Imagine for a second that Steven Spielberg had never made Jurassic Park—indeed, that no one had ever made that definitive dinosaur movie, and that Jurassic World was our first glimpse of CGI dinos. Would we view World as some absolutely amazing creation, or as just one more CGI-heavy blockbuster in a summer full of them?
As it is, amazing is not quite how I would describe the film, even if Spielberg himself had directed it, and its status as the fourth entry in a financial behemoth of a franchise ensures it will stand out among its pricey ilk, incessant CGI be damned. Ultimately, though, while still a far cry from the instant classic that was the first entry, it delivers more than enough of the summer-blockbuster goods.
The chasing and chomping of people by genetically revived dinos here occurs, some two decades after the original film, at the titular dinosaur theme park located on the same Central American island where the first film took place, and after the park’s newest attraction—a genetically modified beast christened the Indominus Rex—escapes from its enclosure and tears across the island.
At this point, it would be difficult for any director to generate any real sense of wonder from the dinos-run-amuck scenario. A master like Spielberg would have had an outside chance, but we get Colin Trevorrow, whose only other effort is the indie Safety Not Guaranteed. It’s all he can do during the first act to make us feel even an inkling of amazement at what we’re seeing.
But once we get through meeting the main characters—teen brothers Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins, their aunt (and the park’s operations manager) Bryce Dallas Howard, Velociraptor whisperer Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio’s obviously evil head of security—and chaos starts spreading ‘round the island, Trevorrow actually proves a pretty decent provider of thrills.
I mean, he’s not nearly as creative as Spielberg, and relies a little too heavily on the head of the Indominus appearing next to frightened characters for suspense. But he does craft some relatively exciting set pieces—Pratt racing through the jungle on a motorcycle amidst a pack of raptors, a helicopter chasing the Indominus, the Indominus battling the T. Rex, pterodactyls attacking the park’s visitors.
The characterizations are pretty thin—Pratt’s hero is little more than a snarky Indiana Jones—but one should expect this, I think, in a movie about rampaging dinosaurs. The only person we really come to care about is Jake Johnson’s control room operator, a nerdy type in a Jurassic Park t-shirt who earns both our sympathy and laughter when he strikes out with a female co-worker. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 10/20/15