With Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio. Written Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Colin Trevorrow & Derek Connolly. Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril. 124 minutes.
Set up as a sequel to “Jurassic Park” (1993)–as if the other two sequels never happened–JURASSIC WORLD falls somewhere between the various “Transformers” movie and last year’s new “Godzilla” on the summer action movie scale. The plotting and characterization is about an inch deep, but it does raise some interesting points along the way to its mega-dinosaur smackdown finale.
It’s some years after the events of the first film, and the original dinosaur park has been replaced by a new one that seems to be a cross between Sea World and Disney World. Gray (Ty Simpkins) and his older brother Zach (Nick Robinson) have been sent there for a vacation with their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the chic and very busy marketing person. She leaves the boys in the care of an assistant with “VIP passes” for the park.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, trouble is brewing. Our dashing hero Owen (Chris Pratt), has successfully trained a group of young raptors (the vicious killers of the first film) to take his commands, and Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) can’t wait to develop the military applications of this breakthrough. Meanwhile, Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) has been giving Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the owner of the park, what he wants: bigger and scarier dinosaurs. His latest is a “hybrid” dubbed Indominus Rex and, as you might have guessed, it gets loose.
From thereon out, many people will get chomped on or otherwise killed, the two brothers will face danger, Aunt Claire and Owen will find love–and save each other’s lives, and there will be a big showdown with Indominus. It’s all rather predictable, but Pratt and Howard are engaging, the two kids aren’t too annoying, and D’Onofrio is a suitable heavy. There are a few original twists–not many, but a few–and the special effects are top notch.
While there’s the obvious discussion about scientific research getting out of a control without any moral compass, the real bite here–other than that of the dinosaurs–is the satiric take on a theme park. From the merchandising to the movie’s look at how easily the public becomes jaded with the newest attractions, this is something that will seem very familiar, in spite of the fantastic nature of the park. The “children’s park” with a petting zoo and baby dinosaur rides is inspired.
Those who feel the film somehow falls short of the original may either have blurry memories of it or else saw it as impressionable kids, because though it boasted what were, at the time, incredibly impressive cutting edge effects–and a cast with greater star power–it was as predictable as this film: science goes wrong, people die, kids are endangered, and there’s a big climactic fight between man and dinosaur. Like this new entry, it was a summer fun ride at the movies.
“Jurassic World” is fun, but parents (and squeamish people) be warned: it is very violent. There are numerous onscreen deaths, and though you don’t exactly see entrails on screen, the blood does flow freely. Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that the mysterious members of the Ratings Board think this is a PG-13 film.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His most recent book is “Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide.” He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.