by E. Ladd
It’s been 14 years, but the CGI dinosaurs are back! One of this summer’s biggest blockbusters is about to hit movie screens this weekend: Sci Fi adventure Jurassic World, the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park film franchise. Directed by Colin Trevorrow and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, we are returned once again to a world where genetically cloned monsters get all out of control, wreak havoc and rack up an impressive body count because foolish characters think they can alter Nature without consequence.
Twenty two years after the events of the first film, brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) travel to the same Central American island, Isla Nublar, to visit their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who works as operations manager for the now fully-realized, fully functional, 20,000 visitors-a-day, dinosaur theme park. Her nephews get VIP passes to all of the exhibits while workaholic Claire scurries about leading tours for future investors and shuttling newest owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) to see the park’s latest attraction, a new hybrid behemoth called the Indominus Rex. Undaunted by the events of the past, Masrani’s vision for the park involves stocking it with increasingly scarier creatures to woo more tourists and make beaucoup bucks. He has called upon lead geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (played by B.D. Wong, also seen as a geneticist in the very first Jurassic Park) to create bigger, better, and “cooler” dinosaurs. The newest one, however, is a bit of a handful so they call in former Navy man and on-site Velociraptor trainer (yes, you read that correctly) Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to assess the situation. As you might have guessed, things go a bit haywire after that.
The best part of this film is the fact that this is the operating theme park we never got to see from the imagination of creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough from the originl Jurassic Park), except that it’s more high tech, more dazzling, and it’s full of thousands more unwitting people just waiting to be gobbled up by superbly crafted CGI beasts. It’s your basic escaped monster movie, on a grand scale. There are elements borrowed from the first film, in some ways almost predictably so, but Jurassic World still stands on its own. The dinosaurs look awesome. And the broadly written characters are likable enough for us to care if they get eaten or not (even smaller characters like the control room operators played by always funny Jake Johnston and Lauren Lapkus).
Despite its PG-13 rating, there are enough violent deaths and good scares to keep you on the edge of your seat. Of course, there are also moments where the suspension of disbelief is definitely required, like how could they really not have just slightly better security? Didn’t they learn last time? And, please, for the love of God, don’t go yelling and wearing high heels in the jungle when there’s a bone-crunching T. Rex hybrid running about. There’s also the contrived performance by Vincent D’Onofrio as military InGen man Hoskins with a hard-on for weaponizing the animals that I would count as a strike against the film. Despite its slight demerits, this is a fun, summer film with a pretty raucous ending. Or as some other moviegoer at my screening enthusiastically yelled at the screen: “F**cking awesome!” Because, who doesn’t really, deep down inside, like watching giant dinosaurs rip it up on the big screen? (Especially in 3D).
Watch the trailer for Jurassic World
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