Jun 152015

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What is it all about?

As if you need to ask?………..

The Hughes Verdict!

The cinema was packed to the rim, which was strange when the sun outside was shining bright in the clear blue sky.  It was a warm day and there was excitement in the air, an anticipation that something special was about to happen.  I remember that day in 1993 as if it was yesterday!  I was a young lad on a first date, with a girl who after that day I would never see again (my own fault as she wanted to play tonsil tennis up the back of the cinema while my head refused to move into the direction she sat as I stared at the screen above).  I was transfixed in awe at what I was witnessing.  In an age where my memory was of such delights like The Land That Time Forget or One Million Years BC, here in front of me were real images of actual dinosaurs, and for everyone who was watching with me in that dark cinema room,  they had never seen anything like it.

Back then when the name Steven Spielberg meant truly great summer blockbusters, Jurassic Park was something else.  Unless you were from that age, its impact is hard to put in words.  We had never seen anything like it. Even George Lucas who arrived on set one day and saw some footage was blown away and it was there and then he knew that the technology was now ready for his return to the Star Wars saga.   When Sam Neil and co arrived at that park, the gates opened, not just to dinosaurs, but to a whole new imagination for the viewer watching.  The effects were astonishing, the story magnificent, there was only one film that ruled that year and quite rightly is now considered a much loved classic.

Of course with huge box office figures comes a franchise and it’s safe to say that the Park was never quite the same after that first visit.  The first sequel, Lost World was an inferior sequel, failing to build onto the premise that was created, instead relying on the viewer to believe there was “another island” then sit back and see a teenage girl karate chop a blood thirsty Raptor which ranks  just as badly as when Busta Rhymes decided to go all Bruce Lee on Michael Myers.  Jurassic Park III tried then to recapture some of the magic but ended going in circles with huge plot hole misery before failing to give the viewer an ending whatsoever.  Both films are enjoyable in their own little way and have moments that raise the bar,  but both failed to add something original or new.

Now 25 years later (wow… seriously) and there is hope that the next sequel Jurassic World, will see the franchise return to the right path.

There is a line spoken by Jurassic World operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) in this film that sums up the impossible job that this third sequel faced.  She mentions how the new generation, brought up with the likes of Facebook and such, are now easily bored and they need something to really grab their attention.  It’s a line that struck a chord with me because, even before the summer blockbusters hit the market, we have already seen the Avengers lift a town high above the sky and seen a car crash through skyscraper to skyscraper in Fast 7.   When it comes to special effects there is now not much left for the viewer to imagine.  While the 90’s were creating the Matrix effect and thrilling the audience, all we have now is a lazy 3D gimmick and even that now feels old and stale.  What with Jurassic Park itself, played on television nearly every week, how can this new movie thrill like it did all those years ago?  Maybe for the youngsters, the wow factor will be there, but while the score by John Williams still made the hair at the back of head stand up and the many references of the original film made me go crazy, I knew that nostalgia would play a huge part in what I was about to watch.  I needed that 1993 buzz back and I had to be honest with myself and knew it was not going to happen.

Jurassic World opens like I am about to watch an A L I E N sequel with two eggs cracking and a creature of murderous intent inside awaiting to come out. Even the new big evil Indominus rex, came across on one occasion as the Queen of a certain breed.  Maybe that was the intent of director Colin Trevorrow to show the audience that this was going to do what James Cameron did for that Xenomorph franchise, that this was no longer a park, but a whole world and things were going to be bigger and louder, with more dinosaurs and more carnage.

The vision of John Hammond is now alive.  The island of Isla Nublar is now a fully fledged million dollar attraction where people flock to see dinosaurs alive and well.   Time has made the danger of what happened in that park ease into a forgotten memory, even though T-Shirts of the disaster are available on eBay (watch and you understand).  Claire runs the park/world to the best of her ability, even neglecting her family and social life, which means making up for lost time and having her sister’s kids come and pay a visit to the island.  The nephews Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) are typical fare within this film. It may not be Spielberg directing any more but the kids in peril is still a main plot thrust like it was back in the original.

With the “world” demanding new ways to improve business and with nearly every dinosaur now seen and getting boring to the paying customer, despite the words spoken by Ian Malcom all those years back “but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should”,  the genius of the island decide to mess with mother nature and create their own dinosaur, a mix breed of certain things and call it Indominus rex.  The new attraction is meant to bring loads of money to the park, a scare fest for the newcomers as head boss Simon Masrani ( Irrfan Khan) rubs his hands with greed, but the new “toy” does not want to be a tourist attraction. It wants to play, it wants to feed and soon the whole place is feeling its wrath.

