The Awe-Inspiring Experience of Jurassic World

Viewers of Jurassic World are a ‘less excitable generation’, who probably share the mixed feelings evoked by its high and low points. While Director Colin Trevorrow is no Steven Spielberg, this sequel to Jurassic Park compares favourably with the original. Its use of surround sound and special effects adds to the thrill of being eaten by a bigger, faster, scarier dinosaur. Fortune’s in-house film-critic therefore left Jurassic World with impressions of ‘unmitigated awesomeness’, which undoubtedly contributed to his awarding the movie seven out of 10 stars.

Ever seen a movie that is hard to measure? The kind of film that leaves the audience with feelings of both dejection and euphoria, that feels good but unsatisfying at the same time. Like the second Mission Impossible movie (an obvious rip off of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie Notorious), which is too slow paced and over the top. But, at the last moment, in third act, the movie throws us into an unexpected momentum of pure awe. When the credits roll, all we actually remember is that part of the movie and its unmitigated awesomeness.

It was in 1993 that Steven Spielberg made the first Jurassic Park movie, one of the most extravagant movies of all time. And nothing says extravagant like dinosaurs that have come to life to serve as theme park attractions. The film inspires wonder and excitement, not just by the groundbreaking special effects it espoused but for legendary composer John Williams’ score. Though the movie had such lame human characters to compete with the sheer incredulity of the dinosaurs, the film was a true blockbuster – not overly witty or imaginably narrated, just big and fun. And where entertainment is concerned, that is usually enough.

And now, 22 years later, Jurassic World has come to conform to a new, less excitable generation. It is not a reboot – it takes place some years after the incident of the first movie – but a sequel. By that, I am not saying Universal Studios never made another Jurassic Park movie. It made two more actually, but this is the first one that feels like a true sequel, in terms of both theme and spirit.

For those who have not seen the original, what happens is that a T-Rex breaks loose in the park and starts devouring everyone in sight. We learn from this film that the park was closed but then it was opened anew. This should not be surprising for anyone who knows something about corporate agencies. This new park is not hampered by the same problems as the old one though, and it continues as a regular park for years. Visitors are pleased to come and revel at the sight of actual dinosaurs for the first time in their lives; but as time goes on, visitors start to become a bit bored. As citizens of the smart-phone era, they want something new every second; they want something taller, bigger, swifter and more exciting than dinosaurs. Better yet, they want something scarier.

And this is when the park’s owner resorts to literally upgrading older species and creating new ones. The plan proves effective when attendance spikes and revenue is increased. In the same instance, the park’s latest attraction, not yet unveiled to the people, escapes from its cage. The animal is a faster, wilder, smarter (hence more dangerous), version of a T-Rex. I do not need to explain what happens next.

Alongside this interesting storyline, we are introduced to Owen (played by current blockbuster favorite Chris Pratt), a rugged, handsome, tall athlete who serves as the movies protagonist. From the beginning of the movie, he is very skeptical about the idea of creating a new species, so, when all hell breaks loose, he does not even say I told you so. What a gentleman, a classic hero and a complete cliché. The female lead and Owen’s love interest on the other hand, played by director Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, has great features, is the face of new feminism and saves the day.

What Spielberg was to the first two Jurassic movies, Colin Trevorrow is to Jurassic World. He came to note with his strange and comedic independent debut film Safety Not Guaranteed. This is only his second feature but does not look like it. Yes, he has a hand in the film’s unfortunate script, but his skills in exposition are undeniable. I would not go as far as to say he reminded me of a young and voracious Spielberg – with this film he has become a “Hollywoodian”, while Spielberg made Hollywood “Spielbergian” – but there is something about his style that I cannot help but admire.

Jurassic World’s first two acts are at best passable and at worst, cheesy or obvious. Some side stories the movie tries to deal with, like unrequited love and the effects of impending divorce on children are just plain boring. But then, when I had almost given up, the film wavered into newer territory. By the end of third act, with the last resolution, the movie redeems itself and gives Spielberg’s classic a run for its money.

One thing I would like to warn my readers about, and the biggest reason I held this film in high esteem is that I saw it on the big screen, with surround sound and one of the best 3D special effects I have ever seen applied. Without these effects, the movie is left with its slightly deplorable script, and that will not impress anyone. The film is beautifully shot in film stock and everything that is, is experienced instead of merely seen.


By Christian tesfaye
special to fortune

Published on Jul 06,2015 [ Vol 16 ,No ]



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