JURASSIC WORLD: 3 ½ STARS. “has enough of its predecessor’s DNA to be worth a look.”
For the fourth time all heck breaks loose on Isla Nublar when gene-spliced dinosaurs get loose and start chowing down on humans. And you thought genetically modified food was bad for your health.
“Jurassic World” is set in a theme park of the same name, a bigger, flashier version of the one first seen in “Jurassic Park.” For years over 20,000 people a day have come to visit the dino petting zoo and see the T-Rex in his “natural” habitat. Think SeaWorld with Archaeopteryx instead of dancing dolphins and you get the idea. Business is brisk but park director Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) feels their exhibits are old hat, as exciting as a clown in an elephant suit.
“No one is impressed by dinosaurs anymore,” she says. “Consumers want bigger, louder and more teeth.”
Her solution is to genetically manufacture a designer dinosaur, a hybrid of T-Rex DNA and bits and pieces from several other creatures. Called Indominus Rex, it’s a fearsome fifty-foot tall beast with fierce intelligence and an attitude to match. When it escapes (that’s not a spoiler, just a fact of life in the “Jurassic” films) Claire calls upon dino trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt)—he’s the Cesar Millan of the dinosaur world—to bring the situation under control before her two visiting nephews get eaten or a military contractor (Vincent D’Onofrio) who wants to repurpose the beasts as weapons.
“Jurassic World” is a respectable entry into the “Jurassic Park” genus. It’s a monster movie, with a bigger, louder and toothier villain than the previous films, but not quite as many thrills. It’s near impossible to top the visceral thrills of Steven Spielberg’s original movie so director Colin Trevorrow doesn’t try. Instead he weaves an homage or two to “Jurassic Park” into the fabric of the story and makes sure there are roaring dinosaurs and snarling Raptors on screen as much as possible. They run, leap and do battle in a climatic scene that can only be described as ridonkulous. The tempered skill Spielberg brought to the first movie is replaced by bombast, but what can we expect form a movie whose manifesto is, “No one is impressed by dinosaurs anymore; consumers want bigger, louder and more teeth”?
Pratt takes a step closer to claiming the role of Indiana Jones by playing Craig as the wisecracking but charming and resourceful hero and “New Girl” star Jake Johnson offers some welcome comic relief. Howard is self-possessed and intense, and has good chemistry with Pratt.
“Jurassic World” is a fun summer distraction, with enough of its predecessor’s DNA to be worth a look.