REVIEW: Jurassic World, at the Alnwick Playhouse, Thursday, July 23

A scene from Jurassic World. Picture: Chris Pratt, PA Photo/Universal.
A scene from Jurassic World. Picture: Chris Pratt, PA Photo/Universal.

The dinosaurs are bigger, louder and with more teeth in the fourth Jurassic instalment, but sharply remind us why the original film remains so iconic.

It has been 22 years since John Hammond built the original prehistoric park and for 2015 the attraction has developed some shiny innovations. Early on, the park gates open to reveal a monorail surrounded by crystal-blue waters as John Williams’ well-known score leaps into a crescendo.

PA Photo/Universal

PA Photo/Universal

It certainly makes you want to catch the next boat to Isla Nublar. A genetically-bred hybrid dinosaur, the Indominus Rex, has been cooked up in the lab to help boost visitor numbers, while smatterings of Starbucks, Coke, and a Samsung learning centre remind us of society’s preoccupation with all-important profit and product placement.

Jurassic World is clearly aware of its pitfalls, acknowledging the classic first film when a park staff member wears a t-shirt bought on eBay emblazoned with the original logo.

For the most part, film number four successfully captures the essence of its 1993 predecessor when, for instance, an animatronic Apatosaurus is used amid the CGI in tribute. Director Colin Trevorrow playfully allows around half an hour to pass before we see a dinosaur, just as brothers Zach and Gray hurry through the crowds, straining to catch a glimpse of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and poor goat.

When the larger and louder Indominus eventually escapes, we catch flashes of pointed teeth and hear its thunderous footsteps, but only much later does it emerge in full view and in full killing mode. As a result, park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) enlists ex-Navy man Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and his trained raptors to help restore the Park’s natural balance and rescue her two nephews.

Pratt’s Grady is cool and typically old school, more straight-faced than his recent turn as Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy when riding through the undergrowth on his motorcycle. Yet at times the film lags behind in its dated portrayal of the female lead.

Dallas Howard’s profit-driven Dealing almost falls flat, quite literally, in her ridiculous high-heeled shoes. Elsewhere it seems the writers have bitten off more than they can chew when an underdeveloped chunk of plot conceives the dinosaurs as military weapons.

Nonetheless, the park has been fully updated for the iPhone generation and stays fresh; nodding to the park of old and challenging the concept no one is really impressed with dinosaurs anymore.

Jurassic World remains keenly aware that the simple yet effective boom, boom, boom of an approaching dinosaur has more bite than elaborate, corporate attractions. If something chases you, run.

Jurassic World is at the Alnwick Playhouse this Thursday. Visit their website for further details.