[This review contains a few spoilers, but (as I come to explain) it was all so predictable it hardly matters]
I’m back in Sheffield, my first year of university is at an end, and I’m online, arranging a catch-up with my old school friends. The cheeky Nandos goes without saying. But what afterwards?
‘How about a film?’ someone asks. Mad Max immediately flashes into my mind – the smell of rubber flows into my nostrils, and the scorching heat of the desert sun scalds my back – but I don’t get to my computer in time to put forward my proposition before the treacherous words appear on screen – ‘Jurassic World?’ – soon followed by a whole host of approvals and agreements. I sigh…
With box office takings as massive as, well, an oversized dinosaur, I presumed Jurassic World was going to be awe-inspiring, inspirational, and thrilling, all at the same time. I don’t think I’ve actually seen Jurassic Park (for some unknown reason, presumably because my brother had liked it), so I had no idea what to expect – other than the dinosaurs. I hadn’t even realised there were two other films. But by the end of the film, I had an incredible clash of emotions. On the one hand, there was an undeniable, overwhelming disappointment. But on the other? I couldn’t stop laughing.
Jurassic World was the most cringeworthy film I’ve ever seen. Each line seemed more predictable than the last, even down to inconsequential scenes – like the moment Owen pointlessly decides to tell Claire to “stay in the car”, forcing her to get out of the vehicle immediately. The plot was just the same – that classic bad-guy-releases-monster-good-guy-saves-the-day story we all know and… love? The entire film felt as if a nervous golden retriever had been put on a giant Hollywood conveyor belt, pumped through the machine, and come out the other end a pristine, pampered poodle called Fido: presumably a male hero with a female love interest, which ends in a marriage – happily ever after. In other words, fat characters die after a short, humorous chase, the evil villain (who thinks velociraptors can be tamed) is killed by a velociraptor, and the male and female lead characters get together at the end – in a sickening silhouetted moment.
Then there was the product placement. In fairness, this mostly added to the amusement, as my friend and I couldn’t help but laugh when another brand jumped aboard. Mercedes, for example, comes off very well from the film, with extended scenes focusing completely on the beautiful cars as they speed through the jungle – visually reminiscent of every car advert ever. Perhaps surprisingly, all vehicles on the island are made by Mercedes: except presumably the ones which were destroyed, but of course you don’t see their logos. The Samsung Innovation Center was also a highlight, as were the Beats headphones in the opening scene. Other brands included Starbucks, Coca Cola, Verizon Wireless, Jurassic Park (no, seriously) – oh, and did I mention Mercedes?
I suppose I should speak about the actual plot too. It was definitely acceptable, but I personally found there were far too many similar-looking dinosaurs, which became very confusing. The clichés were painful of course, and so were the coincidences, especially the moment when the big, deadly dinosaur accidentally stops next to the aquatic enclosure where a bigger, deadlier dinosaur lives. Cue destruction. And the number of times a protagonist was easily within striking range of a carnivore and yet escaped unscathed was infuriating.
However, it wasn’t all awful. The visual effects were impressive, and of course this is arguably the most important feature of a Jurassic film. The dinosaurs are mostly believable, especially the small velociraptors which were up-close-and-personal and yet still impressively animalistic. Scientifically, however, I’m not so sure. A BBC article by Chi Chi Izundu points out that there have been huge leaps in the world of palaeontology recently – above all the discovery that dinosaurs would have had some feathers – but this was completely ignored by the producers.
Chris Pratt – one of my favourite new actors, and clearly a lively and humorous personality – was an impressive hero, but felt slightly tamed-down and held-back in his role as expert zookeeper Owen. Meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard gave a solid performance as park manager Claire, although why she didn’t swap her high heels for some sturdy trainers before sprinting across the entire island I will never know. From an acting point of view, however, I suppose this only makes her work even more impressive.
In conclusion, GO AND WATCH JURASSIC WORLD. Not because it’s a beautiful film, not because the plot’s any good, but because – quite simply – I was laughing out loud throughout. This is entertainment: pure, unadulterated, unashamed Hollywood, and you can hardly blame it for that.