Hold onto your butts! In ‘Jurassic World,’ fans return to Stephen Spielberg’s theme park gone wrong for an island full of dino thrills

Movie review by Fines Massey

There’s a soft spot in my heart for the “Jurassic Park” series, as it was one of the first movies I saw in the theater that really made me notice the true magic of cinema. These were dinosaurs brought to life on the big screen. They were both amazing and terrifying at the same time.

Thanks to Hollywood’s inability to come up with new ideas (and this time I’m actually thankful), I got to share that experience with my sons. As we watched the fourth film in the series, “Jurassic World,” I couldn’t help but smile as I glanced over at my kids and watched them as they stared at the big screen (sometimes from the edge of their seats and others glued to the back of the seat, gripping their armrests). In a world of YouTube-length attention spans, not a single one of them had to get up during the movie. None of them fidgeted, none complained and none mysteriously had to go to the bathroom five times in two hours. That is true movie magic.

Indie director Colin Trevorrow, who also co-wrote the movie, had some big shoes to fill when he signed on to enter the world that had previously been brought to the big screen by Steven Spielberg. While Trevorrow lives up to his predecessor’s skill at thrilling audiences, he never quite reaches the heights of amazement that Spielberg created in the original. With all the bells and whistles that two decades into the future could afford the young filmmaker, he still couldn’t recreate the awe-inspiring scenes that Spielberg could with animatronics. But, then again, maybe like the teenager in this movie, we’re all just jaded by the fancy computer effects that threaten to take over every summer blockbuster.

“Jurassic World” is set 22 years after the catastrophic events of “Jurassic Park” (and is the actual number of years since the first film, which makes me feel old). In the wake of that disaster, John Hammond’s company, InGen, has created a new theme park on the same South American island called Jurassic World.

As ticket sales start to dwindle, InGen not content with just bringing extinct species back to life decides to create a whole new species. The investors want bigger, scarier and more teeth, which I think is basically what producers tell screenwriters and directors when they want a sequel. After tinkering with many species of reptiles, fish and dinosaurs, the giant, hybrid dinosaur called Indominus Rex is created.

Just as the new dinosaur is to be unveiled, brothers Zach (Nick Robinson), the older, jaded and disinterested of the two, and Gray (Ty Simpkins), the younger and much more fascinated of the two, are shipped off to Jurassic World to spend a week hanging out at the theme park, which just so happens to be run by their aunt, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard).

The workaholic Claire pawns the boys off on an assistant, so she can continue to stay behind the controls at the park’s main office. The boys ditch their babysitter and go off track on a neat little attraction at the park called a gyrosphere, which allows guests to ride alongside dinosaurs in a giant see-through plastic bubble, just in time for everything to go haywire.

Unsurprisingly Indominus Rex escapes from his paddock and starts wreaking havoc on the park. Claire enlists the help of velociraptor trainer and all around man’s man Owen (Chris Pratt sealing his position as a leading man) to help her find her nephews amidst the chaos that has taken over Jurassic World.

Thrown into the mix is a weird story line about how InGen security head and resident creeper Vic (Vincent D’Onofrio) wants to use Owen’s trained raptors for the military. He thinks that the raptors that Owen has trained could be used in wars instead of soldiers, and he thinks using them to track down Indominus Rex would be a great way to prove their skills. It’s an odd turn that works within the contexts of the movie, but it also feels like a threadbare plot line that the movie makers will most likely follow up in what will have to be an inferior sequel.

For the most part, “Jurassic World” is one long chase scene where the human characters are merely there to be scared, run or be eaten. None of the actors are given much of a character arc aside from annoying teen becomes less annoying or type A personality woman becomes slightly more laid back. Although none of the characters get to make the jump into the third dimension, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of “Jurassic World.” Like the classic monster movies that came before it, “Jurassic World” knows that the villainous dinosaurs are the real stars of the film, and they even get a chance to prove that in the movie’s third act that harkens back to the old “King Kong” and “Godzilla” movies. It’s fantastically cheesy.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Trevorrow

Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins and Vincent D’Onofrio

Runtime: 2 hours and 3 minutes

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril

Grade B+

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

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