“Jurassic World” Is A Crushing Disappointment

Colin Trevorrow’s addition to the Jurassic Park franchise is a bloated, superficial and uninspired effort by a director seemingly incapable of dramatic invention.

Jurassic World review - Top 10 FilmsI remember the awe that met Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur adventure Jurassic Park when I first witnessed it. It was blockbuster season 1993 and I was a pre-teen getting my first real taste of the big screen. I understood enough to know the story’s antagonists were a fictional realisation of the past; creatures long since dead and fossilised. But Spielberg, as is his way, makes the unbelievable believable. A mixture of brilliant animatronics and in-camera special effects with efficient use of state of the art computer animation brought John Hammond’s dino-world to life with a glowing sense of tangible authenticity.

The director also populated the drama with ordinary folk in extraordinary situations. Okay, okay, they were all bona fide geniuses, but even they had their distinctive flaws: Ian Malcolm, the staccato-worded, lanky nerd with a mathematician’s approach to flirting and Alan Grant with his phobia of children. There was something unheroic about our “heroes” – the personification of Chief Brody on Isla Nublar.

[Jurassic World’s] conception is horribly naïve, pandering to our appreciation of the franchise by insidiously branding a remake as a trumped up sequel.

Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, the latest addition to the franchise, is everything that Jurassic Park is not: bloated, superficial and uninspired. It’s the quick-fix Hollywood product, a commercial entity relying on past glories (and short term memories) to make a fast buck. It even uses a big star name – this time Guardians of the Galaxy’s Chris Pratt – to encourage audiences to experience cinematic sewerage. Its conception is also horribly naïve, pandering to our appreciation of the franchise by insidiously branding a remake as a trumped up sequel.

Jurassic World review - Top 10 Films

Don’t let anyone tell you differently, Jurassic World is the result of studio execs haggling over restarting a franchise 20 years after the original and trying to appease the majority who’d argue, quite rightly, Jurassic Park is remake-proof. By the looks of the film’s critical and box office performance, Trevorrow and gang have managed it; they’ve pulled the wool over our eyes.

The result is a mess; a stale cinematic experience lacking an original bone in its genetically engineered body. Like the creatures on show, Jurassic World is a copy of the past. The problem is, unlike the fact we weren’t around a gazillion years ago when the dinosaurs roamed, most of us were around in 1993 when Spielberg first took us on this ride.

We can’t possibly ignore the colossal stupidity of the people who populate this theme park – from the so-called genius biological engineers to the well-armed, presumably well-trained security force and even the big-money men who’ll put the bottom line ahead of their own vulnerable posterior.

Worst still, Trevorrow isn’t content picking the bits he wants to “homage” in Jurassic World, he’s more than happy nicking the ideas of his contemporaries. Whether that’s in the construction of an action scene (the security team’s vital signs diminishing ala Aliens; Bryce Dallas Howard’s velociraptor escape mimicking Raiders of the Lost Ark), a borrowed line (Pratt can’t deliver Michael Biehn’s anguished “it will absolutely not stop” dialogue from The Terminator half as well), themes (weaponising largely unchartered species for warfare ala Alien), or a nod to the videogame crowd (with head-mounted cameras giving us a first-person shooter).

Jurassic World review - Top 10 Films

Yet, it isn’t just Jurassic World’s stagnant execution that’s at fault. The plot is fundamentally flawed, its cavernous holes so monumental they’ll potentially invoke vertigo. For instance, I’m sure you’ll remember the destructive, predatory nature of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park? For World, Pratt’s zookeeper – an “expert” on the species apparently – has tamed four of these beasts, giving them names and treating them like pets. I wonder how those in the profession who deal with dangerous species like tigers and lions would look upon this “bond”? I’m guessing a raised eyebrow wouldn’t be the only reaction. Regardless of your appreciation of this interaction between man and beast, from a dramatic perspective it immediately saps these fascinating creatures of their mysterious, marauding might.

Okay, so let’s pretend to forget any issues we could possibly have with the realities of a working theme park on the original island where people were killed. Let’s not think about insurance problems, health and safety of the workforce, getting contractors to actually operate amidst dangerous species with a legacy of slaughter, or hiding past events from the public in order for them to flock in their thousands to enjoy the delights of an island where humans are usually on the menu. We’ll put that to one side. However, we can’t possibly ignore the colossal stupidity of the people who populate this theme park – from the so-called genius biological engineers to the well-armed, presumably well-trained security force and even the big-money men who’ll put the bottom line ahead of their own vulnerable posterior.

