At the start of Colin Trevorrow’s reboot of “Jurassic Park,” Claire, the sharp workaholic corporate executive running the revamped Costa Rica Jurassic World (Bryce Dallas Howard) is forced to track down Owen, the strapping ex-Navy man who has been successfully training her Velociraptors (Chris Pratt). The second they meet (above), sparks fly and we know that yes, indeed, nature will win.
Over the course of the movie, just as Mad Max (Tom Hardy) regains his humanity and his clothes over the course of “Fury Road,” Howard loses most of hers, although she does have to run in heels. ‘Twas ever thus. Mercifully, the screenwriters (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”‘ Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, followed by Trevorrow & “Safety Not Guaranteed” partner Derek Connolly) allow her to run faster than Pratt, use a gun, and rise to the occasion of having to save her two young nephews (“if somebody chases you, run!”) who have gone rogue in the off-limit areas of the park where the wily bigger-better-fiercer lab creation Indominus Rex–designed to boost flatlining park attendance– is wreaking havoc. (Yes, it’s a commentary on Hollywood today.)
Of course the boys have multiple encounters with the towering 50 foot creature, who is angry indeed at having been kept captive with only a sister Rex to devour. And as the rules of this kind of filmmaking dictate, they do survive. And Claire proves unable to resist the sexy Owen, who understands dinosaurs, young boys and women. Pratt, who broke out as an accessibly funny hero in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” only adds to his allure here. He has a long career in front of him and if this was his audition for the next Indiana Jones, give him the job.
I happily watched “Jurassic World” in IMAX 3-D, which unfolded in that utterly satisfying way that rarely comes along: you sort of know what’s going to happen and enjoy it when it does, accompanied by strains of John Williams’ original score, artfully –and often overwhelmingly–added to by composer Michael Giaccino. There’s a delicious “Jaws” homage, and when the pterodactyls are unleashed from their dome, they attack the park attendees –just like “The Birds.” And for those of us who watch “Walking Dead,” as Owen hides under a truck as Indominus tracks him, he pours gas on himself to cover his human smell.
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And we know exactly which denizens of the park are going to get eaten by Indominus Rex, and wait for the moment when our military villain who sends the raptors after their quarry (well-played by Vincent D’Onofrio) inevitably gets his.
So far Rotten Tomatoes is at 67% but that will change as more reviews break. But safe to say this is one behemoth where the reviews will have zero effect.
More than two decades since the release of “Jurassic Park,” few American blockbusters have captured the same kind of unfettered childlike wonder. Steven Spielberg’s ability to transform the potentially absurd portrait of dinosaurs eating people into awe-inducing territory defines Hollywood filmmaking of the highest order — pure spectacular cinema with big, sharp teeth. It’s the opposite of the “stupid movie” paradigm so often associated with movies of its scale.
Jurassic World doesn’t have an equivalent of Samuel L Jackson’s chain-smoking employee Arnold from the first film, or indeed anything like its all-but-subliminal reference to J Robert Oppenheimer. But this is still a terrifically enjoyable and exciting summer spectacular: savvy, funny, ridiculous in just the right way, with some smart imaginative twists on the idea of how dinosaurs could be repositioned in a consumer marketplace where they are almost commonplace, and how the military might take a sinister interest in weaponising these scary beasts.
Intensely self-conscious of its status as a cultural commodity even as it devotedly follows the requisite playbook for mass-audience blockbuster fare, “Jurassic World” can reasonably lay claim to the number two position among the four series entries, as it goes down quite a bit easier than the previous two sequels. The 14-year layoff since the last one may well have helped, in that the new film’s perspective on antiseptic, theme park-style tourism and relentless commercialization, while hardly radical, plainly announces its makers’ sense of humor about their own project’s multi-faceted mercantile motives. Although not terribly scary, and closer to PG than R in its frights and gore, Universal’s big summer action release is sufficiently toothsome to make audiences everywhere happy for a return visit to a once-wild world that superficially looks as safe and domesticated as a Universal Studios tour.
“No one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore,” notes one character early on in “Jurassic World,” and it’s easy to imagine the same words having passed through the lips of more than one Universal Studios executive in the years since Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg’s 1993 “Jurassic Park” shattered box-office records, along with the glass ceiling for computer-generated visual effects. Two decades and two lackluster sequels later, producer and studio have spared few expenses in crafting a bigger, faster, noisier dinosaur opus, designed to reclaim their place at the top of the blockbuster food chain. What they’ve engineered is an undeniably vigorous assault of jaw-chomping jolts and Spielbergian family bonding that nevertheless captures only a fraction of the original film’s overflowing awe and wonderment. Which should still be more than enough to cause a T-Rex-sized ripple effect at the summer multiplex turnstile.