It’s clear the producers of Jurassic World decided to follow the tenet of one of the series’ more memorable characters. Dr. John Hammond kept telling everyone who would listen that he “spared no expense” in bringing dinosaurs to life on Isla Nublar. The fourth film in the series, a clear, strong effort to reboot the twenty-year-old franchise, gives us dinos bigger and badder than anything we’ve seen before. And along with them comes more suspense, more action, and, inevitably, more death.
Jurassic World is a true summer popcorn flick, and when the dust finally settles, it emerges as the second best Jurassic film yet. (Nothing can top the original’s seeing-it-for-the-first-time wonder.)
How we made the leap, though, from three movies chock-full of reasons to never return to Isla Nublar, to a present day amusement park where people can walk among the dinosaurs, is a plot point never fully explained. Jurassic World (the park) welcomes 20,000 guests a day. Along with a monorail ride through the fields where brontosaurus graze and a Sea World-like stadium where a mammoth sea creature devours sharks like they’re Cracker Jacks, visitors can actually walk among the kinder, gentler creatures in a petting zoo. Seriously, has no one heard about what’s happened on this island?
To make matters worse (or to combat the ennui of the masses, as we’re told), scientists have gone and created a ferocious new hybrid dinosaur, Indominus Rex. Let the games begin.
Bryce Dallas Howard stars as Claire, a park executive who, naturally, is welcoming her two nephews to the park just as the big, bad dinosaur is getting ready to make her debut. Of course the dinosaur gets out, of course no one has any clue how to stop it, of course the kids find themselves directly in the dino’s path, and of course there’s a money-grubbing nutjob who sees it as a perfect way to turn the situation to his (financial) advantage. Sure, we’ve seen all this before, but, frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Helping Claire save the day is dinosaur whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a rough-and-tumble Indiana Jones-type who serves as a perfect contrast to Claire’s tightly-wound, by-the-book persona.
Even though each of the film’s character is new to Jurassic World (save B.D. Wong’s scientist Henry Wu from the original film), there’s still plenty that hearkens back to the earlier movies, including a fun moment when the nephews find themselves in the old Jurassic Park– abandoned gift shop and all.
The real stars of the show, however, are (of course) the dinosaurs themselves, and there’s more than enough to go around in Jurassic World. We’re told there are 20 different species on the island, and damned if we don’t see every single one of them (often a dozen at a time) throughout the mayhem.
First-time big budget feature Director Colin Trevorrow (who also co-wrote the script) has crafted a white-knuckle ride that feels fresh while still drawing heavily on its predecessors. Sure there are some corny moments (including arguably the series’ best-ever character death scene), some poor writing (the boys discuss their parents impending divorce briefly, and then the topic is never mentioned again), and some eye-rolling bits, too (the park’s developers have no problem shelling out $12 million developing a single dinosaur but can’t figure out how to get decent cell service on the island?), but we’re not here for logic and common sense.
We’re here for the pure adventure, and we get it on the grandest scale possible. Jurassic World is one hell of a ride.