamster ball that allows tourists to drive in and around the giant herbivores. You have baby dinosaur petting zoos and the sea world inspired Mosasaur feeding show. The park has been operational without incident for over a decade, with business spiking each time a big new fearsome dinosaur is introduced.

For those first twenty minutes of the movie, you are seeing the park in full motion and in some ways I wanted to stay there. I wanted to have my guided tour around the island and learn all the things about the dinosaurs. I wanted to see the movie about the jaded Vice gonzo journalist sent on a drink fuelled assignment to write a headlining feature about the park only to discover that the rampant forces of mainstream tourism have taken the magic out of the spectacle. Unfortunately, as this is a movie costing over $100M, things must quickly turn burn.

“Ooh… Aah… that’s how it always starts. But later there’s running and screaming.” As I believe a great man once said.

With the ‘market’ grown used to the process of ‘de-extinction’, the public’s hunger for new and more formidable exhibits is palpable. This leads the park to unveil it’s first genetically engineered hybrid dinosaur. Taking the base genome of a T-Rex, the scientists have spliced in other species of dinosaurs and other deadly creatures, to create an unholy cocktail of teeth and ferocity. Naturally before they even know what they have, they patent it as the ‘Indominus Rex’, package it with a corporate sponsor (Verizon Wireless), and slap it on a plastic lunchbox.

The Indominus Rex is born out of that desire for that bigger, better, more badass ideal that drives corporations and consumers alike. The fact that Jurassic World is doing this as a big Hollywood blockbuster, a bigger and badder version of the original movie, does make it potentially subversive. Unfortunately, the movie’s overall message could be read as a calculative move to reject new coke and just go with original classic coke instead. The Indominus Rex is not a real dinosaur, and it’s up to the real dinosaurs of Jurassic World to save the day.

The Indominus Rex is just the first of many bad ideas happening in Jurassic World.

The second bad idea involves the Velociraptors, four of which are being trained by Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). The raptors have traditionally been reserved for the third act confrontation in the first two Jurassic Park films and have existed to terrorise in the ways the T-Rex couldn’t. In Jurassic World, they’ve employed an approach that feels more like Star Trek in design, where man is attempting to train and communicate them rather than just sticking them in a heavily fortified enclosure. With each Star Trek series, the villainous race of the previous series inevitably makes it on to the bridge as part of the Enterprise’s crew.

This isn’t to say that the raptors are tame by any means. They are still wild unpredictable animals as evidenced by the scene in which Owen must enter their paddock after a hapless worker falls into the pen. The training is there but the results are not. Despite this, his progress is being monitored greedily by Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’onofrio) who is interested in employing raptors in combat zones as trained soldiers. By his reasoning, drones aren’t effective enough as pure killing machines. But a squad of hungry velociraptors he illusions would be perfect for some of the world’s more entrenched warzones. There is a conversation early on about militarising raptors, and the whole idea is just insane.

Inevitably, elementary chaos effect takes effect as the big Indominus Rex breaks loose from its enclosure and starts causing havoc around the park. Teaming up with Owen, Claire must ensure her nephew’s safety and the lives of the 20,000 tourists stranded on the island.

Once the shit hits the fan, Jurassic World begins to emulate Aliens, with heavily armed teams of soldiers preparing for combat only to be thoroughly overwhelmed by the prehistoric assets they fatally underestimate. There is the scene in which they lock and load their weapons before heading out in their heavily armoured APCs. There is the bit where they attempt to track the beast through motion tracking hardware. There is the scene where, despite all their weapons, they get killed off one by one. This was perhaps the logical progression for a Jurassic Park movie to take, movie logic dictates that the more clueless soldiers you have with guns, the more bodies you have who are rife for chomping. In terms of dino carnage, the body count of Jurassic World exceeds the first three films by quite a large margin.

So many people die in this movie. 

