Fourteen years after Jurassic Park III’s release effectively killed off the franchise, Jurassic World brings a much more grounded, enthusiastic vision of a dinosaur park away from the increasingly disconnected vision of the previous film. It mirrors a lot of parallels to the original Jurassic Park but it just doesn’t quite hold the same wow factor the original achieved. There’s some new ideas here to help bring Spielberg’s dinosaur vision to life but its not perfect; for all of its shiny modernisation its still essentially the same film repackaged to a new audience.
The story, set 22 years after the events of the original Jurassic Park, see the fragments of the original park now repackaged and rebuilt as a fully working dinosaur park. Much like the original Jurassic Park films, visitor rates for the once bustling park are dwindling. In order to bring visitors back, the board decide to create a brand new hybrid creature taking the “best” (see: most dangerous) traits and combining them to create one massive behemoth. Predictably, it breaks free of its cage and ends up unleashed on the unsuspecting park guests. Its then up to raptor-whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt) and his dinosaur expertise to stop the dino before it destroys everything in its sight.
From the opening scenes showing the park guests entering through a large door bearing the park name to the climactic battle at the end, Jurassic World intentionally places more than one set piece that mirrors the original film. At times it works well, especially the park door opening, accompanied by a long, sweeping shot of the park. Its during these moments that you see John Hammond’s original vision brought to life as dinosaurs are ogled over and countless fans snap pictures on their phones. These eerily surreal scenes mirror that of our own world; seeing a giant dinosaur soak joyous fans in a glass tank bears more than one similarity to our own theme parks like Seaworld. The problem comes from the sheer number of nods to the original film. A few would have been okay but the entire film is full of references and familiar scenes redone to a new audience. In doing this, it cheapens Jurassic World and makes it feel like a carbon copy of the original rather than a brand new film.
The characters do play second fiddle to the main attraction, the dinosaurs, and aside from Owen most of the characters are largely forgettable. Owen#s character is interesting, with his own parallels to that of Alan Grant in the previous films. His relationship with three raptors whom he’s managed to gain the trust of brings an interesting dynamic to the film that has a pretty satisfying conclusion.
The only other prevalent character arc is with the park’s workaholic head operator Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) forced to look after her two nephews Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins). As the story progresses we do see her relationship change toward the kids but it all feels a little too formulaic and cliched – Jurassic World is simply content being a good action flick that plays it safe without too many surprises.
Despite its glaring similarities to the original Jurassic Park film, right down to some key set pieces ripped straight from Jurassic Park and put here, Jurassic World is still worth a watch. Even if it does lack the wow factor the original nailed, its opening scenes showing the new park are among one of the stand out moments here. It does settle into a generic action rhythm and for all the outstanding visuals and dinosaur action, there isn’t really anything here that hasn’t been done before. Jurassic World doesn’t break any new ground but it does repackage the original in a shiny new skin but with less memorable characters. It certainly doesn’t achieve anywhere near the majesty the original film achieves but Jurassic World does try to instil some of the magic lost with its sequels.