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Dinosaurs Roam Again At Jurassic World

Updated on July 4, 2015

A theme park with live dinosaurs comes with challenges. One of them is keeping the park dynamic. Another is keeping the once-extinct creatures under control. A third comes when people insist that two species from two different time periods can somehow co-exist in Jurassic World. The fourth installment in the series that began with Jurassic Park in 1993 shows the old park under new management. Brothers Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach Mitchell (Nick Robinson) are sent on a trip to the park by their parents. Their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) runs the daily operations of the park for owner Simon Masrani (Irfan Khan). Claire promises their mother to look over them on their visit, but she hands off most of that responsibility to her assistant.

Preparations for a big new attraction keep Claire busier than she would like. The park is set to introduce its biggest lab-made dinosaur yet, a creature called Indomitus Rex. Masrani has come to the park to get a sneak peek of it. Chief dinosaur trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) has his worries about Indomitus, since the beast has been kept in isolation. These worries become a reality when the dinosaur fakes an escape, kills two park employees who investigate, and almost gets Owen. Security director Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), who thinks dinosaurs could be used for purposes other than entertainment, watches as his Asset Contaiment team, deployed by Masrani, gets decimated by Indomitus. Claire orders the park closed, and the guests confined to the buildings outside the park. Zach and Gray, though, disregard the orders and encounter the new attraction. Grady has a plan to stop the big dinosaur as it wreaks havoc on the park, while Claire works with the park's control room on another plan.

Jurassic World is a better entry than the previous two entries, but still doesn't match the action and suspense of the first film. Director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow has some Spielberg-like moments of suspense, such as the moments before audiences get their first glimpse of Indomitus Rex. Also a part borrowed from Spielberg are the characters that range from the hero to the hot shot to the well-meaning folks whose good intentions go bad. That doesn't mean, though, he's close to being Spielberg's heir apparent. Only a couple of them are as interesting as noteworthy Spielberg characters such as Sheriff Brody, Indiana Jones, and Elliott, the boy who protected E. T.. In some cases, Trevorrow simply reaches into the big bag of screen stereotypes, such as Claire running in high heels. Jurassic World isn't great, but it is good enough for good summer viewing at the movies.

The performance that made Jurassic World work best came from Pratt. Owen Grady has adapted to a world with a modern version of the dinosaur. He knows how to track them, and even has bonded with four dinosaurs who consider Owen their alpha dinosaur. He treats them as a sort of pet, and show they are willing to fight Indomitus with Owen. He even gets help in dinosaur care from his associate, Barry (Omar Sy). As a former Navy man, Owen uses his military background as another way to not only fight Indomitus, but also Hoskins, who'd like to use the dinosaurs for other purposes. D'Onofrio is the best of the supporting cast as Hoskins, the man who thinks himself the alpha male of Jurassic World, even as he loses his AC members to Indomitus. BD Wong has some good moments as Dr. Wu, the geneticist who serves as this installment's character connection to Jurassic Park. He just builds the beasts bigger and better as a part of park business. I also enjoyed Khan's brief moments as Simon, a man who wishes to continue the legacy of John Hammond, but gets a little big-headed in other aspects of his business. Howard, Simpkins, and Robinson are merely adequate. Their characters created little empathy for me, since they did things that didn't help their cause on the island. I wish that the boys, at least, had been written with a sort of eccentricity that would have helped them bond with Owen or their aunt better.

The box office on Jurassic World would indicate the franchise is in line for a fifth chapter. I'd like to see Owen Grady again, living life among the dinosaurs and understanding that they can only be controlled so much. The other characters, though, don't hold anywhere near that level of interest for me. Without the modern technology that has been utilized, they would live only in history. Owen lives with the reality, and helps others live with that knowledge. Jurassic World, thanks to a very interesting and unusual lead character, is the best Jurassic sequel to date. Owen Grady is not only a man of action, but he's a man with a plan for dealing with a man-made problem. He gets the fascination with these creatures, but he also sees that fascination can be fatal without constant and diligent care.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Jurassic World three stars. Another park, another crisis.


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