Yet you think back to Spielberg’s original sequel, The Lost World, in which a legion of heavily armed hunters descend on the dinosaur island to roundup specimens to be taken back to the mainland. It wasn’t quite as excessive in it’s body count but you remember certain moments of that movie. You think of the set piece in which Julianne Moore is splayed out across a pane of glass above a 300 ft cliff, the glass cracking underneath her fingertips as she struggles to move. You think of the sight of the raptors pacing through the long grass in mass after the oblivious hunters. There is nothing in Jurassic World that has that same kind of tension or magic. And we’re not even talking about some of the scenes from the original Jurassic Park – the T-Rex attack or the raptors in the kitchen.

Jurassic World is however much more darker than the previous movies in tone. It’s the first film of the franchise to be certified as a 12A. I was terrified when I first saw Jurassic Park in 1993 as a child, I can’t imagine what Jurassic World would be like for today’s 7 year old. It further asks the question whether this film being made for kids or the 20-30 year old Jurassic Park fans like myself?

A standout scene involves one unlucky woman getting grabbed by a pteradon only to be dropped into the Mosasaur tank. The pteradons dive in after her like seagulls into a fishing frenzy spearing and drowning her until the Mosasaur breaches the surface and eats them both alive. A needlessly bad way to go but the collective audience wince in the theatre was priceless. Zara the British nanny, bestowed the worst death in any Jurassic Park movie ever.

This isn’t to say that the film is devoid of slower moments. In the beginning there are plenty of moments in which to indulge in the majesty of the gentler dinosaurs. Then you have the scene with the dying Apatosaur. Initially it’s quite reminiscent of the sick Triceratops scene, in which you had this giant majestic creature pathetically incapacitated by her modern environment. However, instead of the wonder experienced in that original scene, Jurassic World’s iteration is a whole lot sadder with Owen trying to comfort the gigantic dying creature with the brain the size of a walnut. Then we pan out from the single dead dinosaur and see a field of dead Apatosaurs all killed by the Indominus Rex. It is grim.

The death of littlefoot’s mother in The Land Before Time hasn’t got anything on this…

The Indominus Rex is a piece of work. Once again, in the spirit of fan fiction it includes all the best elements of the old favourite dinosaurs, the size of a T-Rex and the intelligence of a velociraptor along with a number of additional abilities that make it even deadlier. It has developed forearms with four claws and a snake like jaw that allows it to open it’s jaws over 90 degrees. To top it all off, the creature is albino, administering an element of freakishness to the creature’s overall deadliness. It reminded me of the chapter in Moby Dick, in which Herman Melville endeavours to explain the acute sense of terror accrued from ‘whiteness’.

In prior Jurassic Park movies the dinosaurs are usually treated as animals with possible exception to the velociraptors. The traditional dinosaurs are rarely perceived as actual villains with evil intent, they’re more fearsome creatures looking for something to eat. From the opening sequence, in which we witness the birth of the hybrid creature there is no doubt that it is supposed to be the dino-antichrist, with blood red eyes already eyeing up it’s newborn sibling as it’s first meal.

Cool therapods don’t looks at explosions.

The abomination must die, which allows the old guard of dinosaurs to take on more heroic dimensions. I’ve already waxed lyrical about the T-Rex. Being the original saviour from the first film, she was obviously going to to return to save the day. The Velociraptors on the other hand are a bit more complicated.

There are four Raptors in Jurassic World – Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo. We already know what the raptors are capable of and even in Jurassic World we can see that they are a looong way from being tamed. Which is why the whole theoretical plan to even consider them for military service is pants on head retarded and the actual plan to ‘field test’ them to track down the Indominus Rex is so dumb I was shaking my head even during the admittedly kickass moneyshot when Chris Pratt gets to ride his motorcycle alongside his raptor posse. When they do track down the iRex, it is revealed that she is also part raptor and so can converse with the pack and turn them against their human allies.

As with before, the presence of so many expendable Ingen grunts is there to fulfil the Aliens styled template of full on raptor rampage. We’ve seen them searching kitchens and being kicked out of windows by amateur gymnasts, but we’ve never properly seen them running out in the open hunting as a pack. It’s all part of the fan service smorgasbord Jurassic World serves up.

The raptor betrayal happens so quickly but then almost immediately goes back to normal, once they realise they actually do like Chris Pratt’s character.

They already figured out how to open doors… Next they will figure out how to ride sick ass motorcycles.

