The park has reopened and the dinosaurs are yet loose again in Jurassic World, which is technically the fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise but serves as more of a reboot than a direct sequel to 2001’s Jurassic Park III. The implicit question that lingers is “can dinosaur movies still be good fun?” and fortunately the answer is yes, they absolutely can. It’s safe to say that movies like this have a way of making one feel like a kid again and despite quibbles with plotting and character development, I had a blast with this movie.
We pick up years after the disastrous opening of Jurassic Park where a company called InGen has created a safe and profitable dinosaur theme park called Jurassic World. Despite their success, the park’s operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) feels the pressure to up the ante and oversees a project to create a new genetically modified hybrid called Indominus rex. As is typical for this series, the dinosaur escapes and Claire enlists the help of dinosaur trainer Owen Grady (a smartly cast Chris Pratt) and his loyal quartet of velociraptors to track down the predator before it kills everything on Isla Nublar.
Director Colin Treverrow, who also directed the independent gem Safety Not Guarenteed, is working here with a budget roughly 200 times larger than that of his previous film and he handles the transition admirably. The action scenes have a great sense of pacing to them and are shot with focus and clarity (I should note that I attended a 2D screening), while the character moments range from funny to touching. It’s only when he gets bogged down in juggling unnecessary subplots that he comes across as potentially overmatched, although this is more a fault of the screenwriting than anything.
This kind of issue is one typical of blockbusters that are written by committee and Jurassic World is no exception. With four credited screenwriters and a likely host of other uncredited writers, it’s not surprising that certain scenes and bits of dialogue feel disjointed from the main emphasis of the film. This would also explain a few of the meandering subplots that arise, the most ponderous and preposterous involving a plan by InGen’s head of security to enlist dinosaurs in the US military. Instead of being relegated to a few lines of dialogue, it’s raised into an arbitrary point of conflict that inexplicably shares screen time with dinosaurs brawling with one other.
While the dinosaur setpieces obviously steal the show, the humans do contribute their fair share as well. Coming off of his Guardians of the Galaxy success from last summer, Chris Pratt proves once again that he has everything it takes and more to be a premier action star. I haven’t been the biggest Bryce Dallas Howard fan in the past but here, she has a chance to play a character that starts off in clichéd territory but grows into something more emphatic as the film progresses. Most importantly, this movie doesn’t forget how to have a good time down the stretch and delivers a final battle sequence that will likely have you roaring out of the theater (even if you’re the only one, it’s okay).