Dino Crisis – ★★★½
It’s 22 years since things went a bit wrong at “Jurassic Park” but the park has now had a complete rebrand and “Jurassic World” is now one of the top tourist destinations in the world. It now covers much of Isla Nublar, the island off the coast of Costa Rica where John Hammond built his park all those years ago. There’s increasing pressure from its board to keep things fresh so (supporting player from the 1993 film) Dr. Henry Wu has cooked up a brand new hybrid for park operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and owner of the park Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan). It’s an enormous, unpredictable “Indominus Rex” which has been spliced together from a range of top dinosaurs, with the precise cocktail remaining secret to everyone but Dr. Wu.
The film stars Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, an Indiana Jones-type traditionalist working at Jurassic World as a raptor wrangler. He’s been training velociraptors to follow orders, under the jealous and watchful eye of Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), the head of security operations who sees a lot of money in using trained velociraptors as tools of war. Yes, seriously.
The Indominus Rex inevitable escapes from its compound and Claire’s two nephews are loose in the park as it goes on the rampage. Cue high-heeled Claire and Owen Grady heading out to rescue them as things get increasingly out of control and Hoskins tries to get his militarisation plans underfoot.
Universal Studios have plucked director Colin Trevorrow from indie obscurity and unlike with Marvel films, it feels like he’s in control here having been allowed to re-write a script that had been knocking around for years. Once we get his first 45 minutes of establishing plotting out of the way we’re able to settle into a highly enjoyable, though increasingly implausible, adventure – though we’re talking about re-introducing dinosaurs to earth so its seems silly to level any criticisms of implausibility at the work.
As with Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt is ridiculously likeable and drags the film along when things start to sag. He’s come a long way from “Parks and Recreation’s ‘Fat Andy'” and there’s now no doubting his A-lister credentials with him fulfilling that old thing that studios pay millions for – “you’d like to be him or be with him”. Much like the original film, a lot of fun also comes from the supporting cast, notably a great turn from TV favourites Jake Johnson (“New Girl”, also Treverrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed) and Lauren Lapkus (“Orange is the New Black”).
Some criticism was levelled at the film’s poor early trailer and clips for its gender stereotyping but the franchise was never about empowering women and by the film’s end Bryce Dallas Howard is a damn-sight tougher than Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler ever was in the original. She is focused on her career with no time for dating or family and that’s fine. Dallas-Howard and Trevorrow have developed a really interesting character and apparently it was her choice to keep the high-heels on Claire throughout. After all the talk, she’s actually not the worst role-model for any younger female audiences seeing this 12A adventure.
There is tremendous affection for Spielberg’s 1993 film and you can feel both his influence and blessing all over Jurassic World. One of the film’s biggest successes is in how it handles the shadow of the original, beginning at first with a series of subtle nod, and then eventually climaxing with a massive bombastic moment that isn’t a hundred miles away from the kind of fanboy freakout thrill you’d get while watching Sharknado or Godzilla. Like the film as a whole, the final act is ridiculous and not all that original, but gives the audience exactly what they want.