Jurassic Park has always been more about the dinosaurs, and the sheer spectacle of seeing these creatures on the screen. That said, the human characters were never sidelined (at least not in Spielberg’s films) they always had an arc, whether it was Grant’s gradual acceptance of kids, or Hammond accepting the bitter weight of his own hubris. The human cast of Jurassic World aren’t the most complex of characters, but they still serve the storyline well, at least for the most part.

Chris Pratt is a dependable leading man, whilst his turn as Starlord in last year’s Guardian of the Galaxy had elements of a clumsy glam rock Indiana Jones, Owen in Jurassic World has far more of the stoic ruggedness of Harrison Ford. He doesn’t smile much, accept in one particular instance when he realises the inherent awesomeness of riding his motorcycle with the raptor pack.

Bryce Dallas Howard similarly shines as Claire as the true lead of the picture. During the pre-release of the movie, there was much internet discussion about her character being sexist, a corporate shrewd shirking of Chris Pratt’s masculine brawn with his own rather obvious romantic gestures.

Claire easily has the best arc in the film. She starts off as a kind of proto John Hammond, dressed all in white concerned with nothing more than profit and data. She is a career woman who is somewhat chastised for shunning a more domesticated life, but she’s running Jurassic World full time – 10 years without incident! Nice going! She should be given an award. Her biggest flaw is that she can’t identify with the dinosaurs being animals and refers to them robotically as assets. This carries on to her personal life with her awkwardness in spending quality time with her nephews. Throughout the course of the film she transforms and very much like Laura Dern’s character of Dr Sattler in the first movie she is the one woman to restore order to Jurassic Park (admittedly by letting out the T-Rex, but still!).

There has been a lot of criticism surrounding Claire, in that the story demands that she drop her personna as a successful business woman to accept a more domestic role, to fulfil her romantic life with Owen and accept her nephews so she is in a more comfortable position to have her own family. Others have complained about the fact that she wears high heels throughout the entire movie. I think it’s a case of the one female character being all things to all people, which is always going to lead to bitter internet discussion.

I believe the romance between the two was nicely played also. We’ve never really seen a full blown romance in a Jurassic Park movie. Grant and Ellie’s relationship was kept very ambiguous and understated in the first movie, whilst Malcolm lost his womanising spirit and became something of a massive worry wart in The Lost World. Owen and Claire are effectively Bogart and Hepburn in the African Queen or Han and Leia in Empire Strikes Back, two polar opposites who are denying their true affections for one another. In some ways Jurassic World is all about falling in love with dinosaurs all over again so what’s wrong with having a generic good looking couple come together to capitalise on all the wide eyed romantic energy?

Elsewhere you have BD Wong as Dr Henry Wu, the only returning character from the first movie. Wu was always a larger character in Michael Crichton’s novel than he was in that one scene in the original movie. Wu has since been promoted with the success of Jurassic Park and is all turtle necked up with a creepier Dr Frankenstein styled hubris. Though his screentime is limited, he does get a couple of nice dialogue scenes in which he justifies his efforts in creating a monster.

“Monster is a relative term. To a canary, a cat is a monster. We’re just used to being the cat…”

You can bet he will play a more prominent part in the inevitable sequel of course…

Dr-Henry-Wu

Irrfan Khan plays Simon Masrani, the CEO of the corporation that has taken over from Ingen. He is a likeable presence, that brings an eccentric Richard Branson styled energy to the Hammond template. He charismatically swaggers in aboard the helicopter he is learning to fly, telling everyone to lighten up and accept they have no control in their life. Of course when the park goes awry, he is the first to try and take control of the situation unwittingly getting himself killed in a helicopter crash that releases a flock of ravenous pteradons upon the island.

He is joined by Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus as the computer literate park admins. Johnson is basically a stand in for every Jurassic Park fan out there, wearing an original Jurassic Park T-shirt and decorating his work station with dinosaur toys. This guy is me. One of his lines asserts how ‘legit’ that first park was – the metaness is strong. Is he referring to the greatness of the failed theme park or the actual movie it appeared in? It feels like the latter.

