Film discussion

Looking back at… Jurassic World

“Don’t forget why we built this place, Claire. Jurassic World exists to remind us how very small we are; How new. You can’t put a price on that.”

Jurassic Park fans waited patiently through fourteen years of rumors, failed scripts, and speculation in preparation for the revitalization and continuation of their beloved franchise. Steven Spielberg returned to executive produce, and a new director and composer were chosen to continue the Jurassic story. Colin Trevorrow, known at the time for his fantastic indie flick Safety Not Guaranteed, was selected to direct, and Michael Giacchino, known for his musical work on The Incredibles and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek series, was hired to compose the score. Budding stars Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt were chosen to portray the leads in the film.

Jurassic World roared into theaters on June 12th, 2015 and would go on to smash its way through box office records. It grossed more than one billion dollars worldwide during its run. Why was it so successful? How does it continue the story Michael Crichton initiated? To find out, let’s make our way back to Isla Nublar.

John Hammond, the beloved founder of InGen and Jurassic Park, has passed on. His ultimate dream of opening a fully functioning dinosaur theme park has not. The year is 2015, and Jurassic World has been open to the public for 10 years, thrilling thousands of guests a day with living, breathing dinosaurs.

However, after ten years of operation, the public is not as thrilled by seeing a normal dinosaur anymore. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), senior assets manager of Jurassic World, and Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong, making his return to the franchise after starring in Jurassic Park), head geneticist of Jurassic World, have an idea that could revitalize the excitement and profitability of Jurassic World. That idea and the means necessary to achieve it will have more repercussions on mankind and the world than anyone involved has the full perspective to realize…

The film’s begins with a shot filled with off-white. As the screen appears to crack and the camera pans out, the location is Jurassic World’s lab. A grey dinosaur partially claws its way out of its egg, and not far away another dinosaur begins to scratch its way out of its identical egg. This is the realization of Claire Dearing and Dr. Wu’s idea: A new, genetically modified, hybrid dinosaur called the Indominus Rex that is bigger, louder, and has more teeth than any dinosaur Jurassic World has housed before.

The underscore swells into a fantastic scene transition: What appears to be the massive foot of a dinosaur collides with snow-covered ground, but it is revealed to be the very small foot of a bird. Zach and his younger brother Gray, nephew’s of Jurassic World’s Claire Dearing, prepare to depart for Jurassic World as a Christmas gift. As they arrive to the park via ferry, John Williams’ iconic Jurassic Park theme is gorgeously cued. After escaping the watchful eye of their Aunt Claire’s assistant Zara, the brothers are able to see a humongous attraction new to the Jurassic franchise, the water-dwelling Mosasaurus. In a breathtaking sequence and slight homage to Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, the Mosasaurus emerges from the water, devours a great white shark as if it is an appetizer, and returns to its watery home with a splash that soaks Zach and Gray and hundreds of other guests.

Claire meets with corporate owner of Jurassic World and CEO of Masrani Global, Simon Masrani (Irfan Khan), to review the new enclosure for the Indominus Rex. The attraction is set to open to the public soon, but is still a secret to most at the moment. Masrani is frightened yet impressed at his first sight of the new creature, and is shocked to learn the creature cannibalized its own sibling. Masrani instructs Claire to have her military man and friend Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) inspect the enclosure and identify its vulnerabilities.

In the next scene, Owen is seen giving an impressive demonstration controlling Jurassic World’s velociraptors, Blue, Delta, Charlie, and Echo. He has an especially close bond with Blue, the lead velociraptor of the four. Claire later retrieves Owen from his bungalow, where it’s revealed that the two have a short-lived and failed romantic past. She returns to the Jurassic World control room, while Owen proceeds to the Indominus Rex paddock to inspect it.

Absolute chaos ensues from that point on. The Indominus Rex is revealed to have the ability to camouflage itself within its environment, and it uses that ability to trick every employee at the paddock and violently escape. It devours two unlucky Jurassic World employees in the process, but Owen manages to escape and makes it back to the control room and Claire.

