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Fourteen years on from the last of the dinosaur franchise, Jurassic World takes an ethical look at the park. Review by KIM TAYLOR-FOSTER

WHAT’S better than a Tyrannosaurus Rex? Well, it depends on your definition of ‘better’. Jurassic Park 2 thought it was a whole family of T Rexes, while Jurassic Park 3 thought it was airborne prehistoric terrors – aka pteranodons. The fourth instalment, which comes 14 years after the last, is adamant it’s a man-made hybrid dinosaur. And they’re not wrong if the box office takings so far are anything to go

This latest dinosaur movie models itself on the modern-classic original, interweaving references to its predecessor throughout. From the obvious discovery of the remnants of the original park to the less apparent placing of a book by Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) in the background of a scene, it’s awash with reverential references. It models itself on success, and comes up trumps.

The film plunges us directly into a re-launched theme park on the remote Isla Nublar. It’s up and running and taking visitors, 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park. Only, to keep visitor numbers rising, the park’s policy is to introduce new ‘attractions’ into the mix. The latest? A top-secret, new hybrid dinosaur that’s more dangerous than a T Rex.

But they’ve grossly underestimated its character, of course, and the meat-munching beast escapes to cause havoc. With a private security firm wanting to appropriate the creatures and the park’s research and development team for dubious uses, it’s down to a kind but badass velociraptor trainer (Chris Pratt) to save the day.

Like the first film, it places a couple of children at its heart – putting them in peril and allowing everyone around them to show their true colours.

Their aunt, park operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) – all starched clothes, nude heels and razor-sharp hair – is charged with looking after them. She starts out as a cold, hands-off, child-fearing workaholic whose main interest is keeping the park ticking over and making sure the tourists flock and the money rolls in.

The crisis brings out the best in her but her transformation doesn’t quite ring true. She can’t shake off the ruthless businesswoman persona she presents at the start – it’s just not something that tousled hair, running in heels and the attentions of Chris Pratt can fix.

Pratt himself brings his particular brand of likeability to the Jurassic universe – he’s not quite Star Lord here but he certainly carries the very welcome baggage of his Guardians of the Galaxy character with him, and a tufty ’tache to boot.

Vincent d’Onofrio is the film’s baddest bad guy amid a cast of characters whose morals are across-the-board questionable. Events in the Jurassic universe have progressed to a point where all accept its existence; it’s the ethics of breeding and what the
creatures are used for that’s called into question.

There are some interesting issues raised over Western society and our treatment of animals, not least in the unjustifiably cruel death meted out to one of the female characters, which sticks in the throat – literally. For the most part, Jurassic World is the dinosaur franchise back to its best.

Jurassic World (12A)
Running time 2hr 4mins
Rating: ****

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