Every Jurassic Park film has needed kids in it their respected castlines. The younger kid, Gray is played well by Ty Simpkins providing the youthful fascination with dinosaurs and the sadness over the oncoming split of his parents. His older brother, Zach played by Nick Robinson, is kind of a jerk, more concerned with exercising sociopathic tendencies in front of the opposite sex or his phone than seeing an actual T-Rex in the flesh. Whilst the whole parent’s divorce plot is a device to bring the two brothers together, it feels largely unnecessary, but then, divorce is kind of a hidden theme in the Jurassic Park movies.

Liking dinosaurs is inherently a childish thing. Oh sure, a grown adult can appreciate the majesty and mystery of these extinct animals, but it is kids who are the core link in terms of dino-appreciation. In some ways dinosaurs represent the impossible, brought back to life after 65 million years of extinction. Divorce on the other hand happens all too often and is difficult to deal with for some people. Whilst it may be possible to bring back dinosaurs in the fiction of Jurassic Park, getting two grown ups who have fallen out of love back together is virtually impossible. There is an element of the fantastical being a relief to the bitter truths of real life. The dinosaurs represent the base essence of nature devoid of the complexities of human life. There is escapism in their being.

As with Jurassic Park, World includes the coming together of a family unit.

As the internet will tell you, Vincent D’onofrio was brilliant as Walton Fisk in Marvel’s recent Daredevil series, a layered and complicated villain with a stilted way of speaking, doomed to spend his life staring at that cold and indifferent white wall. The character of Hoskins is betrayed by a dumb script and an unnecessary sequel baiting plotline. D’onofrio does at least get to ham up his performance, as the jingoistic military defence contractor. As Jurassic World is engulfed in chaos he can’t help but watch out over the park and grin like a loon. At the very least he is a guaranteed raptor kill to look forward to in the third act.

The characters are standard in Jurassic World, not as solid or nuanced as Spielberg but an effective counterweight to the main attractions.

On exiting the movie theatre once the credits roll, many of the people came out humming the Jurassic Park tune. I’m a sucker for a good musical score, (see my cinemental spotify playlist) and Jurassic Park has one of the best. The Jurassic World score by Michael Giacchino recycles many of the melodies from John Williams iconic score. As the kids first arrive on the island the familiar music starts to build and build before the main theme fully kicks in as the camera pans out over the park. Another helicopter ride across the island also has the main score kick in and it feels like putting on an old familiar jumper again. The score is so entrenched in the cultural mindset and effortlessly retains its power as a result.

At other points Giacchino even recycles music from The Lost World and if you want to get really nerdy he even references the orchestral soundtrack he wrote for The Lost World game during the raptor chase. This was of course Giacchino’s first gig in music composition. Only a few people will get that reference. That soundtrack was superb by the way, it did much to convey the different perspectives you played from throughout the game.

Again, it’s remixing the best elements of the first two movies which is sure to appeal to fans.

Giacchino does write his own original music to fit in with the familiar melodies. Giacchino wrote the music for the new Star Trek films, nearly every time the Enterprise pulls up in front of the camera in those movies, you get that heroic refrain that plays. Jurassic World has something similar, a slower grandiose fanfare that really emphasises the majesty of the dinosaurs. They are treated as returning heroes and the music very much feeds into it. There is something classical and old timey about the newer music, it exists somewhere between the magic of old Disney pictures and the epic cinema of Hollywood’s golden age. Meanwhile, some of the action sequences emulate a more rampant birdlike version of the Jaws theme. If there was any composer to replace John Williams, Giacchino is probably the guy most likely to carry the torch.

One of the reasons why Jurassic Park became such a classic was the revolution it provided in terms of cinematic special effects. Combining Stan Winston’s animatronic work with ILM’s computer work, dinosaurs had been brought back from extinction. To this day the effects of Jurassic Park have aged tremendously well. This is partly because CG was used sparingly, in total the actual dinosaur scenes only amounted to 15 minutes accumulatively but the film makers also knew when to use CG and when to rely on animatronics. There was a balance between the disciplines. A balance that is sadly no longer there in Jurassic World.

