Spielberg Touch Makes Jurassic World a Worthy Successor
- Christian Hamaker Contributing Film and Culture Writer
- Updated Oct 23, 2015
DVD Release Date: October 20, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: June 12, 2015
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril)
Run Time: 124 min.
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Greer, Jake Johnson, BD Wong, Andy Buckley
"No one's impressed by a dinosaur anymore," explains Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help) early in Jurassic World, as she leads a tour of the island attraction that replaced Jurassic Park after things went awry with that park's dinosaurs.
Nothing like that scenario could ever happen again, of course. Especially now that scientists have created Indominus rex—a bigger-faster-stronger beast for an insatiable public that has grown bored by the tame dinosaurs that inhabit Jurassic World.
Jurassic World is a tourist mecca on an island where commercial interests have clearly taken hold (the new dinosaur is sponsored by Verizon Wireless—one of the movie's jabs at the corporate influence across all areas of entertainment). Visitors drive past plant-eating dinosaurs and attend a poolside show during which a huge underwater beast devours a dangled shark. But the dinosaurs at Jurassic World never pose any danger more than the splash created by the lunging leviathan.
Also oblivious to any dangers on the island are youngsters Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), who have been sent to the park by their on-the-brink-of-divorce parents (Judy Greer and Andy Buckley). The boys are supposed to spend quality time on the island with their Aunt Claire (Howard), who manages the park's operations, but she's too busy wooing potential corporate sponsors to make time for her nephews.
More aware of how tenuous the line is between the dinosaurs' gentle nature and their more aggressive instincts is Owen (Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy), who intervenes when one new park worker gets knocked into the raptor pen during feeding time. Owen calms the beasts as he steps between the raptors and their prey—something that catches the eye of Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio, The Judge), who envisions dinosaurs as the military's next great weapon. "Imagine if we had these puppies in Tora Bora!" he exclaims.
Even so, Owen's ability to get the dinosaurs to play nice has its limits. After he saves the worker, Owen barely avoids becoming lunch himself—a sign that things might not go so well if the dinosaurs escaped their confines. We know it's only a matter of time until they do. Why else would we be watching?
In crafting this roller-coaster ride of a movie, Director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) has stolen a few visual tricks from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, which is more likely to delight fans of the original film than it is to alienate them. Once the mayhem kicks in, the film is propulsive, carrying the audience from one set-piece sequence to another, and making the pleasing-if-predictable trajectory of Pratt and Howard's relationship a secondary consideration.
The film's scenes of rampaging dinosaurs are among its most memorable, and the filmmakers haven't held back. The scenes include blood and trauma—kids are terrorized (don't bring the little ones to this movie) and adults are devoured—but the grisliest deaths are mercifully quick. One character's demise at the hands of several pterodactyls feels relatively prolonged, but for good or ill, this scene is among the film's most memorable moments. It's all extremely intense in a way that will thrill some in the audience but likely be too much for younger audience members.
Many critics—this one included—complain about the glut of sequels and lack of new stories out of Hollywood. This year's Mad Max: Fury Road and Jurassic World show how well done sequels can be. Rather than giving us Hollywood at its worst, these films have energized a franchise-heavy summer. While one wouldn't wish for more remakes and reboots, these films are making the case that storylines that seem dated, played out and way past their prime can be refreshed in sensational ways. Jurassic World isn't a movie for young kids, but those who enjoy a few shocks and jolts—even a little terror—during their roller coaster rides will get exactly what they're hoping for, and maybe even more, with Jurassic World.
Consider the Jurassic franchise officially revived.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):
- Language/Profanity: The Lord’s name taken in vain; several uses of foul language
- Drinking/Smoking/Drugs: A dinosaur is said to be “very stoned”; Owen and Claire discuss whether drinking tequila is an essential part of a date
- Sex/Nudity: None; the film opens with Zach’s girlfriend holding him close and telling him to stay in touch while he’s away for the week; suggestive banter between Owen and Claire; a kiss; cleavage
- Violence/Crime: Zach remembers that people died at the original Jurassic Park, but says the place was “legit”; a man vomits; a newly created dinosaur is said to have been given a sister that the dinosaur then ate; dinosaurs attack men who fall into and enter their area of the park; gunfire and military tactics employed in fighting the dinosaurs; lots of dino rampages, including the deaths of several people and several dinosaurs; kids in jeopardy; thousands of park visitors terrorized by dinosaurs; a helicopter crash; grisly human deaths at the hands of dinosaurs
- Religion/Marriage/Morals: Zach and Gray’s parents are on the cusp of a divorce; their aunt Claire is too preoccupied with her job to give her nephews the quality time they need with her
Publication date: June 11, 2015