A Review by Kevin Powers
A fanboy I follow on Instagram recently posted about how disappointed he was with director Colin Trevorrow's latest installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World. I wasn't. Thankfully, I had no expectations.
I have now seen all of the Jurassic Park movies on the big screen, each one a little bit worse than the one before (until this one), but the thing is this: these movies are and always were straight up Hollywood popcorn blockbusters. They offer thrills and chills and spectacle. Nothing more, nothing less. Jurassic World is certainly no exception, and, as far as I'm concerned, it's the best since the Steven Spielberg original.
It's over twenty years since John Hammond's (Richard Attenborough) original park fell victim to heist, storm, and T-Rex all in one night. Now, his island is a super-amped-up theme park with a little Downtown Disney-esque product placement village, a petting zoo, some thrill rides in the form of gyro pod vehicles and monorails, a Sea World-type arena showcasing a badass, giant alligator dinosaur monster thing that eats whole sharks, and a new one, a hybrid, the biggest, meanest, scariest dinosaur ever devised my man.
This new dinosaur, called Indominus Rex, is not quite ready yet, but it is. It really is. It's ready to eat, to hunt, to chase, to kill, and so on and so forth. It causes a bit of a quandary early on for Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the right hand of Jurassic World's owner, the billionaire Masrani (Irrfan Khan). She is all about numbers and data points and the bottom line, trying to sell this new attraction to investors from Verizon, who want to put their name on the next big thing.
Masrani, wanting a second opinion after noticing some peculiar sights on a visit to I-Rex's pen, calls on Owen (Chris Pratt), or as I like to call him "Fights with Raptors," a former Navy man turned Velociraptor trainer. He sees the flaws in all of park's shortcomings, spouting truths about how "these are animals" and "their job is to hunt and kill." They can't be trained. They can't be harnessed. Apart from the problems brewing with Masrani and the new I-Rex, Owen has a problem of his own with Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), a military contractor bent on using his Velociraptors as weapons of war. Owen is not about that.
Added to the mix are Claire's nephews, teen ladies' man Zach (Nick Robinson) and his younger brother and dinosaur aficionado, Gray (Ty Simpkins), who have been shipped to the island by their possibly divorcing mother (Judy Greer) and father (Andy Buckley). Claire pawns the boys off on an assistant and goes on to work. Of course, it's only a matter of time before the boys are off on their own, and...
I imagine this all sounds so silly and stupid and predictable. And you would be correct. But that doesn't stop this movie from maintaining our attention fully. Trevorrow has the skills and did a job I'm sure Spielberg is proud of. This is a fun ride, a chase, a hunt. It has ample wit and humor. It has some fun throwbacks to the original film, the most clever coming from a control room employee, Lowery (Jake Johnson). The second two acts are non-stop, bloody action, nicely sprinkled with humor. Ain't nothing wrong with that!
Chris Pratt is always good, and this movie certainly hasn't changed that. I found him as likable as always, here playing part Sam Neill, part Jeff Goldblum, better looking than both combined. He has this sort of badass, know-it-all quality that some have found off-putting in reviews I've read. I liked it. He works on his Harley outside his little bungalow in a dirty shirt, biceps bulging. What a guy!
Likewise, I love, I mean I really love Bryce Dallas Howard. She is stunningly gorgeous and a fine actress. Here, she is given very little to do until way too far into the movie. But when it gets to that point, I was hooked on her once again. I loved how hosed down in sweat and dirt they kept her. It really worked for me.
Much like the original, again, Jurassic World is a movie that is all about the special effects with the human story sort of thrown in. And, again, it's the human story that doesn't work so well. The relationships and dramas feel pushed on us, especially the totally under-developed (but totally there) chemistry between the two leads. But who cares?! This isn't a masterpiece of cinema, and it was never trying to be. The dinosaur fights are freakin' sweet! The big finale being one of the finest of its kind. Oh, so much fun. For that, this movie can be recommended, especially for a fun trip to the multiplex. We all had a great time. Nothing more, nothing less.
Warning! This movie will make young kids scream and cry. It is exponentially more violent than the Spielberg original, which scared the bejeezus out of me when I saw it as an 8-year-old.