Before 1993’s Jurassic Park, velociraptors were low down in the dinosaur pecking order. Most of us had barely heard of them, but inspired by new discoveries and cutting-edge research of the time, the Spielberg movie pushed the vicious little pack monsters into the limelight.
It’s shame that Jurassic World‘s producers didn’t also try to capture the latest research in that we now believe that most dinosaurs were feathered. The animals inhabiting the theme park are still shown just as they were twenty years ago. It’s a bit like future occupants of earth making a movie about our times with all the birds looking like a plucked turkey.
Likewise, the movie doesn’t really engage with current debate about how and when we should keep animals in captivity. The finest piece of animation is the aquatic Mososaur, a huge creature that lives a solitary existence in a glass tank. The Mososaur performs Sea World-esque shows for the public (although no one is insane enough to ride on its back) but not one character ever questions whether this is a right or wrong. With all the criticism floating about of this kind of attraction, for example, in the documentary Blackfish, this lack of ethical debate is a missed opportunity.
The movie also feels a bit Jurassic in its attitudes to male and female characters. There are very few of the latter and the two main victims-in-waiting this time around are a teenage pair of brothers. Jurassic Park had a brother and sister, which worked much better in terms of family entertainment. Don’t girls have the right to go on adventures too?
Those gripes aside, Jurassic World is a fun, all-action runabout. The dinosaurs slaughter characters pretty indiscriminately, and its always fun to see someone tumbling into a monster’s gaping maw.
The casting is also terrific, with Chris Pratt showing that he can be the Harrison Ford of his generation. After his great starring role in Guardians of the Galaxy, he once again shows his ironic sense of humour along with all the stunts and drama.
Jurassic World is top-notch family entertainment, but it also suffers from the same affliction that let down Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In both cases, a safe remake of one of the original films is being used as a way of re-energising interest in the brand. Both movies are thus the holotype from which future sequels will show some sort of differentiation.
The system clearly works, because both films were hits. It would be nice to see more original ideas, but we will have to wait for future films before we see anything really new. This is the triumph of Jurassic World, that it returned the investment, and ensured that those future films will actually get made.