It’s impossible to talk about dinosaur movies without mentioning the ground-breaking 1993 film Jurassic Park, a fun, exciting summer blockbuster about a mad scientist who extracts dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes trapped in amber and then creates a theme park around the resurrected beasts. Based on one of the many books written by the remarkably 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 called Jurassic World has opened up on Isla Nublar, funded by eclectic billionaire Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan). This time, however, the dinosaurs have been genetically tweaked to be bigger, faster, and even 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, not the dinosaurs.
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. Except he’s done his job too well and it’s so ferocious that it killed and ate its sibling and has figured out how to escape its enclosure with its 40-foot concrete walls.
Meanwhile, Claire’s nephews Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) are exploring the park solo because she’s too busy to escort them. But there’s an evil undercurrent in the park too: military contractor Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) has been skulking behind the scenes, trying to convince animal behavior expert Owen (Chris Pratt) that his tame velociraptors would make excellent soldiers. 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 generic science or not. He’s trained four velociraptors to respond to his commands by becoming the “alpha” raptor.
The storyline is predictable and when Claire asks Owen to help find and control 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 that need to be rescued by the heroes of the film.
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 are also plenty of homages to the original film, and in one amusing 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 little cliché, the film 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 Jurassic World, laughed at some parts, marveled at the vision of the filmmakers in others and held my breath more than once at the perilous escapes. It’s fun. Just go see it, you won’t regret the ticket price.