JurassicWorld-1The term ‘development hell’ has rarely been more appropriate than when used to describe the history of getting Jurassic Park 4 to the big screen. In numerous stages during the 14 year gap between Jurassic Park 3, JP4 has taken many forms, with scripts from the likes of John Sayles and William Monahan never quite getting off the ground (if you can, give them read, always interesting to see what DNA survives across scripts). But now, after many years of false starts, we are finally able to revisit a universe that so many of us hold very fondly to our movie-going hearts, and have been nervously anticipating for over a decade. Thankfully, it has been worth the wait.

Isla Nublar, the island which played host to John Hammond’s failed Dinosaur Park project 22 years ago is now a fully functioning Dinosaur theme park, displaying the cloned dino’s in all their carefully exhibited (and sponsored) glory. With the pressure on to deliver fresher and scarier attractions, park operator Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is preparing to unveil a new genetically modified hybrid, the Indominus Rex, built within the on-site lab led by Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong). Of course, none of this can go well, as the highly intelligent I-Rex manages to escape from containment on an island with thousands of daily visitors. Claire, with the aid of Raptor-trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), sets out to ensure the safety of the island’s patrons, including her two young nephews (Nick Robinson & Ty Simpkins).

Trying to develop reasons for why anyone would want to go back to a land full of dinosaurs is something which hindered the two sequels to Steven Spielberg’s original classic. Yet now, with so much time having passed, theJurassicWorld-2 concept of having the park fully functioning seems like a definite no-brainer when it comes to re-introducing this franchise to modern audiences. While it is impossible to recapture the sheer awe of seeing the dinosaurs for the first time in Jurassic Park, director/co-writer Colin Trevorrow manages to construct something similar through seeing John Hammond’s dream come to such full and exciting life. This is a park that I want to visit, despite the fact that many of the attractions would rather eat me than pose for a selfie. IT is a park which clearly borrows inspiration from the likes of Universal and SeaWorld, but one that looks inviting none the less.

Trevorrow also employs a welcome self-awareness in regards to having to capture a sense of awe, and it is this concern that the Indominus Rex spirals from. The Indominus has come from a desire to provide something bigger, more terrifying, something with ‘more teeth.’ The mystery surrounding her genetic make-up allows her to be a curious creature, while her up-bringing, as the world-weary Owen fully acknowledges, has made her into a confused, curious and lost being, un-sure of her place in the world. It is this dilemma of whether it is natural to create such a creature which gives Jurassic World some kind of philosophical debate, but not one that is as finessed or delivered as memorably as the Chaos Theory ramblings of Dr. Ian Malcom. Yet, these discussions do allow for the character of Dr. Wu to be further fleshed out to match his character from Michael Crichton’s original novel. It is moments like these, as well as more obvious call-back moments to the franchise, that help Jurassic World to form as something worthy of its 1993 predecessor.

While the argument can most certainly be made for Jurassic World as a self-aware blockbuster, what with self-conscious branding, as well as both an indulgence and un-packaging of old-fashioned adventure movie clichés, what works and what makes this truly a success are the feelings it inspires within yourself (particularly your ‘fanboy/girl’ self). No film has quite made me feel like an 8 year-old kid discovering his new favourite movie for quite some time. It is wonderful to have such a feeling, and Trevorrow concocts JurassicWorld-3it through well-placed beats of nostalgia, as well as upping the factor in crazy dino-action. What we see here is ludicrous, without a doubt, but the image of Chris Pratt riding with a pack of Raptors in order to engage with a big bad beast left me giddy with excitement (an excitement which only grows in the last act, which is fan-servicing in all its glory). Be it sites of the old park, or the unforgettable cues of John Williams’, it is hard for you not to get caught up in the action of an adventure that feels welcomingly familiar, but also exciting and fresh.

Nostalgia can easily blind one to legitimate criticisms, as is somewhat the case here, as Jurassic World, despite having a great cast, doesn’t have too many memorable characters to speak of, largely due to their characterisations. While I think everyone has a little bit more going on to them than their conventional surfaces would first lead you to believe, no one quite strikes the same chord as Alan Grant or Malcolm did back in the 90’s. But the performances do impress, with Bryce Dallas Howard proving to be a bit more playful than we were led to believe, while Chris Pratt has an air of an old-fashioned movie star about him, what with his Fairbanks moustache and natural charisma turning Owen into an engaging, and macho, screen presence.

The leap that Trevorrow has made from sweet indie flick Safety Not Guaranteed to big budget movie fare is not a task that many would agree to do, as the change in business and film-making dynamics almost mark his two experiences within two separate industries. He tackles Jurassic World with confidence and style, with his choice to shoot on film providing a pleasingly earthy palette to the jungles of Isla Nublar. Much of the dino-action occurs in huge moments of chaos, and here Trevorrow deploys a macabre glee that is not unlike the work of Joe Dante. He knows that audiences have come to see dinosaurs eat people, so he makes it his intention that such action beats impress. His script, with writing partner Derek JurassicWorld-4Connolly, also attempts to provide these beasts with a little more personality than we’ve seen before, which works for the most part, even if some scenes use such a factor in ways which do stretch credibility, even in a franchise such as this.

What is ultimately the greatest success of Jurassic World  is that it is a sequel that manages to feel like a Jurassic Park movie whilst also providing an adventure that feels new, with a sense of excitement and wonderment that is all its own. Yes there are plot holes, and yes it is all a bit silly, but heck, it’s a dinosaur movie, and one that delivers on both fleshing out the concept of a functioning park and as a wholly entertaining popcorn thriller. Its thunderous success should be celebrated, as a once thought extinct franchise has managed to strike an incredible chord with audiences, something which feels almost a privilege to be a part of. When life finds a way, you’ve just gotta endorse it.

4/5- A nostalgia heavy adventure is one that is also exciting, thrilling and just the right amount of ludicrous; Jurassic World leaves its mark and dares other blockbusters to do better.