“Jurassic World,” like its predecessors, fills up the screen with roaring, slathering, earth-shaking dinosaurs, then fills in mere humans around the edges. It’s a formula that works as well in 2015 as it did in 1993. Everyone enjoys a good time, even if those human edges are a bit frayed.
Jurassic World has opened its gates with familiar massive dinos and a few new bad boys. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) bears the burden of keeping revenue flowing, a job so consuming she barely notices the arrival of her adorable nephews Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson). Across the complex, a dino wrangler named Owen (Chris Pratt) bonds with some wily velociraptors and fends off the advances of warmonger Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio).
But enough with the people. Like the patrons at the theme park, movie audiences come for the dinosaurs, those scaly mavens of blood and bone. A saw-toothed leviathan lurks in a deep pool, snapping up great white sharks like goldfish. Above-ground, the lab has whipped up a new beauty from bits of DNA. She’s Indominus Rex, bigger, badder, and madder than any dinosaur that nature created. Plus, she is super-smart and not well-socialized.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well-Played Dinosaurs, Cardboard Bad Guy
The dino bits are good fun. It’s all there: Characters holding breath while a huge nostril tries to sniff them out, men running as fast as their little human legs can go, only to be chomped anyway, children huddled inside a shelter that is systematically destroyed. While the suspense may not feel as deliciously new as the first time, there are still enough jolts and jumps to keep the heart racing.
The human elements, with the exception of Pratt’s Owen, feel overly familiar. Claire is the female version of the workaholic dad, too focused on business to see what matters. The scientists have learned nothing from the events of the past. They’re still crazy and arrogant. Even the comic-relief guy feels rehashed, until one quite funny moment.
Worst, though, is the bad guy. Hoskins is a trope we see frequently in movies, in various forms. Former military, as is good-guy Owen, he sees the dinosaurs as potential military assets. He wants—nay, longs for—a vast battle. He’s greedy. He wants to make money off war and is willing to sacrifice lives to that cause, but he also just likes war for its own sake. We’ve seen this guy pop up in movies so frequently we’ve started to think people like this actually exist, warmongers out to create conflict for selfish reasons.
But Hoskins isn’t so bad that it ruins the movie. Part of the reason is Pratt, our newest-minted movie star. He’s got that Indiana Jones swagger as well as the sly wink. The hero all the way, he puts his life on the line for innocents, his men, and his dinos. Plus, he looks good doing it. This charmer can pull off a sincere hero that would feel corny in other hands.
Rated PG-13, the movie has no sexuality or nudity and mild but occasional language. It does have lots and lots of dinosaur violence. People get eaten. Although the gore is mostly off-camera, there are a few blood spats and shots of people getting gulped. Another scene shows a dying brontosaurus (the huge cow-like ones with the long necks), which may be upsetting for kids who hate seeing animals die. Some kids will be terrified. Some kids will eat this stuff up and look around for more. Besides the dino violence, there is very little content not appropriate for families.
While not quite a game-changer like the first flick, this Jurassic movie is worth seeing.