— The following post contains spoilers.
If ever there was a useless addition to a franchise, it’s LEGO Jurassic World: The Indominus Escape.
Seeming to exist purely to capitalise on Jurassic World’s success with children, and to advertise the LEGO versions of the film’s various characters — human and otherwise — it presents a very skewed retelling of the events of Jurassic World, in which most of the big moments still happen, but for very different reasons.
THE INDOMINUS ESCAPE
As ultimately pointless as it is, however, that I can’t deny that I had quite a bit of fun with The Indominus Escape. It does a great job of making light of some of the sillier aspects of Jurassic World —
— and, though much of its attempts at humour get a smile and nothing more, has one or two moments that are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, the best of these easily being the reveal of the film crew hired to document the park’s newest attraction.
Said attraction is, of course, the Indominus rex, commissioned by an aggressively stupid version of Claire to compensate for Masrani’s abysmal piloting skills having destroyed the park’s aviary.
Ridiculous though it may seem, I vastly prefer the LEGO Indominus to the one we we’re presented with in the actual film. Ignoring its ludicrous obsession with hotdogs, I find the look of the thing to be more satisfying, more Raptor-like. It keeps the red eyes I wish they’d stuck with for the ‘actual’ beast, and the bucket-like lower jaw — which I’m really not a fan of — is much less pronounced.
In fact, hybrids are much more satisfying across the board in The Indominus Escape. In no small part, I think, due to the fact that it doesn’t have to take them seriously, they simply work better here.
The same goes for the human characters, too.
In Jurassic World itself, I find there to be very little redeeming qualities to Owen. It’s a matter of personal preference and expectations more than an issue with Chris Pratt’s performance, but I had hoped Mr. Grady would prove to be a more serious character than what we’ve come to expect from Pratt. Needless to say, I was disappointed. In The Indominus Escape, however, I found him likeable, and enjoyed the character quite a bit.
I have similar sentiments about Hoskins, whose portrayal here, brief though it is, is genuinely amusing.
The only really questionable portrayal is that of Claire.
Above, I described her character in The Indominus Escape as being aggressively stupid — and that’s no exaggeration. She is, to put it lightly, a disaster — and, though she does manage to defuse the situation with the Velociraptors, her ‘big’, redeeming moment from Jurassic World is, here, given to Owen.
At the end of the day, The Indominus Escape is pretty much what you’d expect it to be: a half-hour of lighthearted fun that a lot of Jurassic’s younger fans will love.
Of course, some of the franchise’s not-so-young fans will love it, too. For this group, however, I think it also represents something to be worried about — which brings me nicely to…
A CAUTIONARY TALE
The seventh track on John Williams’ soundtrack for Jurassic Park is called Welcome to Jurassic Park. For me, it’s the best track on the album — certainly the one I’ve listened to most over the years. Opening with the gentle piano melody that brings the film to a close, the remainder of the track is a compilation, if you will, of the film’s most recognisable themes.
In grand, sweeping tones, it speaks of Isla Nublar, its dinosaurs, and the promise of its park — until its closing seconds, when the mood changes entirely, and it warns of something darker, something dangerous and, ultimately, inevitable.
Though some might consider a bit of a stretch, I think this basic structure — mostly fun, but tinged with something decidedly not — is a fitting analogy for The Indominus Escape. For the most part, it’s an entertaining enough addition to the franchise, but it’s also representative of a worrying trend that has become apparent since the release of Jurassic World: toys, tie-in products, clothing, video games — everything about the franchise is being geared explicitly towards children.
Now, you might argue that isn’t surprising (or anything new; I very well might have felt the same way had I been an adult at the time of the original film's release), and you’d have something of a point — as disappointing as it is, integrity-wise, kids represent the biggest market for the Jurassic franchise, so it’s to be expected that it’d be geared towards them.
Thing is, though: this continued infantilisation is a bit of a slap in the face for the fans who have kept the franchise from extinction over the years, those who have been there since the early days, who — though they may still be at heart — are not kids anymore, and who’d like to see something a little bit more mature from their favourite franchise.
It’s not as if the potential isn’t there.
Time, time, and time again, I’m told by people that Jurassic Park is a kid’s film — and time, time, and time again, I gently remind them that it’s not, that children love dinosaurs, and so love Jurassic, however much it might frighten them.
That was just as true in the nineties as it is now (even if the franchise itself has moved away from its more serious beginnings, if it has, at risk of sounding somewhat harsh, dumbed-down a little), and my most fervent hope, as we head into 2017 and beyond, is that the people in control of the franchise realise this, that they open themselves up to taking some risks, rather than continuing to put out stuff that they know will sell, simply because children will buy it.
Newsflash, Universal: we’re not all kids anymore.
2011. Yes, you read that right: 2011. That’s the last time there was a Jurassic game of any real significance. Whilst an enjoyable treat, LEGO Jurassic World wasn’t at all what the majority of fans have been waiting for, and with the commercial success of Jurassic World, it should have been but an appetiser for bigger, better things to come. Well… fire the waiter, and send some raptors into the kitchen to see what’s up, because we’re still waiting for the main course.
Jurassic is a franchise that lends itself to any number of genres, and there's certainly no shortage of ideas for possible games. It really is about time one came along. Yes, there are rights involved, deals to be made and permissions to be gotten, but, let's be honest: it's going to happen.
Life will find a way, and someone will make one. Why not you?