Friday, June 12, 2015


The world of JURASSIC PARK hasn’t quite figured out what to do with itself ever since Steven Spielberg’s 1993 earth-shaking dinosaur thrill ride. Its two sequels haven’t offered much other than arriving at a remote island, having characters scream and run around while becoming a hot lunch, making a daring escape and ending with the JURASSIC PARK theme on piano. The third sequel, and fourth overall entry in the series, JURASSIC WORLD, doesn’t quite follow that standard template and make those old mistakes, but it does make some new ones. 

Twenty years after founder John Hammond’s first park of genetically-created dinosaurs went south, Jurassic Park has finally become a reality and is fully operational. Attendance is dropping, and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), a genetic scientist, is given the task of creating a new dinosaur as a new attraction…despite the misgivings of raptor-trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). 

The first thing about JURASSIC WORLD which leaps off the screen is just how self-aware the film is. The plot of the film is concerned with making dinosaurs exciting again for the public, and right away that makes JURASSIC WORLD a parody of itself as it looks to make the novelty of people interacting with dinos feel new again. Once that initial jarring effect is over, JURASSIC WORLD gets busy with its story…and here is where the film struggles to find footing. Seemingly aware of the thin plots of its predecessors, JURASSIC WORLD crams in too many characters this time…each of which don’t serve any purpose but to provide something for the film to hinge on. Claire’s young nephew (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) exist only for the audience to experience the park through, Vincent D’Onofrio appears as a military contractor who exists only to…not do much at all, and Irrfan Khan appears as the new park owner with his heart in the right place but his head in another. None of these characters and subplots meshes very well, and JURASSIC WORLD often feels like three different movies. 

But where the characters are thin, the rest of the film is thick with excitement. Director Colin Trevorrow, in only his second feature film, utilizes and exploits every bit of terror and fun that he can out of the misplaced savage creatures. Trevorrow stages some fantastic and thrilling set-pieces with his beautifully rendered dinosaurs while generating some true terror. JURASSIC WORLD has an old-school monster-movie vibe to it, with pending doom and jaw-dropping chases and battles between creatures. There are many surprises and twists to behold, and the film never gets predictable other than the way the characters are supposed to act. Aside from the thrills and spills, Trevorrow dips into the nostalgia pool by bringing things back to the beginning, making for some very crowd-pleasing moments. 

The goddamn 3D is worthless. 

It’s in character where JURASSIC WORLD is very thin, so the actors are not given very much to do. Chris Pratt gets the most work and handles it well, and true to the classic feel of the film, feels very much like he rolled out of a 1950’s serial. Bryce Dallas Howard is just kind of there, and true to an old-school monster-flick, loses more clothing as the film goes on. Vincent D’Onofrio is a waste of time although he does okay work, and young Ty Simpkins manages to be the standout. 

After a breathtaking HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT finale, JURASSIC WORLD does indeed cue the piano music on the way out of the jungle, and the film does have that been-there, done-that feel to it. This time around the template is followed with a few detours, and despite some storytelling and scripting issues, is salvaged by the strong action sequences and edge-of-your-seat moments. Unlike the dinosaurs of old, it’s light and harmless fare. 


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