Saturday, December 26, 2015

Jurassic World: Nostalgic Entertainment

If you loved Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is certain to entertain you. It is emphatically and unapologetically a nostalgic reboot of a beloved franchise. It follows all the familiar tropes and features characters that are all doing what they're supposed to as prescribed by Hollywood. And it's a formula that makes for two hours of fun mindless entertainment.

Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire Dearing, the park operations manager of Jurassic World, a theme park that has been opened on Isla Nublar after all the horrors of the original Jurassic Park. The team have learned from their mistakes and this new park feels like Disney World - it is carefully curated to maximize the tourists' exposure to these prehistoric creatures, while keeping the dinosaurs carefully controlled according to their level of danger. Chris Pratt plays Owen Grady, a Navy veteran who is part of a research project to train the park's Velociraptors. He develops a reputation as a raptor whisperer, serving as the "alpha" who can get the beasts to follow his lead. However, while he thinks he is engaging in a simple study to understand these creatures, it is actually part of a much more nefarious plan.

In the meantime, attendance at Jurassic World is down, so the geneticists have developed a new hybrid dinosaur called the Indominus Rex. We arrive at a weekend when Claire has to juggle wooing investors with the thoughts of the money they will make when tourists come flocking to see the new attraction, and babysitting her two nephews who have come to visit her for a vacation. Of course, Claire is a woman with an Anna Wintour bob, attired in a white suit and spiky stilettos, so we know she can't deal with children. She sends them off with VIP passes to tour the park, but a short while later, she will have to team up with Owen to rescue her nephews as they end up lost in the park with a bloodthirsty Indominus Rex on the rampage. You can't complain that's a spoiler - what else did you expect from this movie?

Pratt is always a joy to watch and Howard gamely holds her own as they trample through Jurassic World trying to dodge dinosaurs and rescue the moppets. Irrfan Khan also has a surprising but welcome turn as Simon Masrani, the billionaire owner of the park, who tries to do some good when the bad guys reveal their motives for wreaking havoc across the park. Obviously it is 2015, so the special effects are fantastic, and the dinosaurs are as wonderful and varied as you would want them to be. And despite the high-stakes action and drama, the movie doesn't forget to give you some jokes and lighten the tension whenever possible.

Jurassic World is certainly epic in scope, and the latter half of the movie amasses quite an impressive death toll. However, at its core, it is a supremely fun movie, a thrilling adventure that is comforting in its predictability while still subverting some tropes. Deftly directed by Colin Trevorrow, this film doesn't take itself too seriously, and is a loving homage to everything that made the original movie such a pleasure to watch. None of the characters feel fully fleshed out, and the plot certainly leaps about with abandon, but who cares? We have fights featuring raptors and the beloved T. rex, pterodactyls swooping in from the sky, and some pulse-pounding action sequences punctuated with witty banter. It's simply a joy to watch. 

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