We remember the excitement of Jurassic Park in 1993, when dinosaurs came roaring to life on-screen. Ripples of water pulsated inside a plastic cup resting on a dashboard. With every step from an escaped T-Rex, Jurassic Park audiences squirmed in their theater seats watching and waiting until a portion of a goat lands on the sunroof of a parked vehicle. On camera, two children screamed as a trio of calmer, more rational adults—Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill–strategizing and plotted how to defeat the free-roaming dinosaurs in order to survive. And survive they did.
Jurassic Park became the world’s largest grossing movie of all-time (until 1997’s Titanic) and Spielberg set the monster bar to its highest mark yet. Spielberg’s level of believability, imagination and suspense has still not been surpassed by competitors Godzilla and The Planet of the Apes, or even this third sequel to his original dinosaur adventure—Jurassic World.
Director Colin Trevorrow magnificently brings velociraptor, I-Rex and pterodactyl animals to life, a la Spielberg, in Jurassic World. However, the storyline and character development are the first casualties of the Indominus Rex rampage. In fact, by the film’s midpoint I was openly rooting for the dinosaurs to achieve all-out victory on the remote Costa Rican island.
Jurassic World is a convoluted character mess. Interwoven between diluted dinosaur madness, director Trevorrow introduces us to parents, babysitters, novice helicopter flights, girlfriends and nameless park staff to the detriment of leading cast member Chris Pratt. His incompetent sidekick–Oscar-winning film director Ron Howard’s real-life daughter Bryce Dallas Howard—is easily the weakest link in the film and chain fence used to protect others. After all, she’s the one in-charge of keeping the tourists safe but has absolutely no idea or a plan on how to do so. Howard’s Aunt Claire character is only interested in the Park’s bottom line revenue, even if the biggest, nastiest monster remains on the loose. This plot fully dissolves into satire when the military is presented as an evil, warmongering entity that wants the dinosaurs weaponized and field tested, as mayhem and death unfold everywhere.
Back in 1993, director Steven Spielberg introduced movie goers to groundbreaking computer-generated imagery and life-sized dinosaur animatronics. But he also put together a talented Jurassic Park cast that told a compelling narrative that always felt as serious as the subject matter itself—the meat-eating predators. Jurassic World’s most glaring fault is its lack of believability; 3-inch high heels surviving a 12-hour life or death battle, a billionaire owner who doesn’t understand the peril he’s in with large carnivores running wild throughout his version of Disneyland, or Jurassic World being caught flat-footed on emergency actions and sufficient equipment. Thankfully, a “tyrant lizard” stomps up to find a dinosaur solution to the dinosaur problem.
Twenty-two years after audiences were left amazed and shocked seeing dinosaurs come to life on the big screen, a cheaper, duller, much less satisfying version of the original gets spawned. No amount of genetically altered DNA can infuse life into this poor showing. Horrible acting, careless character development and a bland script all contribute to this franchise’s most disappointing adventure to date. This film’s only redeeming quality–and true stars–are the impressive dinosaurs themselves. Guardians of the Galaxy’s Chris Pratt gave it his best shot–but that poor script, with a forced romantic angle, even lets him down. This monstrosity is the result when you have four people writing the screenplay and Spielberg as executive producer in name only.
“Jurassic World” is rated PG-13 for intense depictions of science fiction violence and peril. It’s running time is 2 hours and 3 minutes.
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