Photos: Universal Pictures
Twenty-two years after T-Rex and the velociraptors ran amok at "Jurassic Park,” Dr. John Hammond’s dream has become a reality. The completed park has opened its doors for the world to visit dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. After exploring everything “Jurassic World” has to offer, from gyrospheres to Brachiosaurus holograms, the action begins. And when it does, the pre-historic playground becomes the colossal adventure audiences have been waiting for, with jaw-dropping CGI effects and a dinosaur battle for the ages.
For the fourth installment, Steven Spielberg placed the power of direction in the hands of newcomer, Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed). Going from an independent film to a highly anticipated blockbuster, Trevorrow did not disappoint. Trevorrow was also backed up by a phenomenal behind-the-scenes team and a strong cast.
Audiences are swept away to an island off the coast of Costa Rica, where the fully operational luxury resort called “Jurassic World” is bustling with tens of thousands of guests. There is a conspicuous resemblance and nod to Universal Studios, from the large entrance gates, to the known brand restaurants and consumer stores. Kids ride gentle mini Triceratops in the petting zoo and crowds cheer as the aquatic Mosasaurus leaps from a performance pool to snatch a great white shark dangled as a snack. The park appears to be running just fine under the strict control of prim and proper Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). She finds herself juggling work and the unexpected visit from her nephews, Zach, 16 (Nick Robinson), and Gray, 11 (Ty Simpkins). With no time to play babysitter, Claire leaves them to her assistant.
Meanwhile, there’s a new dinosaur in town and it’s unlike any other. Constructed from various genos under the direction of a corporate board, Indominus Rex gives T-Rex a run for its money when it comes to strength, savagery and intelligence. To tame the unpredictable animal, Claire seeks out the help of Owen (Chris Pratt), an ex-military expert in animal behavior and Velociraptor trainer. But once Owen arrives at the beast’s quarters, Indominus Rex stages an escape, putting every dinosaur and human in danger at “Jurassic World.
If you’re wondering how good are the dinosaurs? In 3D, they couldn’t get any better. VFX supervisor Tim Alexander and dinosaur consultant, Phil Tippett realized details down to the very claw, cut and reptilian scale. The crew was led by director of photography John Schwartzman (The Amazing Spider-Man), production designer Edward Verreaux (X-Men: The Last Stand) and Editor Kevin Stitt (X-Men, Cloverfield). And when it comes to that memorable, uplifting score, Academy Award®-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Star Trek Into Darkness) perfectly fused a new musical composition with that of John Williams' original score.
Competing with the magnificence of the dinosaurs, America’s newest franchise superstar, Chris Pratt could not have been better suited to portray the film’s hero. Now tan and in the best shape of his life, Pratt always brings a genuine authenticity to his roles. Where other character backstories lack, Owen’s is the easiest to sympathize with. The trainer’s relationship with his velociraptors is that of a man with his canine best friend. Pratt did a great job creating a convincing emotional connection between his character and a CGI animal. For Bryce Dallas Howard, she brings a similar uptight persona from her previous performance in “The Help.” There is a natural chemistry between Howard and Pratt, especially when Claire eventually lets down her guard. Although their roles are brief, Irrfan Khan is great as the park’s billionaire benefactor, and Judy Greer as the distraught mother of Claire’s nephews.
Trevorrow’s goal was to make a movie that author and creator of the Jurassic series, Michael Chrichton would be proud of. With a franchise that has had its ups and downs, especially with the two sequels in between “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World,” the latest installment is well done. With a final scene that hints towards yet another sequel, we may be visiting the dinosaurs again soon.
By Pamela Price
Running Time: 124 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.