The 400-Word Review: Jurassic World
By Sean Collier
June 15, 2015
Jurassic World, the fourth film in the resurrected-dinosaur franchise originally helmed by Steven Spielberg, does what the disappointing second and third installments neglected to do: simply ape the original film.
The precise chemistry that made 1993’s Jurassic Park a classic can’t quite be quantified, but it can be partially categorized: A range of characters, with varying reasons to be on the island. Contemplation of man’s attempts to master nature. Depictions of the folly inherent in trying to monetize the unpredictable. Gallows humor.
And large dinosaurs, occasionally eating people.
In Jurassic World, a dino theme park has been successfully opened on Isla Nublar, the site of the original park’s construction. Business is booming and things are (reasonably) safe around the island, but park higher-up Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, quite good) is looking ahead: If they don’t introduce some new attractions, the public’s interest will wane. And they already have all the biggest, scariest dinosaurs — so, naturally, they’ll have to mess with the genes until they get a bigger, scarier version.
Meanwhile, ex-Naval officer Owen (Chris Pratt, perfectly cast) has been brought to the island to try and train the ferocious velociraptors. He’s doing surprisingly well, but the mysteriously-connected Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) wants more; he has dreams of a raptor army (a concept that shouldn’t become an actual movie, but should definitely become an XBox game.)
Things go wrong when Claire and company start showing off the superbeast, dubbed Indominus Rex. And where previous installments featured the ancient creatures running amok on a sparsely-populated island, this one is absolutely packed with park guests — including, inevitably, Claire’s two young nephews.
It’s all in pursuit to recapturing the magic of Jurassic Park, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes Jurassic World, as directed by the relatively inexperienced Colin Trevorrow and written by committee, comes very close to its goal; other times, it whiffs (those children get pretty annoying). But its intentions are in the right place, its cast does well and it’s always hard to argue with rampaging dinosaurs — particularly in the film’s knockout climax.
I won’t spoil that here, but keep in mind that this is a dinosaur adventure for the Fast and Furious generation; the new rule of blockbusters dictates that wherever the plot can go, it must go. That means that whatever dino deathmatch you’re dreaming up is a fairly safe bet — and the results are ridiculously satisfying.
My Rating: 8/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark