Jurassic World

Jurassic World

2015, PG-13, 124 min. Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Jake Johnson.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 12, 2015

Well, it’s better than Jurassic Park III, I’ll give them that. This fourth film in the franchise has more than a few snazzy beasties going for it, and the CGI is light years away from the crumpy-cute brontosauruses of Spielberg’s monstrously entertaining 1993 original. The skin tones and rolling musculature of the 20-odd species of DNA-recombinant dinosaurs seen here glisten and flex with all the natural physiology of how paleontologists currently believe the real things would appear. The same, however, cannot be said for the storyline (which, as in 1993, should stop no one from going to the theatre). Penned by a bevy of screenwriters and shunted all over the place in the intervening years since we last watched Jurassic Park III’s pterodactyls take wing, Jurassic World relies far too heavily on the tried and true and decidedly cliched – from its young protagonists Gray and Zach (Simpkins and Robinson), who are vacationing in the allegedly “safe” (yeah, right) corporate theme park of the title only to find themselves pursued by, well, you know, to a scheming military evildoer who plans to use velociraptors in lieu of American boots on the ground in upcoming conflicts. “Robots?!” scoffs D’Onofrio’s ham-on-wry baddie: “This is the future of war!”

He does have a point, since ex-Marine Owen (former guardian of the galaxy Chris Pratt) appears to have trained these bitey, scrambling eating machines to follow orders to a small extent using, of all things, a dog clicker and a pail of dead rats. Noms! Pratt pulls double duty here (and does it charmingly) as one of the film’s requisite love interests. The other half is Howard’s Park Manager Claire, a Type-A control freak who manages to misplace her own nephews, Gray and Zach, once the park’s newest attraction busts loose and turns out to have far more intelligence than your average Jurassic hybrid. Dubbed the “Indominus rex,” this 50-foot mass of razored teeth and predatory rending lays predictable waste to everything and everyone around it, leading to a final, finally rousing third act that actually merits the word “spectacular.” Not so for the rest of the film, sadly.

Director Trevorrow previously helmed the quirky-cool, indie time-travel film Safety Not Guaranteed, and his roots show through as corporate America, product placement and branding, and the amoral corruption of scientific breakthroughs by mankind’s more martial and profit-driven impulses are skewered, snarked, and railed against at every turn. Spielberg, reportedly a very hands-on exec producer, allows for a few moments of flashback tomfoolery to his earlier films, notably a pair of gags involving a great white shark and, later on, a couple of oxygen tanks used to foul up the advance of an impending Jurassic attack. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, though; he knows this, one must assume. Indominus rex may be fearsome, but the behemoth is ultimately brought down, like Kong, by love. That’d be Spielberg’s – and every kid in the world, to be honest – love for another, more archetypal monster, who shall remain unnamed here. It’s all in good fun, and critic-proof to boot, but Jurassic World doesn’t even come close to that most intimate and dearly coveted “Gosh, wow” sense-of-wonder that the original film mustered so easily. Roar more, bite less.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Colin Trevorrow Films
The Book of Henry
Abandon all hope ye who purchase a ticket

Josh Kupecki, June 16, 2017

Safety Not Guaranteed
Love and time travel commingle in this debut feature which stars Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass.

Marc Savlov, June 15, 2012

More by Marc Savlov
The Dead Don't Die
After the vampiric bite of Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch shambles through this zombie flick

June 14, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Who will win this epic new battle royal as Godzilla faces King Ghidorah?

May 31, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Jurassic World, Colin Trevorrow, Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Jake Johnson

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle