In “Jurassic World”, a character mentions that kids these days see a dinosaur much like they see an elephant. It bores them and they need to see something bigger, faster, scarier, and with more teeth.
Luckily, director Colin Trevorrow and the four credited screenwriters (usually spelling disaster) take heed with their own dialogue. Once the dinosaurs show up and inevitable havoc strikes, this movie is a pressure cooker loaded with intense, nerve wracking scenes.
The moments when dinosaurs aren’t savagely mutilating humans leave a bit to be desired. All the characters are one note and it takes far too long to get going, but “Jurassic World” usually sticks with what works: dinosaurs doing dinosaur stuff.
The stereotypes start with Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson), two brothers that are sent off to Jurassic World to visit their aunt, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). Claire is a busy businesswoman doing business and doesn’t have time for family so she assigns her assistant to babysit them, much to the chagrin of her sister, Karen (Judy Greer).
After dealing with potential corporate sponsors (which there are aplenty) and her aloof, uber-rich boss, Masrani (Irrfan Khan), Claire enlists raptor whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt) to inspect an exhibit that houses the world’s first hybrid dinosaur. There’s a hint of a romantic past between Owen and Claire, which is then quickly shuffled aside so “Jurassic World” can get to the dinosaur onslaught.
There are a handful of subplots that keep the first hour of “Jurassic World” in first gear. The mad DNA scientist, Dr. Wu (BD Wong), throws out some fleeting debate regarding nature and science. There’s the militant Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), a guy that wants to weaponize velociraptors, which is just as insane an idea as it sounds. There’s even the nerdy control room guy, Lowery (Jake Johnson), simply quipping away as the movie’s only comedic relief.
These shallowly written characters don’t make “Jurassic World” a bad movie, but they seem like nothing more than filler with each role created to fill action movie stereotype slots.
Once all hell breaks loose, Gray and Zach do the stupid kid thing and put themselves squarely in harm’s way. As dinosaurs rage all over the island, Claire runs off to Owen, who then helps her track down her idiotic nephews.
The second hour of “Jurassic World” is a nonstop attack on the senses, with all variations of dinosaurs getting in on the killing. The effects are fantastic, stressing that this movie simply was impossible to create when the original came out in 1993.
There aren’t many moments that go for the “boo” scare tactic. Instead of jump scares, “Jurassic World” ramps up the shock and creepiness factor. There are a few moments that are unbearably intense, with a water death a la “Jaws” being the strongest of them.
It is downright bizarre how this movie was given a PG-13 rating. Seemingly hundreds of people are violently killed, some in bloody fashion, but because there (gasp) aren’t any f-words, no big deal.
This isn’t the type of movie that requires much from its actors, other than looking good and sounding somewhat convincing. Thankfully, Chris Pratt isn’t playing Star Lord while wearing a safari vest here and, for the most part, stays away from the wise cracks. He’s going full action hunk here and he easily fills that role.
The only character that has any arc is Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire, who goes from ice queen to family heroine in the span of a few hours. It wouldn’t make sense for her to suddenly go from big time CEO to jungle dinosaur warrior, but she has several heroic moments that stay within the realms of reality regarding her character.
Howard does get to be the centerpiece of this movie’s one truly iconic moment that will have the entire audience forgetting every boring character and lame subplot they just viewed.
The problem that “Jurassic World” has is that from the second it starts, with its sprawling views of a gorgeous zoo/theme park, everyone watching it is waiting for the other T. Rex foot to drop. The score flies in, sounding gorgeous and full of promise, when we all know that we are about to see many, many, many people become dinosaur feed.
Of course, you aren’t going to see “Jurassic World” due to its layers upon layers of dramatic effect. You want to see dinosaurs run roughshod and overall mesozoic chaos. Once it gets past the boring setup, that is exactly what you get.