Trevorrow actually perfectly describes his film – and unwittingly reveals its own flaws – in a conversation he had with an Australian journalist when discussing the Indominus rex, a synthetic hybrid dinosaur designed to make the theme park more attractive to visitors who’ve grown tired (in less than ten years) of seeing actual, real life extinct species! Quick, ask the world’s biggest and most popular zoos if they’ve thought about creating an elephant with a giraffe’s head to get the punters in.

Anyway, Trevorrow talked about the new dinosaur as being symbolic of consumer and corporate excess. Would you believe it!? He didn’t stop there. “We’re surrounded by wonder and yet we want more, and we want it bigger, faster, louder, better. And in the world of the movie, the animal is designed based on a series of corporate focus groups”. Replace the word “animal” with “Jurassic World” and Trevorrow could quite easily be talking about his movie. In fact, he doesn’t stop there, uttering this prime nugget: “There’s something in the film about our greed and our desire for profit”. Yep – you got it! The latest addition to the dino-franchise represents the worst component of Hollywood, that moment when the magic of cinema, and the creative spirit that makes it so wonderful, is pillaged and exploited for the betterment of the commercial product. Note also the relentless product placement throughout.

Jurassic World review - Top 10 Films

The latest addition to the dino-franchise represents the worst component of Hollywood, that moment when the magic of cinema, and the creative spirit that makes it so wonderful, is pillaged and exploited for the betterment of the commercial product.

In the interests of fairness, I should note what I did like. There’s a moment when a species of ocean-dwelling dinosaur wows spectators in an amphitheatre similar to the type of exhibit you’d see at Sea World. When the crowd think the show is over, the tiered seating mechanically drops below the water level to show eager eyes the creature in its natural habitat. The inner child thought that was cool. That’s about it.

Chris Pratt brings his charismatic persona to the role of velociraptor trainer Owen Grady, and Vincent D’Onofrio is perfectly slimy as the security contractor keen on turning the park’s deadliest inhabitants into weapons for warfare, however, both are hampered by the script. It paints them in a single dimension, providing not an ounce of the intelligence required to make their individual efforts credible.

Any other positives Jurassic World might have are lost in its insulting disregard for those audiences that were wowed by this franchise for the first time in 1993. New audiences might not find the flaws distracting, others may be happy to ignore the total lack of originality, scarcity of dramatic invention or the curious absence of satisfying plot twist. Indeed, the film will gain favour from those able to suspend their disbelief to extortionate levels, to applause the homage-tinged introduction of an “old friend“, and the transformation of predators to incarnations of Lassie, but I’d be surprised if anyone could say with a straight face that the element of peril presented by Trevorrow is anything but mildly diverting (like an itch on the end of your nose). Even when things get hairy, I’m not sure anyone will care which character gets his or her head bitten off. Like so many franchises, the sequels get less and less entertaining on their chronological journey. This is no different. Yes – give me Jurassic Park 3 ahead of this anytime.

Jurassic World ONE STAR

Written by Daniel Stephens

Jurassic World review - Top 10 FilmsDirected by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B. D. Wong
Released: 2015
Genre: Science-Fiction
Country: USA / IMDB
More reviews: Latest | Archive

Jurassic World is released on DVD & Blu-ray in the UK October 19.

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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    Ryan Pollard Reply

    I feel slightly less negative, but my reaction is more mixed than positive. It certainly delivers on upping the spectacle from before by adding more to the size, scale and scope with impressive CGI and imaginative dinosaur monsters. However, it was let down by a baggy incoherent story with generic, badly-developed characters, which is a shame as I really like both Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Very flawed fun definitely, but still fun nevertheless.

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    Wendell Reply

    I agree with just about everything you said here, yet I didn’t actually hate it. I just chalked it up to being really dumb fun. I mean REALLY DUMB.


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    Rodney Reply

    You nailed it, Dan. This is a soulless, empty film masquerading as a summer blockbuster. While I didn’t hate it with the vitriol you’ve ladled onto Trevorrow et al, I did find it impossibly stupid at times (i really wanted to eviscerate BDH’s character for how absolutely useless she was as a person even thought I did enjoy a lot of the “dino-action” sequences. I doubt I’ll watch this one again in a hurry. But you make some solid points.

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    Billy Hodgson Reply

    Jurassic world is amazing

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    Warren Jacobs Reply

    I only managed around 53 painful minutes before walking out. The dinosaur ripping the tracking device out of itself did it for me. Awful cardboard-cut-out characters, and extremely poor plot devices make this by far the worst Jurassic x movie by far. It made transformers look like citizen kane.

