Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow, 2015)

Like many of my co-generational peers, Jurassic Park was and still is a stellar source of cinematic wonderment. I personally credit Spielberg’s original film with my earliest memories of fondness of the medium, the dinosaurs and corresponding visual spectacle serving as icing on the cake as I steadfastly wore out my VHS copy of the film. Barely impressed by its immediate successor and even less so by a largely panned and considerably wacky third installment, the law of diminishing returns appeared to have taken its toll until this present era of nostalgia pandering reared its ugly head once more.

For the uninformed, Jurassic World is meant to be a sort of direct sequel to the 1993 original film by way of concept as the titular theme park finds continued success on the same island, of which exists directly adjacent to the ill-fated original site. Managed by archetypal workaholic Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park and its biologically engineered main attractions are subjected to a risky revitalization effort in the form of a fully-spliced new specimen – the Indominus Rex. When said experiment predictably goes tits-up, Claire, her visiting nephews and Naval engineer-turned-raptor whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) are thrust into the thick of a rapidly escalating bout for survival among thousands of similarly affected visitors.

As it inevitably employs callbacks akin to what one could and should expect of such a sequel, a reworking of John Williams’ instantly recognizable score and the like remain unavoidably omnipresent but mostly non-oppressive. Instead, Jurassic World‘s needless existence is constantly hammered home as a bulk of the proceedings do little to illustrate just how ignorant and generally incompetent nearly all of its key characters are. Not only do the proceedings lack palpable heft – the ethical arguments over dino rights ring as dated as ever – but the events that occur reek of base-level human ignorance throughout the central desperate bid to maintain affluence through reinvigorated public turnout.

Barring the inconsequential stupidity of sparse side exposition, the most head-scratching of which exists in the form of Zach and Gray’s parents’ impending divorce, the sheer beauty of the fictional Isla Nublar and its corporate-peppered tourist trap is one very well-realized slice of world building. Every nook of this space is developed with an attention to detail that’s alternately arresting and timely by way of product placement, however it’s all rendered negligible as absurdity in the form of intended raptor militarization serves to merely thicken the otherwise one-note conflict. All things considered, Trevorrow navigates questionable creative choices to middling aplomb, a particularly out-of-hand sequence involving a destroyed aviary punctuating what’s largely mundane blockbuster fare.

Jurassic World is at its best a needless slice of big-budget nostalgia pandering. In entirely lacking humanity throughout an unfailingly shaky script penned by four collaborators, we’re left with nothing remarkable outside of a lovingly crafted tourist trap and basal commentary on the perils of greed in an increasingly consumerist society. The visual spectacle is in tact and indicative of 2015 benchmark standards, yet redemption remains lost on the pratfalls coinciding with an overbearing adherence to the original film’s formula and subsequent draw. All told, Jurassic World is a presumably high-grossing blockbuster that’s telling of obvious studio motives and the public’s peculiarly sustained interest in revisiting well-worn franchise legacies.

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