With its awesome dinosaur action – and OK, it’s beyond moronic humans –“Jurassic World” is some of the most fun you will have at the movies this summer.
Within the “Jurassic” franchise, “Jurassic World” is no “Park” but it is without a doubt the best of the sequels.
“Jurassic World” works like a hybrid reboot-sequel to the 1993 classic. It’s a sequel in that it takes place 20 years after the original and makes more references to the previous film than not. But it’s also a reboot because it is almost entirely the exact same film front to back. “Jurassic World” follows the original film’s formula to a fault; many characters, plot points, shots, action staging all mirror the first film. This could be considered “Jurassic Park 1.2.”
The original Jurassic Park has been modified, expanded and is now open and bustling with tourists. In the film’s reality, the world is already used to the idea that dinosaurs are back and have moved on. To boost sales, the park’s owner Masrani (Irrfan Khan) financed the creation of a new hybrid dinosaur - The Indominus Rex – with the hopes of scoring more profits out of the tourists. The park’s stereotypical, two-dimensional work-a-holic manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) franticly buzzes throughout the park ensuring all runs smoothly before the big reveal, all while neglecting to babysit her estranged visiting nephews. Claire calls upon her ex-flame and dino expert Owen (Chris Pratt) to check on the Indominus Rex paddock’s safety before the big event. But of course nothing goes as planned and the Indominus Rex escapes and both dinosaurs and tourists are on the menu. Only Chris Pratt and his team of trained raptors can save the day.
Director Colin Trevorrow (with this being only his second feature film) has some mighty big director shoes to fill after Steven Spielberg’s original two films and Joe Johnston’s third. Trevorrow, though, proves within the film’s first 20 minutes that he was the right director for the job.
Though the humans in this movie are truly expendable, Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire is the most jarring and problematic. In a summer that includes the incredible Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Jurassic World” has regressed to the prehistoric age of treating women as pathetic damsels in distress. Joss Whedon even called out the film’s apparent sexism in a tweet earlier in the summer. In addition to that sad damsel-in-distress stereotype is the idea that a successful woman can only be portrayed as a heartless, partner-less and child-less being. “Jurassic World” takes up both ends of the spectrum within the same character... and they both feel glaringly out of place in 2015.
Chris Pratt drops the goofy demeanor that shot him to international stardom with “Guardians of the Galaxy.” His dino expert/trainer Owen is cut of same cloth as classic and traditional Hollywood adventurers. Pratt isn’t nearly as humorous here as usual but he is without question completely engaging and always entertaining.
Despite Pratt’s charisma, his dynamic with Howard is forced. There are attempts to turn Pratt and Howard into a Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn relationship a la “The African Queen” but fails miserably because Claire is such a horrendously written character. The best character in the film, though, belongs to Jake Johnson (“New Girl”) as the nerdy control room operator who runs the park. Also rounding out the cast is Vincent D’Onofrio as the stereotypical villain who wants to steal the dinos for military purposes and our “Jurassic Park” returning champion B.D. Wong as the dino engineer.
The humans are only a byproduct here. They remain as ignorant as ever when it comes to dino danger and when they are inevitably picked off, there is little more reaction needed than an obvious shoulder shrug. But enough about the humans … “Jurassic World” is all about the dinosaurs.
There is enough dino-on-dino action here to quench the thirst of even the most diehard monster movie fan. The action sequences that rely on the Indominus Rex fighting his brethren are some damn fine exciting moments. And it's not just the colossal hybrid dinosaur that takes the spotlight. Trevorrow throws just about every available dinosaur into the blender. There's even a clever homage to Alfred Hitchcock's “The Birds” featuring pterodactyls.
As is par for the course, “Jurassic World” is CGI-heavy, and for the most part, the digital effects are seamless. There’s even a scene here – which is as rare today as finding a dinosaur fossil in your own backyard – that features an animatronic dinosaur.
Unlike the other “Jurassic” sequels, “Jurassic World” takes some time out to re-visit the spectacle and awe of being among dinosaurs. Trevorrow updates the iconic island arrival and dinosaur reveal sequence from the original film with a rather spectacular aerial tour through the new park as John Williams’ classic, splendid theme soars, showing once again the power and effectiveness of great film music married to impressive visuals. The fantastic score this time is composed by Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino, who handles both the spectacle and horror with aplomb, adding his own soaring melody which nicely compliments Williams’ original.
Whether or not there was any real demand for another “Jurassic Park” movie, “Jurassic World" proves that it’s still tons of fun to run with dinosaurs.
Universal Pictures. Running time: 2 hours and 3 minutes. Rated: PG-13.