'Tis the season for reboots of childhood favourites for the '90s kids. Jurassic Park the film introduced the world to the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex, its huge scaly size intimidating, but its steely gaze even more so. It made paleontology cool, and back in the days when amusement parks were basically a child's paradise, it conjured up an amusement park worth an entire summer's fantasies.
Jurassic World has a fantastic opening, a tribute to the previous films. As eerie string music draws the viewer in, there is an extreme close-up of an egg that starts cracking, and then we can see the diabolic gleam of the creature inside. Yet times have changed, and there is another generation of children visiting this fictional park now. The dinosaur breeding facility gets people in droves, and yet the owners are worried about how they are going to keep the crowds coming. Dinosaurs are as amusing or "boring" as elephants, the film observes. Did you think considering dinosaurs cool was so last decade? Jurassic World comes back with updates that are sure to keep you hooked. In the latest version of this cult dinosaur franchise, the creatures are back, conniving, and thoroughly entertaining. They have even undergone genetic mutations, making them even more fearsome. Modern day conservationist ethics have entered this world too, and the film becomes a fight between the ruthless corporate/military hunters and liberal rescuers.
Behold a pool of swimming dinosaurs fed on sharks (for amusement), a pasture full of the lithe-necked peaceful herbivore Brachiosaurus, whom you can observe from inside a glass bubble vehicle, and an aviary that houses the flying dinosaurs, Pteranodons. Velociraptors are being bred in captivity like a pack of dogs at the facility, with Owen Brady (Chris Pratt) as their alpha trainer. Can dinosaurs, the biggest animals to have roamed the Earth, also be domesticated? (The climax of the film is hinged on this, so I won't tell you yet.) Two brothers Gray (Ty Simmons) and Zach Mitchell (Nick Robinson) have arrived at the park, to stay with the park operations manager and their aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). Predictably, hell breaks loose when their pet project, the dinosaur created to be a hybrid between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a mysterious other species, manages to dupe its captors and lets itself loose all over the park. Again, predictably, the brothers manage to get themselves into the danger zone, even while all other visitors have been evacuated. Even though the plot and its outcome follows a steady "family movie" formula that Hollywood scriptwriters perhaps have a computer programme to write for them by now, thrills are neverending. The complicated relationship that these evolved humans have with the dinosaurs (have they started listening to their captives, or do they have a mind of their own now?) becomes the central conflict. Jurassic World is yet another Frankenstein-ian allegory: what happens when the gentically modified dinosaur, much bigger, much more powerful, "much crueller" than the other dinosaurs, bred in absolute isolation, that even the latest military technology is no match for, the Indominus Rex, comes back to bring about judgment day?
This film would delight all animal and dinosaur lovers — the Velociraptors bred in captivity have evolved character arcs of their own, and are shown in an almost anthropomorphic light. The script has developed out of previously unfilmed bits of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novels. Irrfan Khan does a good job as the bumbling yet brave facility owner, though he still has that mysterious accent that always appears in his Hollywood films. Tributes to the previous films abound, the gates of the Jurassic Park are literally pushed open at one point. Before all hell breaks loose, Irrfan Khan has a potent warning dialogue, "You can only be happy once you give up control". Jurassic World is a virtual roller-coaster; I suggest you brave it and take this joyride, and take your kids along, if only to introduce them to another generation of dinosaurs that may have ruled your childhood.