A fly landed on the projector lens as we enjoyed the beautifully-realised Jurassic World. It poked around the screen a while, many times its original size.
Monster fly, I thought.
You don’t know the half, whispered director Colin Trevorrow and unleashed, for the next two hours, a $150million whirlwind of super-sized ripping flesh, pounding feet and ominously rustling tree tops.
In 3D, on IMAX this was the kind of immersive ride that the fictional Jurassic World was offering its 20,000 paying guests, including mismatch brothers Zach and Gray who get caught on the frontline of nature v nurture.
Long gone are the Dickie Attenborough’s early experiments. The humungous park is up and running with the shareholders waiting for the next Big Thing to spike interest.
Because now all those stegasauruses and triceratops – are old hat, fit only for the petting zoo. The public want more teeth than a T-Rex, more bulk than a brontosaurus.
So the boffins come up with a hybrid – an indominus rex – which is, of course, ahem, safely contained and can’t possibly escape. No sirree.
If that corporate cynicism is not enough there’s some quasi-military jingoism thrown in for luck with lip-licking Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) who wants raptors to take to the battlefields of Afghanistan, the sooner the better.
Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), aunt of the brothers but too busy to care, oversees the park. She’s all spreadsheets and childlessness so we know her journey. We know all their journeys – whatever they’re lacking at the outset, they’ll get by the end, be it heart, courage or brain.
But this is not about the humans. This about the beasts. A breath-taking jungle island of them. The flying lizards may be in their vast aviary and the dippos may be munching placidly but nature, as we know from old, has its own way of thrashing out the food chain.
This return to Isla Nublar is bigger, bolder and scarier. Twenty years of cute comic dinos will not prepare the young ones for this flesh-ripping, blood-thirsty terror treat (be warned).
Nostalgic nods to the original – some old props dusted down and aged again – ensure we know that we’re among the pop culture cognescenti. They serve to remind us those were halcyon days when the park was still tethered to science rather than ticket sales.
As Godzilla rampages through the park, it is up to Chris Pratt’s Indiana Jones-a-like Owen to bring the beast to heel although not without bringing the old gang together, notably his special forces raptors.
The film is not without ropey moments – Claire is a little too automaton and the comic relief (mostly found in the form of Jake Johnson’s Lowery) is too rare – but the most oafish blunder is the attempt to anthropomorphise the murderous beasts.
“We cool?” growls one dinosaur. “We cool,” hints another, backing off.
Still, the visuals are utterly spectacular, the beast-on-beast action is as rich and bloody as a blue steak, and if there were ever to be a ramped-up homage to the ground-breaking original, this thrill-a-minute thrash ride is surely it.