By Susan JAMES
They’re back, they’re bad and they’re bigger than ever. ‘Jurassic World’, Universal Studio’s new excursion into the wonderful world of dinosaurs, is fast and furious, with a body count courtesy of rampaging lizards the size of skyscrapers. Director Colin Trevorrow offers a screen full of CGI thrills and spills that are exciting to watch but contain little in the way of clever plotting or captivating characters.
Several decades after the original dinosaur rampage in ‘Jurassic Park’, the new playground of Jurassic World has been rehabilitated and is back in business. Now a popular theme park still located on that same sinister island off the coast of Costa Rica, owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), CEO of the Masrani Corporation, has combined Disneyland, Sea World and Safari Wild Animal Park into a major international attraction. But not everything is green in the Jurassic garden. The park’s financial bottom line is beginning to sag. Masrani’s big idea is to create a bigger, badder, cooler dinosaur with more teeth.
Enter Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong), the genetics whiz kid who created the original dinosaurs so many years ago. With his team, he genetically engineers the Indominus rex, a gigantic carnivore with the cunning cleverness of a serial killer. Is this a really bad idea? You bet your velociraptor it is. And speaking of those pack hunting primordial killers, in this version, a former Navy SEAL, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) has been hired for undisclosed reasons to train a pack of petable velos to obey his commands.
Complicating Masrani’s naive desire to boost the killer quotient in his park and Grady’s own desire to keep his work with velociraptors private is a subplot involving Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), the head of security operations for a shady corporation, who wants to weaponize the velociraptors and deploy them to the Middle East. When Indominus rex escapes as she inevitably does, Hoskins plans to use the velos in a field test to destroy her. None of this really matters (or even makes sense) but 14 years in development for this film should have produced a better script.
Although Chris Pratt plays the hero, he isn’t given much chance to revisit his winning wisecracking persona from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. And sadly his Grady plays second fiddle to Masrani’s park operations manager, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is befuddled by a script that calls for her to be sharp, tough, dim-witted, desperate, and run in high heels all at the same time. Unlike her visiting nephews, whose names she can barely remember, the movie spends way too much time with Claire. Besides a check list of generic geeks, bullies, endangered kids and expendable guards is actor Omar Sy as Barry, Grady’s velo helper, who leaps off the screen every time he appears. They should have built the story around him.
Visually ‘Jurassic World’ is both beautiful and scary. A scene of Claire’s nephews cruising the veldt in a crystal bubble is spectacular. The recorded theme park voiceover spouting the usual p.r. hype while scenes of rampaging behemoths flash by is a nice twist as are the few moments that attempt some humor. But ultimately they are too few.
See you at the movies!