Yabadabadoo! If you thought this franchise had gone extinct, run far, run fast to a theater near you. Almost 22 years to the day “Jurassic Park” was released, “Jurassic World” roars to the megaplex to astound and thrill its fanatical audience. The cast and crew fill the genetic gaps of the original with their own DNA for a newly invigorated ride.
Budding superstar Chris Pratt (wearing same headgear as in “Guardians of the Galaxy”), as Owen, the animal trainer, lights up the screen with a blend of “aw shucks” charisma, street “cred” and a “git-r-done” attitude. Bryce Dallas Howard, as Claire, the park director, shares top billing and more important, the requisite chemistry with her hunky co-star. Together, they take us on a journey through our favorite theme park.
How phenomenal was that original park with prehistoric animals roaming freely across the lush landscape of Isla Nublar, near Costa Rica (shot mostly in Hawaii). Before all hell broke loose, we were provided a glimpse of this magnificent phenomenon. Now, we get to join the thousands of visitors as they experience a fully functioning park, with its “Main Street USA,” “Sea World” exhibit and petting zoo, all backed by glorious theme music.
After 10 years in business, the park introduces new dinosaurs to boost attendance. Claire states, “Corporate felt genetic modification would up the ‘wow’ factor.” Owen responds, “They’re dinosaurs, wow enough!” Their first genetically modified hybrid is bigger, smarter and more aggressive than a T-Rex. What could possibly go wrong?
Park owner, Masrani (Irrfan Khan) explains, “The key to a happy life is to accept you are never in control.” He later states, “I can see an animal’s happiness in its eyes,” as Khan’s character also had said about a tiger in “Life of Pi.” In this case, we can assume the animal is not so happy. So, Owen and team must come to the rescue.
What a crisis doesn’t need is a loud-mouthed goateed slob professing to have all the answers. Veteran actor Vincent D’Onfrio fills that roll. Worse yet, Clare’s nephews are still out on the open range. When they stumble onto a broken down Jeep Wrangler, it is the same No. 29 vehicle used by park owner John Hammond in the original.
You might notice a statue of Hammond (late Richard Attenborough in the original), Jurassic Park’s founder in the “Main Street” area of the park. This is the first in the series to not feature the main cast members (other than B.D. Wong) from the original. Director Colin Trevorrow thought it not respectful to force yet another story around those actors. Laura Dern stated, “I’m thrilled not to be chased by dinosaurs in this movie; I am tired.”
Author Michael Crichton wrote the original novel and screenplay after his success with “Westworld,” where a futuristic theme park malfunctions big-time. Instead of bad cowboys, we now have monstrous dinosaurs. Or, as Dr. Wu (Wong) explains, “To a canary, a cat is a monster. We’re just used to being the cat.”
“Jurassic Park” (1993) is one of Chris Pratt’s favorite films, seeing it on its original opening day. Trevorrow pays homage to Steven Spielberg with references to the original, but adding his own style of dazzling sets and shots as well as enough mayhem, death and destruction for today’s generation. With not one dull moment building to the climax, we could almost hear Trevorrow advising his crew, “Must go faster!”
“Jurassic World” is 124 minutes and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence. Owen tells Clare, “Don’t worry, it’s gonna be just like taking a walk in the woods – 65 million years ago.” Not necessarily for the serious film buff, it is thrilling entertainment with state-of-the-art effects, intense action and worthy of your twelve bucks.
This is what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be. Claire explains, “Jurassic World” is “more, bigger, faster;” far better than the prior two sequels and arguably as good or better than the original. Universal has discovered dinosaurs to be a renewable resource. So, expect sequels to this sequel. Hey, they did it for “Sharknado.” But, this is Dino-mite!
Ron’s Rating: A Leigh’s Rating: A