He is understandably livid at the genetic actions of InGen and Jurassic World’s geneticists, but Claire promptly informs him that there is nothing he ha the power to control in this situation. Owen reminds everyone in the room that what they have created is “no dinosaur”, and that they must evacuate the island before lives are lost. Masrani and Claire stop this suggestion in its tracks and advocate for the importance of their new asset. They suggest that perhaps their Asset Containment Unit (ACU) can capture the creature before it gets too far and causes too much damage. Owen knows this is unlikely, but is powerless to affect the situation in that moment. The full and brutal consequences of mankind attempting to control and manipulate nature are seen in the duration of the film.

Many fantastic sequences fill this film. The sequence in which Claire and Masrani initially travel to the Indominus Rex’s enclosure is especially wonderful both visually and musically. As they travel by helicopter over the well-known Jurassic locales, music that perfectly evokes the feelings of flight accompanies them. Masrani reminds Claire that “the key to a happy life is to accept that you are never actually in control.” He adds, “Don’t forget why we built this place, Claire. Jurassic World exists to remind us how very small we are; How new. You can’t put a price on that.” Masrani is reminiscent of the wonder and wisdom possessed by John Hammond in Jurassic Park during this scene. As they land at the enclosure, the Jurassic Park theme immaculately underscores their arrival.

The escape of the Indominus Rex is an exhilarating and terrifying experience to behold. This, along with the scene in which the ACU attempts and fails tragically to contain the escaped monster are jarringly violent, and extremely suspenseful. The Indominus Rex smashes through a barrier of the enclosure containing Jurassic World’s flying dinosaurs, and they escape to terrify guests gathered on Jurassic World’s Main Street. Zach and Gray are caught in the middle of this sequence, and Zara meets an untimely end that serves as a first in the Jurassic franchise. Trevorrow provided greater moments of action and horror for these moments. I recall being frozen in terror and also absolutely enthralled by these massive moments.

The executives of the park and head of InGen security Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) realize that Owen’s ability to “control” the velociraptors could be just what they need to track down and recapture the Indominus Rex. Owen starkly objects to using his velociraptors for this purpose, but is forced by InGen to comply. In what might be the most awesome (in every sense of the word) sequence of the film, Owen joins his pack of velociraptors on his motorcycle as they charge through the jungle in search of the Indominus. When they are able to track it down, the true and sinister nature of the genetics of the Indominus Rex is revealed.

The climax and ending of Jurassic World are undoubtedly up there with the best if the Jurassic franchise. The velociraptors’ and Indominus Rex’s warpath collides with Owen’s, Claire’s, Zach’s, and Gray’s on Jurassic World’s Main Street, adjacent to the Mosasaurus’ lagoon. Owen instructs his raptor pack to attack the Indominus Rex, but it is able to vanquish the majority of them. Gray brilliantly realizes what they need is more teeth to join the battle, and Claire knows just how to fulfill that. She instructs dinosaur nerd and Jurassic World control room technician Lowery Cruthers (Jake Johnson) to open a specific paddock, Paddock 9. He reluctantly complies, and as the door opens, the Tyrannosaurus Rex from Jurassic Park emerges to join the fight against the monster terrorizing her island home. The scene is truly iconic and excitingly memorable for many reasons.

In the last seconds of the battle, it looks as if the Indominus Rex is going to win the day. However, in an ultimate homage to Jurassic Park, the Tyrannosaur, surviving raptors, and the group of humans receive incredible help from an unexpected ally… The final shot of Jurassic World is epic. The Tyrannosaur reclaims Isla Nublar with a bellowing roar, echoing over the expanse of Isla Nublar as the Jurassic World theme is cued. All is right on the island for this beautiful moment. How long that will last in the Jurassic World franchise is yet to be seen…

While Owen represents the traditional hero and is a huge force in saving the day, Claire is most important in this film and in turn the Jurassic World franchise. Her strong and dominant female character is refreshing and entertaining to watch as she must face the mistakes of her park and later rises to the occasion to save the day.

Jurassic World functions as an allegory of our actual culture and a phenomenal progression of the story that began with Jurassic Park. The film is a perfect picture of our consumerism and technology obsessed culture and where those things can lead us. It is also an accurate representation of the ferocious consequences of dabbling with genetic power and playing God.

As the Jurassic World and Jurassic Park franchises continue this summer, Jurassic World is an entertaining, important, and worthwhile watch before seeing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in cinemas now. Claire and Owen return to Isla Nublar to save the dinosaurs from deadly threats that come in many forms. Will life find a way this time around?

Are you a fan of Jurassic World? Let us know what you make of it.

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