‘Jurassic World’ takes a big new bite out of the classic franchise
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Vincent D’Onofrio
Directed by Colin Trevarrow
The ingredients to a new dinosaur movie are a lot the ones for a new dinosaur: Bigger, louder and more teeth.
It’s been 22 years since director Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, which broke new ground in computer-generated special effects and left audiences gasping for air with its romping, stomping tale of bio-engineered prehistoric creatures running amok. But after two sequels, the Jurassic franchise lost much of its roar—and its box-office bite. Audiences were no longer gaga for lifelike, big-screen dinosaurs.
In Jurassic World, the owners and operators of a sprawling new “living dinosaur” theme park, re-established after the downfall of the original facility, are faced with the same problem. “No one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore,” says Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the corporate operations manager. Visitors are still coming—up to 20,000 a day—but teenagers barely look up from their smartphones at a stegosaurus, investors are clamoring for greater return on their dollars, and sponsors want something with more wow and pow.
What to do? Create a bigger, badder dinosaur. Meet Indominus Rex, cooked up in Jurassic World’s lab from a monstrous mixture of dino-DNA super-traits. It’s nastier, angrier and more nightmare-inducing than any other creature, even the park’s venerable T. Rex.
Steven Spielberg is executive producer this time around, but newcomer director Colin Trevarrow loads his film with clever and nostalgic throwbacks to him and his craft, from specific camera shots to an original Jurassic Park t-shirt (one character’s EBay find) and a holographic depiction of a dinosaur that had a memorable small role back in 1993. When several characters come across a decrepit building that was once part of the old park, it looks like they’re strolling through the franchise’s long-abandoned prop room.
As Owen, a dinosaur trainer working with a group of wily, dangerous raptors, Chris Pratt is quick with a quip—even when faced with serious, life-and-death situations. Vincent D’Onofrio plays a contractor who wants to use the raptors for military purposes. “These guys’ll run straight into the enemy’s teeth and eat them, belt buckle and all,” he says.
To further stir the perfect storm, two young brothers (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) are visiting the park, sent by their parents for a weekend-adventure getaway. Guess who gets way more adventure than they ever dreamed?
The movie’s underlying theme of modern man’s hubristic drive to control—and commercialize—nature’s ancient, primal power never gets in the way of its full-throttle fun and its cavalcade of chills, thrills, stupendous state-of-the-art special effects and even outright grins and giddy giggles. Jurassic World isn’t quite the revelation that its granddaddy was, some two decades ago. But for pure summer popcorn wow-and-pow dollars, you certainly won’t find much anything bigger, louder or with more teeth.
—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine