Steven Spielberg had the advantage of dazzling new computer technology to make his 1993 release, “Jurassic Park,” a cinematic joyride. The creation of the dinosaurs onscreen was almost as amazing as the technology suggested in the movie to bring back the giant beasts through found DNA.
Since then, audiences have been fed a steady diet of computer-generated creatures and characters to the point its become somewhat passe. That didn’t bode well for “Jurassic World,” the fourth film in the series based on the Michael Crichton books.
“Jurassic World” serves as a reminder that it wasn’t just the dazzling CGI work in “Jurassic Park” that made it such a masterpiece. It was also the combination of that imagery with a solid story, interesting characters and a pacing that bounces between terror and humor with ease.
All of those elements come together again to make “Jurassic World” such pure entertainment fun it will easily be one of the biggest movies at the box office this summer.
The film starts on shaky ground. The plot of having patrons of a dinosaur theme park put in peril is a direct lift from the original film. It’s given a shinier look because this time the park is open and 20,000 guests get to see the dinosaur wonders on a daily basis.
Even a theme park full of dinosaurs has to keep evolving or guests will get bored. Unlike a regular theme park where a new ride is used to lure more ticket buyers, “Jurassic World” has bred a new hybrid dinosaur as its next great attraction.
This is where corporate greed and military involvement turn the theme park into a killing zone. The new dinosaur — one that’s smarter and has some killer extra traits — escapes. It becomes a mad dash to stop the creature before “Jurassic World” becomes a Jurassic buffet.
Much of the “Jurassic World” plot has been cloned from the DNA of the original film. Chris Pratt — the Harrison Ford of the 21st Century — plays the local dinosaur wrangler who sees the creatures not as park exhibits but as living beings to be respected.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays the as the expert who understands her job but has trouble dealing with people, similar to the character played by Sam Neillin the first movie. Howard’s character is running the park and she’s more about attendance numbers than personal connections, especially with her two visiting nephews (Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson).
The nephews serve the same purpose as the children in “Jurassic Park” — they are a great way for young moviegoers to connect to the film and give older audience members someone to care about.
Where “Jurassic World” takes a giant step forward is in the increase in the number of dinosaurs as the jungles and skies are filled with creatures great and small. The new hybrid dinosaur is terrifying. She not only has the brute force of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but the special skills bred into her make her a formidable foe.
Director Colin Trevorrow shows a steady hand at building up the tension and then releasing it with great force. The action was more suspenseful in “Jurassic Park.” But once Trevorrow commits to the fast tempo of man vs. beast, he never pulls back.
Pratt again shows he’s got the kind of natural charm that can allow him to go from action hero to comic relief without hurting either one. Howard’s performance is a little too comical at times, but overall she makes a solid central focus for the story.
The rest of the cast fill needs. Vincent D’Onofrio represents the single-minded approach of the military, while Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus are the quirky tech people.
Although the plot is very familiar and some of the characters two-dimensional, “Jurassic World” delivers on a promise made by the staff of the new theme park. They know an audience doesn’t want the same old thing and want something with more bite. “Jurassic World” delivers on that in a thunderous way.
- Rated PG-13 for language, violence
- Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard. Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong
- Directed by Colin Trevorrow
- Running time 123 minutes.