The CG effects are staggering in Jurassic World, but at the same time they are used in super over abundance. We see impossible things, Mosasaurs jumping out of the water to eat a great white shark, raptors running and jumping out in the wild. The T-Rex fighting the Indominus with a raptor hopping between the back of each… It’s the kind of movie that couldn’t exist without computer generated effects.

When the movie was in production, Colin Trevorrow stated that the movie would be using old school animatronics. There has been something of a resurgent movement in the use of practical effects in cinema as of late. Mad Max: Fury Road included a lot of practical effects to beguiling effect and the Fast and the Furious movies exercise an appreciation of old fashioned stunt work for it’s action scenes. JJ Abrams has utilised real sets for the new Star Wars film, avoiding the intangible green screen productions of the prequel trilogy. The animatronics in Jurassic World are there, but they are slight, the majority of shots are computer generated effects and sometimes they leave an empty feeling.

I opened this piece about how excited I was to see the T-Rex again, but on reflection – she isn’t really there. There is no animatronic Rex head in sight. She is a complete digital entity, added in post production. Though every frame must have been worked on meticulously, in the end, she isn’t there in the same way she was in the first Jurassic Park.

She may be a just robot but she’s tangible. She’s there!

The original T-Rex animatronic built by Stan Winston’s crew infamously had to go through a tortuous production process, as the model made mostly of clay was subjected to large volumes of water of which the scene demanded. She had to be towelled down in between each take so the water wouldn’t effect the internal electrics or warp the model’s delicate outer textures.

The result was magnificent of course. The T-Rex breakout scene is one of the greatest scenes in movie history. It doesn’t even need musical accompaniment from John Williams to add to it’s effectiveness. It’s a wonder to behold.

Perhaps building a brand new T-Rex for it’s modest 5 minutes of screen time in Jurassic World may have been too demanding on the film’s budget. For The Lost World, the two T-Rex animatronics were so big that each set had to be rebuilt around them. Doing things digitally offers a more cost efficient method of making these kinds of movies. When you have the resources to create these effects in reserve, why use practical effects ever again?

That said even Jurassic Park III utilised an animatronic T-Rex for it’s short onscreen life.

I can’t help but wonder what the late great Stan Winston would have made of Jurassic World. Despite all it’s flaws, Jurassic Park III effectively let the special effects team go nuts with the dinosaur effects. The result is a more seamless blend of CG and animatronics.

Look at this raptor for God’s sake. “When she looks at you, you can tell she’s working things out”. She’s calculating! She’s alive! She’s intimidating.

Perhaps I am just biased or stuck in my ways. There is a growing movement of movie makers and fans who chastise the growing dependence on digital technologies. I’m inclined to agree with them. That T-Rex head just had character in the way a full digital render just doesn’t. Echoing John Hammond’s recount of creating Jurassic Park in the first place, it was about creating something that’s not just an illusion, something that was real, something you can see and touch. Again the story of bringing back dinosaurs from the grave is in part of the process the film makers themselves are involved with in the making of the movie. At the end of the day we can argue that it’s all make believe, none of it is real in the grand scheme of things, but it’s an important difference between believing in it and just accepting it.

By the final sequence when the Indominus becomes Mosasaur chow, the old T-Rex faces Blue, the last remaining velociraptor. The two species fought against one another once upon a time, but now there is acceptance, and there is a rosy glint in Rexey’s eye, a Disney styled warmth she exudes before ambling off to take back her rightful place upon the Jurassic throne. It’s cheesey, sentimental and completely silly but it’s reliving the dreams of childhood. Complete fan service.

Could Spielberg, the master of cinematic sentimentality, have done it better? Probably, but I think Colin Trevorrow has proved a worthy successor. At it’s heart, I think Jurassic World despite it’s flaws is very old fashioned in what it sets out to do, it’s a romance through and through and aims to have you fall in love with dinosaurs all over again. It wants you to feel something. In this age of endless sequels, excessive disaster porn theatrics, internet fuelled memes, and sarcastic 140 character quips isn’t that a greater and more powerful endeavour?

If nothing else, Jurassic World proves that dinosaurs do still rule the earth.

All hail Rexey.

jurassic-park-when-dinosaurs-ruled

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *