Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Science-Fiction Violence and Peril
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B.D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson & Judy Greer
In 1993, Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs to life with JURASSIC PARK. That film was a smash hit, broke records, and wowed audiences everywhere. Seeing as the movie was such a huge success, it’s not surprising that the studio wanted a sequel. In 1997, we were given THE LOST WORLD. Though that movie was far darker than the original, it lost its sense of fun and adventure. The end result was a mediocre flick and in 2001, JURASSIC PARK III effectively killed whatever potential was left for a fourth film. So now, in 2015, we have been given a bit of a reboot. JURASSIC WORLD can be taken as a direct sequel to the original film, but can also fit into the series continuity for those who want it to. It doesn’t really matter, because JURASSIC WORLD feels like the sequel that LOST WORLD should have been. It’s not as perfect as Spielberg’s classic, but is a lot of fun nonetheless!
Over two decades have passed since John Hammond’s prehistoric theme park venture failed. Thanks to the magic of science and money, Jurassic World stands in its place. A much grander version of what Hammond envisioned, this dinosaur theme park is set up with rides, cloned dino attractions, and even a Sea World-like area. Zach and Gary are two brothers visiting their aunt Claire, who happens to be the park operations manager. What they don’t know is that Claire and a group of scientists have created a secret new attraction for potential investors. Instead of simply cloning yet another extinct species, the scientists have spliced together a new dino-hybrid: Indominus Rex. This new monster is bigger, scarier, and smarter than the other dinos in the park and as a result, it breaks out of its pen. Since this is a JURASSIC PARK film, you can pretty much guess where things go from there.
Instead of following the “small band of people stranded on an island populated by dangerous dinosaurs” formula used in the previous sequels, WORLD puts a new spin on things by placing us in the active park. We get a glimpse into how this theme park functions and are shown various attractions as well as some behind-the-scenes politics that led to the creation of Indominus Rex. A lot of the humor in this film comes from the typical theme park clichés being placed into the attractions of cloned dinosaurs. Two of my favorite bits includes a disgruntled teenage ride operator and a petting zoo of baby herbivores, but there are also various live-feedings (including a sort-of Shamu show featuring a large Mosasaur) as well. Seeing as Jurassic World is a theme park loaded with patrons, it only makes sense that when the mayhem breaks loose…things get crazy. One particular sequence is out-and-out chaos and I loved it (you’ll know it when you see it).
Where JURASSIC WORLD falters is in its characters. The cast is full of A-list talent, but the roles they’re playing don’t seem like real people. Chris Pratt is enjoyable as a charismatic Velociraptor handler, but seems to be suffering a case of traileritis. By this I mean that he delivers a lot of his lines in a cryptic voice that seems specifically made for trailers and commercials…and indeed, most of these lines can be seen in the vast amount of promotional material for this movie. Like I said, traileritis. Meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard is one-dimensional as the shrewish Claire. Since she has no kids of her own and is a businesswoman, that is automatically supposed to make her into a cold and uncaring person. Yes, she eventually goes through an arc, but it still feels unconvincing. B.D. Wong reprises his role as a scientist from the original and seems to be having a lot of fun with it. Irrfan Khan is a welcome face as the park’s owner. Meanwhile, Vincent D’Onofrio is a solid antagonist who has motivations that are original to this series. In fact, I’m surprised that it took the JURASSIC franchise three films before finally including someone like D’Onofrio’s character. The best performances come from Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson as the vacationing siblings. They come off as convincing and likable brothers.
Of course, the real stars are the dinosaurs themselves. While it seems like a combination of puppetry and CGI has been used once again, it all pretty much looked like CGI to me. It’s convincing enough for the monster movie that JURASSIC WORLD is, because that’s essentially what it all boils down to. There are lots of other dinosaurs, but the Indominus Rex is the big beast here. Frankly, I thought Indominus’s design was sort of bland, but it remains scary during a number of scenes. As with all of the JURASSIC movies, the best bits involve the Velociraptors and they are at full intimidating force here. The T-Rex even shows up for a couple of memorable moments. I can’t imagine many fans being disappointed with the finale that’s hugely satisfying and drew collective gasps and cheers from the audience in the packed theater.
It may suffer from bland characters and boring creature design on the main monster, but JURASSIC WORLD is a blast of fun that should please even the most skeptical of fans to some extent. This is the JURASSIC PARK sequel that we should have received the first time around. It’s not nearly as perfect as Spielberg’s original, but it’s a hugely enjoyable summer blockbuster. The humor works. There are scenes of chaos that got big audience reactions. Dinosaurs chase and eat people. What more do you want or expect?