JURASSIC WORLD
Author: J.A. Hyde
June 11, 2015

SYNOPSIS: Twenty-two years after the events depicted in JURASSIC PARK, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. After 10 years of operation and visitor rates declining, in order to fulfill a corporate mandate, a new attraction is created to re-spark visitor's interest, which backfires horribly.

BIG.

Everything about Jurassic World is big.

Months of pre-release big hype, big theme park setting, big egos clashing, big gambles by genetic-splicing scientists, big cast of extras, and all resting on the big, broad shoulders of Chris Pratt – by far the best thing in it.

Jurassic World, touted to be a direct sequel to 1993’s Jurassic Park, offers big summer entertainment, but it doesn’t measure up to the original. But, then, that’s an almost impossible task seeing that Jurassic Park came from impeccable source material (Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel), had a dream cast, was directed by Steven Spielberg, and featured John Williams’s soaring musical score. Jurassic World uses the original film for its source material although it takes place 22 years later.

After disaster befell John Hammond’s ( the late Sir Richard Attenborough) idea of a theme park featuring dinosaurs cloned from mosquito blood preserved in amber, his legacy has been entrusted to Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), and Jurassic Park has become the fully-functioning, highly commercial, theme park Jurassic World, with thousands of visitors every year. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire, a career-driven, self-involved executive who heads marketing and development for the park. Isla Nublar never looked so much like Disneyland.

The only returning character, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), has developed a new, more terrifying hybrid dinosaur, Indominus Rex, to spur increased tourism to the park. Its ferocity raises questions about security, so Claire consults with ex-Navy engineer and security expert Owen (Chris Pratt) about the safety issues. Owen has been busy trying to train velociraptors (I know, I know how far-retched that idea is) so he’s unaware of the new hybrid. There’s supposed to be sexual tension between the two, but there’s simply no chemistry between them. Pratt does his best with some suggestive banter, but you can never believe these two would get together.

The story line begins when Claire’s two nephews arrive for a visit, leaving weepy Mom (Judy Greer) and stone-faced Dad (Andy Buckley) behind. Mom and Dad’s intense reactions result from a sub-plot that’s never developed. Claire, on the other hand, is so busy lining up new corporate sponsors that she doesn’t even know how old her nephews Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) are. She immediately hands them over to her assistant Zara (Katie McGrath), and her lack of supervision will, of course, lead to them being placed in harm’s way.

Owen immediately clashes with Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), a gung-ho military type, who wants to make dinosaurs into weapons. This is another sub-plot that’s also not really developed. Once they all get together at the secret facility where Indominus Rex is being kept, they discover that it has escaped. The rest of the film deals with the resulting death and destruction, and Owen and Claire’s frantic attempts to neutralize the situation. I won’t reveal any details so that you can enjoy discovering them on your own.

Chris Pratt gives the only truly convincing performance in the film. Bryce Dallas Howard seems miscast, and her performance comes off as brittle. Her character has some nice moments after she gets down off of her high horse, but the lack of chemistry with Pratt is a real let-down. D’Onofrio hams it up as the obsessive Hoskins, but his character really has nowhere to go. Nick Robinson has the thankless task of playing the sullen teen-ager, but that doesn’t mean he should have brought so little energy to the part. Ty Simpkins fares better as the younger “genius” brother, but his character feels contrived, as if he’s meant to replicate the genius younger brother from the original film.

Back in 1993, Jurassic Park created squirm-in-your-seat, cover-your-eyes tension. The two child actors, Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards, communicated real terror. The scene when they’re hiding from the velociraptors in the kitchen is classic – their fear is palpable. Nothing in Jurassic World approached that intensity, but there are enough thrills to please summer audiences. The preview audience’s reaction was positive.

My biggest problem with the film was its predictability. You can guess which characters will die, and in some cases, exactly how they’ll die. That being said, I don’t think younger viewers will care about that. There’s enough intensity in the film that I wouldn’t take kids younger than 10 to see it. There are enough big, scary-looking dinosaurs to give younger children nightmares.

I saw Jurassic World in 3-D IMAX format. I didn’t think 3-D added a thing, but I’d probably spring for the extra $ to see it in IMAX. I know the Indominus Rex is supposed to be the “star” of the dinosaurs, but my money’s on the Mososaur. - JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: B


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