Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Vincent D’Onofrio
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril
2 hr. 4 min.
The original Jurassic Park by Steven Spielberg is an absolute monster of the science-fiction genre. Like the first entries in the Alien and Terminator franchises, it introduced a new and exciting world for filmgoers and set a high standard for commercial releases in its time. Also, similar to those other franchises, however, the Jurassic Park series has not been worthwhile in what feels like forever.
While the first film had highfalutin ideas about mankind’s role in influencing evolution that managed to give it more charm than it needed (it would have been perfectly fine just as a film in which dinosaurs go around terrorizing people), the following entries in the franchise completely lost the plot — The Lost World being especially pointless. Jurassic World, directed by Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed), gets much closer to the sweet spot that Jurassic Park found by balancing intense and genuinely scary sequences (that kitchen-velociraptor one should still be able to give kids nightmares) with a passable script delivered by a solid cast. Jurassic World is certainly not as good as the original Jurassic Park, but it is plenty of fun and takes the series back into relevancy.
Not a strict reboot, Jurassic World takes place 22 years after Jurassic Park and follows Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), two employees of the supposedly functional amusement park on Isla Nublar. InGen, the evil company from the previous films, is hanging around trying to train and weaponize dinosaurs, because that is just what you do if you are evil; you replace drones with raptors. Claire tries to manage the park while her two nephews are visiting, and Owen, an expert trainer, helps with the hands-on stuff away from the exhibits.
Eventually, things go south with a genetically modified dinosaur, and people start dying; such is the nature of monster films. There is not much of a story to Jurassic World, but what little there is gets a boost from Pratt’s effortlessly endearing performance. Owen is basically a jock, but Pratt makes him much more entertaining than the average archetype. The rest of the cast that surrounds him similarly elevates the material above the mundane. Vincent D’Onofrio, who gave one of television’s best recent performances earlier this year as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, makes his InGen-loyal Hoskins a delightful villain.
Really, though, audiences do not come to a Jurassic film for the story; a good one is only a bonus. At the core of every fan is the desire to see dinosaurs wreak havoc on nameless bystanders. By that measurement, Jurassic World is a success. The tension in some scenes matches anything the series has done thus far, and the third act is basically a Godzilla movie in which monsters fight monsters and the humans are just left watching, probably thinking, “Why am I even here?”
The novelty of seeing dinosaurs on the big screen has yet to wear off, too, so the spectacle of the whole experience is worth the price of admission for anyone looking to escape into it. And the number of people who are eager to do that is staggering, as Jurassic World is already smashing box office records — 2015 is clearly the right time to get people talking about something other than superheroes. It is hard to imagine many people being disappointed with Jurassic World, although it probably won’t legitimately wow anyone, either. Diehards will be happy to see a beloved series return to form, and the uninitiated will feel as though they are visiting the actual park and seeing something wondrous for the first time.