Jurassic World roared into theaters 14 years after its last installment with stunning visual effects and an exhilarating non-stop pace.
It is evident director Colin Trevorrow and the screenwriters understood it would be impossible for the film to live up to Steven Spielberg’s original. Instead, they opted for a nostalgic tribute to the first film while also attempting to include new storylines.
The result is a fully functioning dinosaur amusement park dreamed up by John Hammond, the CEO and creator of Jurassic Park, and run by Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), a no-nonsense park executive.
Young children can be seen riding atop tame Triceratops as their parents sip margaritas, and tourists can roam a Stegosaurus paddock in a rotating gyro vehicle.
We are told that despite all of this, the public has become bored with the idea of dinosaurs. This becomes evident when a great white shark is swallowed whole by a Mosasaurus while the crowd sits barely blinking an eye only 100 feet away.
Dearing instructs park operators to go back to the lab and create a scarier attraction that would re-ignite the crowd and combat declining visitor rates.
The scientists band together DNA from dozens of animals to create Indominus rex, a genetically modified Tyrannosaurus rex. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), an animal behaviorist and former Navy man, is called in to ensure the creature is safe for the public.
Grady immediately thinks the beast is a bad idea and works to convince Dearing of the danger.
Meanwhile, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins), arrive at the park to spend some quality time with Dearing, an aunt who they have not seen in seven years. Dearing, a textbook workaholic, ends up sending one of her assistants to watch over them at the park.
Jurassic World weaves three different storylines together almost effortlessly: career-driven Dearing, her park and her scientists; Grady, the raptor trainer; and the two boys who ditch their babysitter and begin wandering around the park unaware of the turmoil about to erupt.
Inevitably, breeding a creature that isn’t fully understood backfires tremendously. The quick-witted Indominus rex finds a way out of its “impenetrable” habitat and heads toward the 20,000 visitors on the island.
Chaos quickly ensues. Each action sequence is written in a way that builds slowly, with increasing tension, violence and ultimately an explosive confrontation.
None of the characters are layers deep, but they certainly prove to be enough within the framework provided and are just as dimensional as in the first film.
Each creature is so realistic that you may find yourself feeling more for the animals than the people when they are put in harm’s way. It is less a criticism for the acting than a testament to how incredible the construction of the dinosaurs is.
The theater fell completely silent when a baby Triceratops in the petting zoo was trapped in the pandemonium, and there was one tragic scene with a dying Brontosaurus that brought tears to people’s eyes.
Why exactly the park officials would want to construct a nearly unstoppable 50-foot predator and place him next to 20,000 people with no apparent evacuation strategy remains a mystery.
Nevertheless, Jurassic World proves to be an exciting summer blockbuster that is predictable in just the right way. It often pays respects to the original, but it keeps from being an outright copy by incorporating more than enough new situations to launch a fresh set of sequels.