Review: JURASSIC WORLD (2015) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Review: JURASSIC WORLD (2015)

JURASSIC WORLD is as big as Indominus Rex, and this visually-engaging dino blockbuster is the best movie in the franchise since the original version.


When comes to cinematic dinosaur, there's no doubt that JURASSIC PARK is automatically placed at the top of everyone's favourite list. Thanks to the realistic-looking dinosaurs, the original version was a groundbreaking success in 1993 and still remained one of the most iconic summer blockbusters ever seen in the Hollywood history. However, both sequels -- THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997) and JURASSIC PARK III (2001) -- were heavily paled in comparisons with the original. Not to mention the third movie has especially left a bad impression in the JURASSIC PARK franchise. Now fourteen years later, the once-lucrative franchise finally made a comeback with JURASSIC WORLD. And thankfully, it was a triumphant return.

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Set 22 years after the event of JURASSIC PARK, the previously-abandoned park has since been revamped into a fully-functional theme park known as "Jurassic World". Now owned by a billionaire tycoon Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), Jurassic World is supervised by Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) to ensure every operation within the theme park is running smooth. But things don't go well when Dr. Henry Wu's (BD Wong, reprising his role after the first movie) latest innovation -- a hybrid dinosaur known as Indominus Rex -- which supposed to be the park's upcoming attraction to lure more visitors, has become unstable. The Indominus Rex subsequently manages to escape from the heavily-fortified confinement and begins to wreck havoc on both dinosaur and human. With more life at stake, Claire relies on Owen (Chris Pratt), a former military expert-turned-velociraptor trainer, to help her resolve the situation before it's all too late.

THE GOOD STUFF
 
At the first glance, handling a US$150 million budget to an untested director (Colin Trevorrow) whose only previous movie was an independently made sci-fi comedy called SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012), doesn't inspires immediate confidence. Although the aforementioned movie was an indie favourite among many film festivals, it never occurred to me that Steven Spielberg would entrust his beloved franchise to someone like Colin Trevorrow, who has no prior experience of managing a big-budget studio picture. But surprisingly, Trevorrow has the same filmmaking enthusiasm that reminds me of young Spielberg during his prime. He knows how to stage breathtaking action set-pieces packed with enough tension, and despite the PG-13 rating, he is smart enough not to scale down the brutality and violence whenever the dinosaur chomps down its human victims.

Speaking of dinosaur, kudos go to Trevorrow and his crew for creating a terrifying movie monster in the form of a genetically-modified dinosaur known as Indominus Rex. A hybrid spliced from various dinosaur DNA including T-Rex, velicoraptor and many others, the Indominus Rex certainly looks physically imposing, especially when the towering beast made its full-scale appearance. The great thing about the Indominus Rex is not just about how savage it can be, but also has a certain level of animal intelligence that manages to outsmart the human encounters as well as other dinosaur species.

While the word "groundbreaking" no longer applies to the effects-laden creation of the dinosaurs like it used to be twenty-two years ago, the special effects -- which thankfully still retains the tradition of blending CGI and animatronic design -- are nevertheless amazing to look at. Apart from its spectacular visual flair, the sound effects are equally top notch. In fact, the audio-visual combo -- such as the stomping feet of a dinosaur -- has that distinctive cinematic quality best experienced on the largest screen possible. Personally, I have watched this in IMAX 3D cinema and the result is truly satisfying.

Then there's the introduction of Gyrosphere, a futuristic sphere-like vehicle with an automated system that enables visitors to witness some of the dinosaurs up-close within a safe distance. It's a cool concept that cleverly upgrades from the traditional green-and-yellow Jurassic Park jeep for today's generation (even though the iconic vehicle still make an appearance in this movie).

The movie, which took four screenwriters (Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver) to write a screenplay, manages to blend an effective mix of nostalgia factor and fresh angle involving the way Owen trains his raptors to form a mutual bond between human and dinosaur. In one particular scene (which also heavily promoted in the trailers), Owen was seen riding a motorcycle in the dark forest with a pack of raptors assisting him on the hunt for the Indominus Rex. When I first saw the trailer, I thought it was a cheesy montage on the verge of self-parody. But upon seeing this scene again in its entirety in the cinema, the result is surprisingly better than expected.

Chris Pratt, who is fresh off from the overwhelming success of last year's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, evokes the same effortless charm and macho swagger that makes him such a sought-after Hollywood actor these days. Bryce Dallas Howard, whose flaming-red hairstyle almost fooled me of mistaking her as Jessica Chastain (INTERSTELLAR), injects enough lively personality to her otherwise typical damsel-in-distress character. Both Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins delivered the kind of Spielbergian-level of classic kids/teenage characters that many of us come to love from the Amblin Entertainment brand, playing their roles competently as Claire's visiting nephews. Vincent D'Onofrio is perfectly typecast as the slimy head of security, Vic Hoskins.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)

The dramatic first encounter with the Indominus Rex, the tense moment involving the dinosaurs and the Gyrosphere; and the GODZILLA-like (the 2014 remake, of course) dino showdown during the climactic finale.
  
THE BAD STUFF

While Chris Pratt is likeable enough as a classic leading man, there are times he looks uncomfortably stiff during some of the moments where he requires to act very serious. Another glaring problem here is the lighter moment between Owen and Claire while he's fixing his motorcycle. Although I appreciate Trevorrow's intention to blow off some steam here, the particular scene feels more like a forced romantic comedy trying too hard to be funny.
  
FINAL WORDS
 

Minor flaws aside, Trevorrow has certainly done a lot re-igniting the JURASSIC PARK franchise back to life again. It's like reliving the good old '90s era where summer blockbuster used to be so much fun and exciting, and that is what JURASSIC WORLD has succeeded the most.

* This review is written courtesy from UIP Malaysia IMAX 3D press screening *

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