How many times have you seen Jurassic Park since it first roared into theaters 22 years ago? Once, twice … twenty-two times? Unless your answer is ‘never,’ then you’ve pretty much already seen the new and fourth entry in the franchise, Jurassic World, which is almost a shot-by-shot re-creation of the first film, but with enough cool re-envisioned action to keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat.
Writer/Director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) lulls us into thinking we’ve seen all of this stuff before, then, just when you think the narrative is about to sink into a cinematic tar-pit, he pulls a prehistoric rabbit out of his hat and wows us with scenes that are amped-up into the red on the Dino-thrill-meter – albeit still very familiar.
As the film’s tag line states, this time the park is actually open for business; as a kind of Sea World attraction, complete with corporate sponsorship (which gets old very quick.) There are thousands of people having a terrific time seeing and even interacting with giant reptiles, completely oblivious to the ‘man v nature’ lessons learned in the previous three films.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire Dearing, one of Jurassic World’s upper-management types. She has her young nephews, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), visiting the park for the first time and they hope to have some quality time with their Aunt – and some dinosaurs.
Guardians of the Galaxy fans will have fun seeing Chris Pratt on the big screen again, even though the whole concept of his character is rather goofy. He plays Owen Grady, an ex-Navy guy who somehow is qualified to train Velociraptors, the way one might train a dog. I don’t know how being a sailor prepared him to do this job, but as a former squid myself, I’m good with seeing my seafaring homies represented.
Vincent D’Onofrio plays Hoskins, an InGen security head who routinely butts heads with Grady and his pack of trained Raptors. He wants to see the dinosaurs genetically enhanced to become super-weapons so they can be sold to the military. (Predicting this will be the plot of the next Jurassic film.)
As mentioned, nearly all of the time-tested Jurassic Park tropes are given homage in this new film, almost ad nauseam; but like any good amusement park, the rollercoaster is still pretty darn fun, even if you’ve already ridden it a few times.
Twenty-two years after the original movie, the special effects in Jurassic World are easy to take for granted, but they are nonetheless incredibly impressive. And there are some thrilling sequences in this film that are easily worth the price of admission, including a couple that are Jaws-like horrific, so I think that even (the late Jurassic Park author) Michael Crichton would give a pass on many of its redundancies and flat-out absurdities.
The bottom line is, if you liked the other films in this series, or if you love dinosaur movies in general, then you’re going to have a great time at this movie. Grade: 7.5/10
Photos © 2015 Universal Pictures