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      “It made transformers look like citizen kane” – wow, now that is damning! 😉

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    AV Reply

    one of th best posts on jurrasic world i have come across, balanced and to the point

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      Dan Reply

      Much appreciated AV.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    I’ve heard many people echo this same sentiment. I disagree with it vehemently. It’s easily and unequivocally my favourite film of the year. The last 20 minutes brought tears of joy to my eyes. The T-rex, Raptor, I-rex battle was adrenaline pumping, heart pounding, pulse racing fun. And Pratt was terrific as was Howard. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but in this case, I disagree with yours implicitly.

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      Dan Reply

      I’m not surprised that the film has divided audiences and I do think it’ll work quite well for younger audiences – those that didn’t see the original at the time of its release and who can forgive Jurassic World for its low IQ characters and lack of dramatic invention. But, for me, even then I’d encourage children to watch Jurassic Park (but I realise it’s easier to get them watching the new stuff than the “old”).

      My biggest gripe is how the film pretends to be a sequel but is in actual fact a pseudo-remake with the principle intention of milking a commercial goldmine. This infuriated me. It made me forget for a second why Jurassic Park was so good – the awe at the special effects, the whole idea that dinosaurs were given their time again in a modern setting, the inherent excitement behind the theme park setting.

      Jurassic World nicked these ideas and did nothing that I’d class as inventive or entertaining with them. It meant even the film’s good points – Pratt’s unmistakable charisma – were almost completely lost on me. Any “homage” – and I got that Trevorrow was going for this at times (the T-Rex intro, for instance) – was similarly lost on me; the director’s inability to do anything new with such a great concept meant his links to the original only added to the film’s lazy construction.

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    Callum Reply

    One of the most enjoyable reviews I’ve read! I didn’t think it was this bad but I’m easily entertained. That said, there’s no forgiving how dumb they made these characters.

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      Dan Reply

      Thanks Callum.

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    Dan Reply

    Well in your opinion it was lazy construction, in my opinion it was perfectly constructed and terrifically executed. They had interesting and funny characters and they were not done. There was plenty of action, plenty of nostalgia, plenty of throw back to the original, and then plenty of new stuff to make it feel fresh. There’s a reason why the film had a 3 multiplier after a record-setting opening weekend. That’s because people enjoyed it which means for the most part they must have been doing something right. Again that’s just my opinion but numbers don’t lie.

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      Dan Reply

      I agree that the “numbers” tell a different story as to the film’s “success” but again you can look at them in another way. For me, they’re indicative of everything that is wrong with Jurassic World.

      Rodney called the film “soulless” and I totally understand what he means – it smacks of Hollywood “product”. I’m all for entertaining action and haven’t got an inherent problem with sequels (can’t wait for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and loved the latest Avengers movie) but I want, at the very least, some sort of invention, something that’s vaguely unique, some twist on the norm, something that doesn’t take its audience for granted.

      Jurassic World didn’t do any of these things – in my opinion. In fact, it gets a 1 star rating from me because I found it to be insulting. It said: I don’t care what Jurassic Park meant to you as a kid, I’m going to ask you to pay more hard-earned money for yourself, your kids, your significant others, whoever, for a poor imitation of a great movie.

      Going back to its box office results. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it did well. In 2014, pretty much the entire top 10 money-makers were sequels or related to major franchises (ie. Guardians of the Galaxy). Hollywood knows what it needs to do to pay its bills and Jurassic World is another product of this business design.

      But making money at the box office is by no means an indication of the film’s quality. Worldwide in 2014, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Amazing Spider-Man 2 were both in the top 10 with Transformers – unbelievably – at number one. I’m sure those two films have plenty of fans but I’m not one of them.

      Likewise, Jurassic World looked great on the shelf, its familiar, shiny packaging demanding a sale. It’s only when you get home that you realise the box is empty.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Well I guess this is one of the few times we will have to agree to disagree Dan. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Dan Reply

      It doesn’t happen very often! 🙂

  11. Avatar
    Dan Grant Reply

    This is true. W rarely disagree on much when it comes to film.

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    Dave Reply

    Danny although this film is not as good as the first one enjoy it for what it is, a fun film with a classic Chris Pratt performance and slightly less annoying kids than the first. Also it does rehash most of the storylines from the first film, there is no escaping the pure pleasure of the end sequence and as I will refer to it from now on as dinosaur porn, it may be based in fantasy but we all enjoy watching it. A solid three stars and a definite watch again with the family.

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