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Film review: Jurassic World - dinosaurs return, bigger than ever

Fourth instalment in Jurassic Park series is a 3D spectacle with lively characters and plenty of humour

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2015, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 June, 2015, 11:32pm

Remember the good old days in 1993 when only a few people got eaten by CGI dinosaurs and yet the whole of Hollywood shook in terror and awe? The world has moved on since Steven Spielberg's classic Jurassic Park to embrace — or, perhaps, get stuck with — a new generation of comic-book and disaster movies that wipe out entire cities and ratchet up unthinkable body counts just because they can.

It is with tacit awareness of this customary recourse to special effects artistry — and the mediocrity of 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park and 2001's Jurassic Park III — that Spielberg, as an executive producer, gives Jurassic World a self-reflexive spin. Directed by Safety Not Guaranteed's Colin Trevorrow, this fourth instalment does well to supplement the 3D spectacle with lively characters and good humour.

It's been 22 years since the first movie's disastrous tour on an island near Costa Rica, and Jurassic World returns to the same location and plot, but updates them to reflect the sensibility of today's audiences. Even though the theme park is fully operational — so much so that children can ride triceratops, and a gigantic mosasaurus leaps from an aquatic amphitheatre to eat a shark every day — the visitors are not impressed.

Facing a predicament pretty much shared by contemporary filmmakers, the park management — under the direction of billionaire Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) and the scientific wizardry of Dr Henry Wu (B.D. Wong, reprising his role from Jurassic Park) — has opted to create a genetically modified super-dinosaur as a scary new attraction. It's called the Indominus Rex, and it will break free.

Once chaos reigns again, this electrifying action-adventure film follows the new beast as it roams the jungle island and hunts for fun, while the humans — led by the top-level executive Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and the animal behaviour expert Owen (Chris Pratt), who have gone on one unsuccessful date previously — race to evacuate the 20,000 people in the park before they become dinosaur food.

It is to Trevorrow's credit that, although he's working with an unnaturally intelligent monster — it knows to trick the scientists and remove the tracker in its body — he hasn't forgotten to make the humans interesting: Claire transforms from a hardcore businesswoman into a capable action heroine, while Owen's feat of training velociraptors also lends the sci-fi premise a fresh angle.

An effects-driven monster movie in an era saturated with the kind, Jurassic World distinguishes itself by paying homage to the original movie — bringing back both its abandoned locations and, well, that Tyrannosaurus rex — and making the most of the genre's tired formula. It's an edge-of-your-seat, roller-coaster ride.

Jurassic World opens on June 11

For this story and more, including interviews with Chris Pratt and the film's director, see 48 Hours magazine, published on Thursday June 11