Immediately after the Don’t Panic megagame I took my nine year old son Alexander to see Jurassic World at the cinema. We saw the 3D version (although I don’t think that the 3D added anything to the experience).

I wasn’t expecting it to be a fantastic movie from a story/plot/realism perspective. Jurassic World is the fourth in the Jurassic Park franchise, and some of the earlier ones were a bit ropey.  I couldn’t quite see how any government would license a dinosaur park given the mistakes of the previous attempts, especially the last one that set a T Rex loose in a major American city.

The movie worked though. It paid homage to the previous movies and acknowledged the need for absolute safety.  It also showed a lot of safety measures as background too. It also showed the science having moved on a lot in the 20 years or so.

JWSuperBowlTrailer-Raptors1Not just the science, but also the animal behaviour understanding. One of the main characters is an ex navy seal that works on training raptors. I found this bit really interesting, and it was a better way of explaining how the raptor pack hunting approach works than the original Jurassic Park managed.

As you would expect there is a lot of visual spectacle in the movie. It rivals the original Jurassic Park (it probably does it way better, but as the movie acknowledges the novelty has worn off and there is a continual need to innovate to keep the visitors coming). I certainly enjoyed the visual stuff, and the movie did impress me. That said, there were certainly many bits that were pure Hollywood and not really necessary to tell the story nor to make it more visually appealing (I mean, dinosaurs).

Jurassic-World-Claire-Dearing-2There were lots of bits I quite liked in it. Starting with the fact that the younger boy, Gray, is pretty much my son. He looks different, but has the same approach to dinosaurs (and a whole bunch of other stuff, notably lego, marvel superheroes, and minecraft).  I also loved Chris Pratt‘s ex-Navy raptor training character and his interplay with Bryce Dallas Howard as the boy’s Aunt Claire, the Ops Director for the park. She was pretty kick ass too when it was called for, and a hard-nosed businesswoman beforehand too.

The story line was what you expect for the franchise. Jurassic World is the rebuilt Jurassic Park, with a much higher safety rating and a majority of plant eaters. The raptors are absent from the park, although there is a small training farm elsewhere on the island, run by Chris Pratt’s character. It’s a research station and they’re trying to work out what makes the raptors tick, and they’ve even managed to train them. The downside is that one of the security contractors is interested in weaponising the raptors for the US military.

Over in the main park the new billionaire is a budding helicopter pilot (although we see that he hasn’t got the hang of it quite yet). He’s also been funding trans-genetic inventions to pep up the park and attract more visitors. The latest invention is a bigger version of a T Rex, crossed with some other things. The movie opens with two eggs hatching, but only one survives to the main section of the movie, the sibling was eaten. So we’ve got a big bad beastie, which is established as vicious, clever and slightly mysterious.

Predictably it gets loose, and a couple of the park workers get eaten. The park owners have learnt from the previous times though. There are a series of safety fences, and also every dinosaur is tracked with a device that can stun it if it crosses one of the perimeter zones. There’s also a containment team, armed with a variety of non-lethals and recruited from combat veterans. ACU deploy out to the tracking beacon and find it, in a lump of flesh. Sadly for them the non-lethals didn’t work, but if they had there wouldn’t have been a movie to watch.

So while a lot of it is predictable, because it needs to be there to keep the movie going, there’s also a lot of nuance and detail that is really good. There are several moments when I wondered how they were going to save things, and the answers were satisfying. So I was really pleasantly surprised by the movie. I would certainly recommend it as a good trip to the cinema.