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Dan's Review: "Jurassic World" feeds us more

Jun 12, 2015 10:52AM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World - © 2014 - Universal Pictures

Jurassic World (Universal)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.

Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D'Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, B. D. Wong, Jake Johnson, Lauren Lapkus, Brian Tee, Katie McGrath, Judy Greer, Andy Buckley, James DuMont, Jimmy Buffett, Jimmy Fallon.

Written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, based on characters created by Michael Crichton.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow.

GRADE: B-

REVIEW:

The Dave Matthews Band has a song called “Too Much,” an essay on the market-driven gluttony of a society that is never satisfied, always seeking “more.” That’s the basic theme of Jurassic World, the fourth installment borne from Steven Spielberg’s iconic 1993 megahit Jurassic Park. As if seeing authentic-looking dinosaurs on screen for the first time (not Claymation or a guy in a suit trampling through miniature film sets) wasn’t cool enough, Universal Studios always seems ready to green-light another “Jurassic” sequel to keep up with the demands of the masses.

Since all the deadly disasters of previous ventures of messing with dinosaur DNA really didn’t teach anybody anything about ethics or prudence, our story picks up years later on Isla Nubla (a fictional island off the coast of Costa Rica), the original location of the doomed Jurassic Park. The island now hosts an even bigger theme park called Jurassic World, where thousands flock to see real dinosaurs in action. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the park’s operations manager who reluctantly allows her young nephews Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) to visit the park while her sister (Judy Greer) works out some marital difficulties. At the same time, Claire is under intense corporate pressure from her boss Simon (Irrfan Khan) to create new “cooler” hybrid creatures by manipulating “dino-DNA” with current fish, amphibians and reptiles. On another part of the island, there’s a Velociraptor research facility headed by Owen (Chris Pratt), who is under pressure from a corporate security sleaze named Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) to turn the raptors into trained military weapons. Owen has some success in training the raptors to follow commands.

But, as always, something goes wrong and the newest, biggest, baddest dino-hybrid called Indominus Rex get loose and starts killing every living thing it can get its teeth into, including the gentler herbivore dinosaurs on the island. Zach and Gray get stuck in the jungle, prompting Claire to enlist Owen to save them. As the Indominus gets closer to the central theme park, more people die, leading to a showdown at the park’s center.

The irony of Jurassic World can be found in its core theme of how corporate consumerism leads to disaster. On the one hand, giving everybody, including stockholders and customers “more, more, more” seems like a bad idea. On the other hand, that’s exactly why we keep getting sub-par movie sequels. It might have been just fine if we’d never seen a single Jurassic sequel, but just like the characters in the movies, we (and the movie studios) never learn. We’re often disillusioned and disappointed that the best new thing doesn’t quite recreate the feeling we had when we first saw a T-Rex stomp onto the set of Spielberg’s original classic. It may be “Too Much,” but that won’t stop Universal from making another sequel, either. Incidentally, there is a very wide door left open for continuation of the story in the movie, further demonstrating my point.

All ironies aside, Jurassic World is kind of fun and has plenty of peril, action and cool special effects to make it worthy of a little summer escapism. The story and characters aren’t exactly anything new, representing the commonplace movie role players like the rogue hero, a tough female counterpart, the greedy guys, the villainous “meanies,” the unethical scientist and smart kids who are somehow able to defy the odds of survival. Yes, you know what’s coming, but you still jump out of your seat every once in a while.

Although the gap between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World might be worlds apart, kids who’ve never seen the original might get a thrill out the dinosaurs. For the rest of us, it might be a little too much.

One warning: Jurassic World barely earns a PG-13 rating for avoiding graphic gore, but that doesn't mean little kids should see it. Lots of people die horribly, so you might want to get a sitter.  


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