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Jurassic Park was frightening, exciting, and full of childlike wonder; a great film that the whole family could enjoy. Its sequels, on the other hand, were pretty disappointing. They felt as though they were designed to ride the wave of popularity that the original film enjoyed, and they were slightly weak as a result. Now, after 14 years, the series is being revisited in the form of Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, and unlike the previous sequels it more than manages to live up to expectations.

Jurassic World isn’t a reboot or a remake, instead it marks a continuation of the series as we see a fully functional dinosaur theme park running quite smoothly, to begin with. This film recognises its roots, capitalising on the whimsical feeling that the first glimpse of the park provided in Jurassic Park by having a parallel reveal, and also by incorporating a similar score. There are also explicit references to the first film, as characters use John Hammond’s failure as an example of the kind of mishaps that they look to avoid, and park technician Lowery Cruthers, played by Jake Johnson, even sports a Jurassic Park t-shirt.

Nevertheless, knowledge of the first film in the franchise isn’t a prerequisite for enjoying Jurassic World. It works perfectly well as a stand-alone movie, which is important given that a new generation of moviegoers are a key part of the audience, but it also acknowledges existing fans. Fans of the series will be able to appreciate how Jurassic World utilises everything that made Jurassic Park such a brilliant blockbuster, but there’s also plenty of entertainment for newcomers to the series.

The film itself revolves around four key characters; velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), head of operations at the park Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), and brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins), who just so happen to be Claire’s nephews. Jurassic World follows this group of characters as they attempt to evade the attention of a dinosaur that has escaped containment. The dinosaur, known as the Indominus Rex, has been genetically engineered by the park’s scientists in order to generate renewed interest in the park, and because of this it has heightened senses and the ability to camouflage, which makes it all the more difficult to capture.

Within the nooks and crannies of the plot there’s a lot of substance, as the focus on genetic engineering allows for exploration in a number of underlying themes, such as playing god, corporate greed, and humanity’s role in the food chain. These ideas are implicitly addressed by the characters, but they aren’t the main focus – action set pieces are thrust to the forefront, which is fine in a summer blockbuster because it must satisfy a wider audience. These set pieces are spectacular and are complemented by brilliant special effects, which more than justify the ticket price.

Performances across the board are pretty great, particularly Bryce Dallas Howard’s, as she manages to make her character likeable despite the fact that she’s a control freak who negligently allows her nephews to roam the park alone. Her character could’ve easily fallen flat or even been absolutely unbearable, but Howard was charming enough to keep the audience on her side, especially when she was trading one-liners with Chris Pratt.

Jurassic World is a thoroughly entertaining summer blockbuster with all the charm and spectacle that you would expect from a film about Disneyland with dinosaurs. The plot, special effects, and the performances were all spot on, and I was more than satisfied with the way that the film balanced its underlying themes against the scale it was going for. It was a great experience, and with a sequel on the cards I’m very excited to see how this series will evolve.