Basically it’s the plot of the original all over again with just more people to eat and a few little added plot threads.

Buoyed by his turn and critical success in Guardians Of The Galaxy, Chris Pratt continues his path to be the new Indiana Jones (it has to happen) as he plays the hero Owen, the Islands “Raptor Whisper”, a man who can communicate and train those love-eating-human beasts.  What sounds like a dodgy idea on paper and had many fans questioning the plot vice in the scenes glimpsed in the trailer, actually serves the plot well.  We get to see the scientific nature of this happening and how it is possible and it’s not just a half baked concept.  If the Raptors are this clever, why can’t they be trained by humans for basic instruction and while there is another plot lurking underneath especially with the motive of Vic Hoskins (Daredevil’s Vincent D’Onofrio), this is surely a storyline that will rumble onto the next sequel.  Trained Raptors used as human killing machines… bring it on…..

When the new Rex breaks out, the carnage begins but Trevorrow shows great restrain in filling the plot with pointless explosions.  Yes, the new audience may have less patience these days, but the film takes time for the viewer to get to know these new set of characters, with a dinosaur not glimpsed until gone the twenty minute mark and the killings not happening a further twenty minutes later.

Even the much talked about “sexism” row sparked by Joss Whedon was not worth the fuss.  Just some poor writing to show that there is a spark between Claire and Owen when in reality there really isn’t.  The trouble with Jurassic World is that this new batch of characters are either there for dinosaur food or to simply run from the danger.  The opening half tries to create the same sort of feeling as the original, but while we cared if Dr Grant and Co survived, here the writing lacks so we never really bond with those on show.

That’s not to say its thrilling at times.

When Jurassic World hits its stride it’s simply brilliant!  The much dark moment of the Pterodactyl attack, combined with the 50-foot-long mosasaur, is one of the best scenes of the year and will rightly scare many young children watching and also have parents complaining, but like the head popping scene in Jaws, it’s an image everyone will always remember.

Despite the pre-warning from Owen, Claire calls out to him for help when her nephews venture off into the park on their own (don’t they always) and what follows is just one long survival movie with set-piece after set-piece.  But lingering in-between is the ghost of Jurassic Park.  At times this sequel falls into the path of Superman Returns and tries to write a love letter to the franchise.  There are moments that will hark you back to 1993, from the fleeting appearance of Mr DNA to an old place with its torn banner, the old Park car  to a lit flare at the big battle finale, all tied to that “tune”, and no doubt nostalgia will kick in but at times it does more harm than good.

You can not shake the feeling that the original was a once in the moment of movie history and getting reminded of it when watching this new sequel kind of takes the joy out of the fun as you just want this to be just as good.  They could make ten more of these and they never get that spark again despite the massive takings at the box office over the weekend.

Maybe that is a bit unfair on the Jurassic World because it works brilliantly as the summer blockbuster it was planned to be. You will be excited, you will go “Whoa”, especially when reunited with an old friend at the climax, and despite some woefully written dialogue at times, the film displays a rare heartfelt moment with a dying dinosaur but then its’ a scene that harks back to what we once saw all those years back.

I try not to look at any reviews before I have written my own, but I have seen the many four star ratings and sometimes five from the paper advertisement showing the film poster.  Yes, I admit and say this is miles better than the last two sequels, and serves perfectly as a follow on to its original, but I guess by the time the dust settles, and this makes its way to DVD, many who were blown away by this at the cinema will watch in the comfort of their home and see the more apparent flaws now that nostalgia has vanished.  I expect when the DVD reviews hit, many will lose that extra star from their original score, because Jurassic World is good but not spectacular.  It tries it hardest and for some of the time it works, but I very much doubt when fans end up talking about this franchise in another 25 years, there be only one film that carries the love and heart.. .and that by then will be 50 years old…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ross Hughes

Ross HughesSince my mother sat me down at the age of five years of age and watched a little called Halloween, I have been hooked on horror. There is no other genre that gets me excited and takes me to the edge of entertainment. I watch everything from old, new, to cheap and blockbusters, but I promise all my readers that I will always give an honest opinion, and I hope whoever reads this review section, will find a film that they too can love as much as I do! Have fun reading, and please DO HAVE NIGHTMARES!!!!!!

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