Film review: Jurassic World’s hybrid dinosaur is as good as it gets

This time around, the geneticists have gone one step further and have created a hybrid uber-dinosaur called the Indominus rex. The beast is a mix of all the best dinosaurs out there – including, of course, fan favourites T-Rex and velociraptor.

From left, Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire, Chris Pratt as Owen, Nick Robinson as Zach, and Ty Simpkins as Gray, in a scene from Jurassic World, directed by Colin Trevorrow, in the next instalment of Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking Jurassic Park series. Universal Pictures / Amblin Entertainment via AP
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Jurassic World

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan

Three stars

Twenty-two years after we last visited the dinosaur-infested shores of Isla Nublar in 1993's Steven Spielberg-directed Jurassic Park (he is an executive producer this time), this weekend finally sees the first cruise ships dock at the now fully functional dinosaur park, and not a lot seems to have changed in 22 years.

The movie, perhaps wisely, chooses to ignore the events of the previous two sequels – 1997's mediocre The Lost World, and 2001's critically panned Jurassic Park III, instead choosing to take us back to Nublar (the previous two sequels were set on neighbouring Isla Sorna), more than two decades after the grisly events of the first film.

InGen, the genetics company that created the dinosaurs in the previous movie, has now been absorbed into the Masrati Corporation, headed up by chief executive Simon Masrani (Bollwood sensation-turned Hollywood big hitter Irrfan Khan), and the island now houses the fully functioning dinosaur theme park planned in the first movie, thanks to Masrani’s generous financial support.


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This time, however, the geneticists have gone one step further. In response to Masrani’s demand that they create the biggest, most dangerous, “coolest” dinosaur ever, they’ve created a hybrid uber-dinosaur called the Indominus rex. It’s a mix of all the best dinosaurs out there – including, of course, fan favourites T-Rex and velociraptor. To account for missing DNA strands, we learn that the scientists have also thrown in the DNA of cuttlefish and tree frogs. Innocent enough you might think, until you consider the creatures’ attributes. Yes, the uber-dinosaur can change colour for camouflage and change its body temperature to hide from thermal imaging equipment. The scientists have basically bred a giant, bloodthirsty, prehistoric, seemingly indestructible predator.

Things are pretty ominous from Masrani’s first visit to inspect his new creation. Questions like “So she’s intelligent?” and “Is the paddock safe?” often don’t bode well for future happenings in this type of movie. Naturally our shiny new dinosaur escapes and embarks on a rampage, killing everything – human and dinosaur – in her path, as she seeks to establish her new alpha position in the island’s food chain.

The CGI and effects are spectacular. There are moments when the fields of grazing/rampaging dinosaurs veer a little too close to being in a video game, but for the most part they work.

Unfortunately, the film knows this, and relies too heavily on stunning special effects at the expense of script and characterisation. The basic premise of "dinosaurs go on the rampage on an island" has clearly been done before – it was called Jurassic Park — and this could easily be a remake, except that the first movie had a set of strong lead characters that pulled you into the story and kept you there. That's not quite the case this time.

Chris Pratt puts in a solid shift as Owen Grady, a former military man-turned dinosaur trainer, who has improbably developed a Dolittle-like affinity with his herd of velociraptor.

Bryce Dallas Howard is Claire Dearing, the hard-faced park operations manager who refers to the wondrous creations around her as “assets” and loves nothing more than a good chat about focus groups and yearly figures. This is perhaps one reason why the love/hate relationship between Dearing and Grady hasn’t progressed beyond the hate phase in the film’s early stages.

Vincent D’Onofrio is Vic Hoskins, InGen’s boot sergeant-esque head of security, who we learn has nefarious plans to utilise the dinosaurs as a cash cow for the military industrial complex. This is the film’s one attempt at plot intrigue, but it’s broadcast so loudly from Hoskins’ first appearance, and such a well-worn device, that it doesn’t really offer any intrigue at all.

Finally, this being a Spielberg production, some kids have to be caught up in the action, and Dearing’s nephews, played by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson, fill that role, teaching her that family and love are more important than spreadsheets and profit margins in the process.

The film won’t win any awards for its script. Neither did its predecessors, even the widely acclaimed first instalment. But it will win awards for its special effects, though, and it will have box offices heaving. Also, it has dinosaurs. Everybody loves dinosaurs, and it’s great fun for two hours. It’s in theatres this weekend, so you’d better join the queue.

• Jurassic World opens on Wednesday, June 10. In Abu Dhabi at Cineroyal Dalma Mall; Vox Cinemas Marina Mall and Vox Cinemas Yas Mall. In Dubai at VOX Cinemas Deira City Centre, VOX Cinemas Mall of the Emirates, VOX Cinemas Mercato Mall, VOX Cinemas Mirdif City Centre; Novo Cinemas Ibn Battuta; Reel Cinemas The Dubai Mall; Reel Cinemas The Beach