The Bock’s Office: ‘Jurassic World’ a dynamic yet dimwitted dino movie
June 18, 2015
The message of "Jurassic World," and all the movies that preceded it, is to show what happens when mankind plays God. Perhaps the greater sin that comes in the newest installment, though, is the mistake of trying to play Spielberg.
If you go…
"Jurassic World," rated PG-13
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars
Running time: 124 minutes
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio and Ty Simpkins
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The glory of the prehistoric Earth is now available for public consumption at the theme park Jurassic World, where the dream of the late John Hammond has come alive with dinosaurs brought to life through advanced science.
The thriving tourist attraction near Costa Rica sees thousands of visitors daily, but this isn't nearly enough in the view of the executives in charge of operations. The park's latest resident is an entirely species: the Indominus Rex, a genetic combination of multiple dinosaurs that promises to be the greatest draw yet if manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has anything to say about it.
However, what she hasn't anticipated is the intelligence of this beast, and the cautionary warnings of her top dinosaur trainer (Chris Pratt) and the owner of the park (Irrfan Khan) mean little when the Indominus escapes captivity and goes on a rampage.
Besides Claire's nephews (Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson), who happen to be visiting, a multitude of people are endangered by this enormous and cunning threat.
First, he got to be a space outlaw, now he's a velociraptor whisperer? Pratt keeps getting the coolest roles all to himself and doing pretty well in them, making a decent action hero as Owen Grady, the guy who's become the alpha raptor through exhaustive efforts, knowing he and everyone at his workplace have, at best, the illusion of control over predatory animals that predate their existence.
Sporting what looks like the Fay Wray line of business attire, Howard copes with a pretty weak female character in Claire, whom we're meant to imitially see as equally cold-blooded to the creatures in her park, later to realize, "Hey, maybe this lady has a heart and can hold her own!"
If that were true, she wouldn't wear high heels the whole time.
The kids are fine, Simpkins as hyper dinosaur lover Gray and Robinson as teenage Zach, whose interests lie strictly in girls and extends to almost every one he sees. Smart as they both may be, however, neither seems to be clever enough to realize that when you take a gyrosphere — one of Jurassic World's more impressive-looking rides — off-road, the risk of becoming the pinball among a family of ankylosaurs is all the greater.
To be fair, they couldn't have predicted the massive killer reptile that would descend upon them, even though it feels like everybody should be expecting that.
As amazing as it sounds, something that's effectively a dinosaur zoo with flimsy protective measures is no smarter of an idea than it was in 1993, though the hubris has increased in those 22 years.
Besides Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) — the only returning cast member from any of the first three films — explaining that, when you throw together a DNA cocktail like Indominus, you can't possibly be surprised when the results are disastrous, features of the park — such as one that let you ride a baby triceratops like a pony — show how folks just don't care that they're courting an impending catastrophe.
Let's not even get into the lunacy of the head of security's (Vincent D'Onofrio) plans to weaponize a group of raptors for military combat.
Director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow's desire to be the next Steven Spielberg is apparent in his signature shot: a close-up of a footprint thudding into the ground. Well, if he wants to make his mark, his next film may have to be the one to do it, because he’s only following in the footsteps of someone better.
Trevorrow allows his cast to state the obvious with plenty of plot holes that you don't need talons to tear through, relying on poor character growth and plenty of mayhem by our main terrorizer, helped along by all the scaly, winged or underwater residents we've seen before.
As horrifying as the Indominus is, learning and adapting at a lightning pace, it doesn't stand out much from other villains that were born and cultivated in a lab. Maybe it and all these other low points are supposed to be satirical, but that's giving too much credit and feels like the easy way out for a series we expect to be on the smarter side.
Either way, we get it: Screwing around with genes that should have remained extinct never ends well.
It's not the monumental technical achievement from a couple decades ago, yet "Jurassic World" is no worse than the sequels that came before it — a popcorn movie that demands only your undivided attention as everything goes haywire.
And, be sure to avoid bringing your cell phones into the theater because those with their eyes glued to a small screen are the first to go.