It’s almost impossible to think about dinosaur movies without thinking about the ground-breaking 1993 film ‘Jurassic Park,’ a sly, exciting summer blockbuster about a mad scientist who extracts DNA from preserved dinosaur blood then creates a theme park around the resurrected beasts. What could possibly go wrong? Based on one of the many “dangers of science” books written by the prolific Michael Crichton, it remains one of director Steven Spielberg’s best movies.
Two decades after the Park’s disastrous shutdown, a new dinosaur-themed amusement park, Jurassic World, has been opened up on Isla Nublar, funded by dilettante billionaire Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan). This time, however, the dinosaurs have been genetically manipulated to be bigger, faster, more exciting. New creatures bring in the tourists, we learn from park director Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), and it’s all about the bottom line.
The latest dinosaur that’s to be unveiled is the terrifying Indominus Rex, created by genetic engineer Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong, who was also in the original ‘Jurassic Park’ movie) to be larger and more ferocious than even Tyrannosaurus Rex. Except he’s done his job too well and it’s so ferocious that it killed and ate its sibling and seems to have figured out how to escape its huge enclosure with its 40-foot concrete walls.
Meanwhile, in addition to the boys exploring the park alone (Aunt Claire is too busy to escort them), we learn that there’s an evil undercurrent too: gruff military man Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) has been skulking behind the scenes, trying to convince animal behavior expert Owen (Chris Pratt) that tame velociraptors would make excellent soldiers, able to rip the enemy apart on a battlefield. For his part, the laid-back Owen lives in a trailer on the edge of a lake and has his own ideas about how man should view and treat the dinosaurs, whether they’re creations of our own genetic science or not.
The storyline is predictable and when Claire calls on Owen to help control the chaos of the escaped Indominus Rex it’s no surprise whatsoever. In fact, the themes of the original film reoccur again and again in ‘Jurassic World,’ even down to two children in peril deep in the park when everything goes sideways, in this case they’re Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), nephews of the overworked Claire. That’s a classic Spielberg storytelling technique, telling the story through the eyes of children.
There’s nothing deep, thoughtful or ground-breaking about ‘Jurassic World,’ and in that sense it really is a reboot of the original ‘Jurassic Park,’ with its dry humor and thrills. There’s also lots of homage to the original movie, and in one scene an employee at Jurassic World is berated for wearing a Jurassic Park t-shirt. “Very inappropriate.” “Sorry, I bought it off eBay.”
Steven Spielberg and director Colin Trevorrow have crafted the first really fun tentpole movie of the summer and while the story might be banal and quite predictable, the characters all just a bit cliché, the film itself is a delightful adventure with action, humor, eye-popping special effects and some big, scary dinosaurs. As with the original, this isn’t a deep, profound examination of the perils of science, it’s an effects laden summer film that has blockbuster written all over it.
I really enjoyed it, laughed at some parts, and held my breath in others. It’s that fun. Just go see it, you won’t regret the ticket price!