9 out of 10
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Jurassic World has been up and running for a number of years and they’re ready to introduce their next attraction, a genetic hybrid dinosaur called Indominus Rex. When the deadly creature escapes, the park’s director Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) has to call upon dino expert Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to find and rescue her nephews Gray and Zach (Ty Sympkins, Nick Robinson), who are trapped somewhere in the park with the monster on the loose.
Fourteen years after Jurassic Park III, the attempt to revive and relaunch the franchise based on Michael Crichton’s books seems like it could be a fruitless effort if not for the fact that they took the simplest and most obvious idea and were actual able to turn it into something that’s as exciting as Steven Spielberg’s original movie.
Make no mistake that this isn’t a reboot as much as it is a direct sequel to the original Jurassic Park–you can debate with your friends whether the other two movies happened or not–with the fully-realized “Jurassic World” being a cross between a petting zoo, an African safari and SeaWorld. As one might imagine, it drives people to the remote Costa Rica island in droves. As cool as the dinosaurs are, it’s still a business and they’re constantly trying to create new attractions or assets to keep people coming, and their new “Indominus Rex” is a new super dinosaur that’s been genetically created to be cooler and scarier to audiences who have grown weary with normal dinosaurs (In some ways, it’s the perfect analogy for summer blockbusters in general.)
Along comes Chris Pratt, a “dinosaur whisperer” of sorts, who seems to be able to control a quartet of velociraptors through close training. He has been called in to see if the Indominus’ paddock is secure – it’s not. The Rex escapes and the park’s owner and director will do everything to keep it quiet as the deaths start to mount. By now, you would think they’d know that this can’t possibly work out, but with a new benefactor in Irrfan Khan and Vincent D’Onofrio as a military man wanting to use Owen’s raptors as a weapon, you have plenty of rooms for mistakes and for things to go wrong. From this simplest of premises leads to absolute mayhem, the kind that’s only hinted at in any of the trailers or commercials.
As much as director Colin Trevorrow is trying to create his own identity as a filmmaker, it’s hard to ignore the number of nods and references and even direct visual homages to Spielberg’s original movie, which to some might seem like direct kowtowing to the fans. I’m not in that camp as I loved all the direct connections to Jurassic Park, because they help drive home the fact that Trevorrow has also been able to brilliantly capture the tone and spirit of Spielberg’s movies. Much of that comes down to the inclusion of Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson as central characters rather than making it all about Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady, and in some ways, he’s just there to help facilitate the needs of Bryce Dallas Howard’s neurotic park director.
Probably Trevorrow’s most difficult task was finding just the right balance between humor and terror and while Pratt plays a key role in that equation thanks to surprisingly solid chemistry with Howard, it’s Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed star Jake Johnson who offers some of the film’s funniest comic relief as one of the park techs. You can generally tell who is going to be dino-fodder by their behavior, and there’s a fairly clear delineation between the good guys and bad, which helps to create lots of moments that will warrant a cheer from the audience. When a summer movie’s able to do that, I consider it a great success.
Half of me wishes I was able to see the movie in IMAX 3D, since it seems like a movie that would be even better in the larger format and there are plenty of moments that should work well in 3D, but the film’s CG visuals and integrating the humans and dinos generally stands up to the earlier films.
The film gets so intense by the second act that it creates this strange dichotomy since younger kids love dinosaurs and there are aspects of Jurassic World that’s clearly made to appeal to them–having cool raptors, for instance–but there are other things that seems like it would give them nightmares, so parents should be careful with their younger tots.
The Bottom Line:
When it comes down to it, reactions will certainly vary based on what viewers are hoping for/expecting, but I personally found Jurassic World to be fantastic fun and (dare I say it?) as good as the original movie.