Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simkins, Nick Robinson
22 years after the groundbreaking original, “Jurassic World” aims to recapture the imagination we felt when Steven Spielberg put life-like dinosaurs on screen for the first time. Director Colin Trevorrow (“Safety Not Guaranteed”) worked very close with Spielberg to get this one right, as “The Lost World” (1997) and “Jurassic Park III” (2001) are regarded as failures. “Jurassic World” functions as a direct sequel to the original, although only one (arguably two) original character returns. Everyone remembers the scene in “Jurassic Park” where Dr. Grant and company watch velociraptor’s hatch, Jurassic World counts on your knowledge of the first film opening with a frightening updated hatch sequence. The special effects go far beyond what Spielberg and Stan Winston did back in the 90’s, the action packed script works as a thrill ride but the characters and the actors never reach the iconic levels of the original.
“Jurassic World” is not only open for business, but has been visited so much over the last decade that owners, sponsors and the creative team must continue to develop new attractions to keep revenue up. Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) is the 8th richest man in the world, owner of the theme park and intent on sustaining the legacy of John Hammond. InGEN geneticists, led by Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) have created a hybrid dinosaur that is bigger, scarier and more dangerous than anything in the park. Claire Dearing (Howard) the park’s operations manager is hosting her nephews Gray (Simpkins) and Zach (Robinson) for the weekend, when the new modified dino turns the world’s biggest attraction into a human buffet. Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Pratt) is forced into allowing the deadly pack hunters to lead them to the Indominus rex.
If Jurassic Park’s two preceding sequels were extensions of the first film, “Jurassic World” takes the concept of the original to the next level by getting the masses of people on the island with the dinosaurs. The script works at its best when showcasing how the park functions: Guided safari tours through the Gallimimus fields or Kayaking the riverbanks of the herbivore species. Knowledge of the first film will enrich the viewing experience not only when former locations are revisited but the mirroring of the original cast onto new members. D’Onofrio is scheming like Dennis Nedry and at one point Claire untucks her shirt and ties it at the bottom, clearly referencing Dr. Ellie Sattler. Amphibian DNA was a game changer in the original, and does so again here with the same DNA sequence referencing.
While there are more casualties this time around, the violence seems a little shady as a tree limb or vegetation seems always obscure a human fatality. As much as the film wants to be epic and groundbreaking like Spielberg’s original, it functions more like an action movie than anything else. Pratt is Hollywood’s newly crowned action hero and while his character is a combination of Grant/Malcom/Muldoon it never reaches an iconic level. Claire running through the park in heels is buffoonery at its finest, while Owen as a raptor trainer would make Dr. Grant scoff. Jurassic World has its thrilling moments, the gyrosphere being a highlight, but it’s thanks to the well plotted throwbacks that make it an adventure worth taking.
So many references and nods to the original make the 4th film feel more authentic.