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Jurassic World Movie Review

Jurassic World: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art
Jurassic World is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD combo.

Jurassic World (2015) movie poster Jurassic World

Theatrical Release: June 12, 2015 / Running Time: 124 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Colin Trevorrow / Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver (story & screenplay); Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow (screenplay); Michael Crichton (characters)

Cast: Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), Irrfan Khan (Simon Masrani), Vincent D'Onofrio (Vic Hoskins), Ty Simpkins (Gray Mitchell), Nick Robinson (Zach Mitchell), Jake Johnson (Lowery Cruthers), Omar Sy (Barry), BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Judy Greer (Karen Mitchell), Lauren Lapkus (Vivian), Brian Tee (Katashi Hamada), Katie McGrath (Zara Young), Andy Buckley (Scott Mitchell), Jimmy Fallon (Himself), Brad Bird (voice of Monorail Announcer), Colin Trevorrow (voice of Mr. DNA)

Buy Jurassic World from Amazon.com: Blu-ray 3D Combo Blu-ray Combo DVD Limited Edition Gift Set Instant Video
Buy the 4-Movie Jurassic Park Collection: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD

The timing feels right for a new Jurassic Park movie. The disappointments of the two sequels have been forgotten, if not forgiven. Meanwhile, the original film has been elevated from cultural event to modern classic, treated as such with a 3D theatrical reissue for its 20th anniversary.
In recent summers we've seen franchises dormant or diminished like Planet of the Apes, X-Men, and Toy Story get revived and revitalized with the right touch and tact.

So, here is Jurassic World, a sequel that is fine with you not remembering the two sequels before it. It doesn't so much set out to do right where they went wrong as to be a new generation's Jurassic Park while still appeasing those who grew up adoring Steven Spielberg's triumphant 1993 filming of Michael Crichton's bestseller.

Today, Isla Nublar, the Central American island where the original park was built, is thriving as the site of Jurassic World, a fully open and incredibly popular family attraction. While the original Jurassic Park was part-zoo, part-museum, Jurassic World is closer to Disney and Universal theme parks with a touch of SeaWorld: highly commercialized, faintly educational, and loads of fun for kids and their parents or chaperones. (Product placement is a breeze when you've got a setting that can support Starbucks and other stores.)

Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), Owen (Chris Pratt), Zach (Nick Robinson), and Gray (Ty Simpkins) brace themselves in the midst of some dinosaur danger in "Jurassic World."

While their parents (Judy Greer and Andy Buckley) are secretly getting a divorce, two kids (Nick Robinson and Iron Man 3's Ty Simpkins) have been sent alone on a Christmas break trip to the park. Their Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is one of the people in charge. A career-driven woman who refers to the dinosaurs exclusively as "assets", Claire fits the kids with VIP wristbands and leaves them in the company of her British assistant. Those nephews' enjoyment isn't high on Claire's priority list, not when one of the park's biggest creations to date -- a monstrous genetically engineered hybrid whose make-up is unknown even to her -- is feared missing.

The disappearance is on everyone's radar, especially Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a Navy man turned raptor whisperer who has been training the deadly predators like a platoon of pets. Other parties alerted include the park's hands-on owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), an adventurous successor to John Hammond, and Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), an InGen executive who is cooking up something big and probably bad. Manning controls and providing light comic relief is Lowery (Jake Johnson), a more playful variation on Samuel L. Jackson's techxpert, with dinosaur figures on his station and an eBay-bought Jurassic Park shirt on his torso.

Jurassic World illustrates the very fine line between genius sci-fi blockbuster and Syfy monster B-movie. It treads that line, putting the steep estimated $150 million production budget to work on suitably grand visuals, but also occasionally feeling like the kind of movie that in thirty years you'd be astonished was ever in fashion. The characters lack the maturity and sophistication of the original film's personalities. Most ridiculous is Claire, a joyless buttoned-down workaholic who improbably turns into a sweaty, tank-topped Ellen Ripley-type badass over the course of a few hours.

Jake Johnson provides some light comic relief as control panel technician Lowery Cruthers. B.D. Wong's Dr. Henry Wu is the unlikely only character from this franchise to resurface.

Pratt, who is top-billed following his lovable turn in Guardians of the Galaxy, one of a string of great movies he's made over the past few years, doesn't get to do much with his lead, who kind of recalls a less humorous Indiana Jones or a more focal, American variation on the original film's park warden Robert ("Clever girl!") Muldoon.
Jurassic World wrapped production mere days after Guardians opened, but it's not like Pratt's comedic chops were a secret until then. It is strange those gifts weren't put to use here, as if Owen was designed to be more like Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm (who makes a background book cover cameo here) in The Lost World than in the original Jurassic.

Khan, adding a touch of class, and Johnson, some welcome humor, are two of the brighter spots in the cast. But it's not as if the typical viewer is here for the humans. They're here for the dinos, of which there are plenty, all of them the digital variety as opposed to the mix of practical animatronics and computer animation employed on the original. I guess the effects here have improved upon 1993's definition of state of the art. But the effects are only as good as the story allows them to be and this one doesn't have the intrigue and universal appeal of Crichton and David Koepp's stellar, streamlined adaptation. It does show a bit more imagination than the sequels, only the first of which had a literary basis.

World's timing was not simply to allow demand to build up, but to figure out how to get this potentially quite lucrative franchise back on track. Four writers are credited with the screenplay, two of them -- Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the duo behind the unexpectedly excellent recent Planet of the Apes reboots -- also attributed on the story. The late Crichton's characters credit is very nearly unnecessary; just one of his characters -- BD Wong's Henry Wu -- is back. You appreciate that one clear link to the original film, even if that character is tainted in the reprisal process. Most notable among the credited scribes (and who knows how many people chipped in without credit) is Colin Trevorrow, who also directs. Having made just one previous film (the appealing indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed), Trevorrow seemed like an inspired outside-the-box selection for this helm. But this film could have been directed by anyone who knows the kind of big movie a studio wants and respects their wishes above any creative impulses he may have.

It seems safe to say that Jurassic World will be in fashion, at least for one enormous opening weekend. Aside from perhaps Pixar's excellent Inside Out, there isn't a film with a real shot to dominate the rest of the summer moviegoing season. Nothing is likely to top Avengers: Age of Ultron and even Furious 7's $350 million domestic (if we're going to stretch "summer" to early April) seems out of reach. But Jurassic World is a film that will sell tickets on its title and star alone. The world should be ready for more dinosaurs and even if this isn't close to the intelligent, breathtaking experience Jurassic Park was twenty-two summers ago, it is a passable popcorn diversion, an enjoyable two hours that almost certainly won't stand up to much thought or cynicism.

Buy Jurassic World from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D Combo / Blu-ray Combo / DVD / Limited Edition Gift Set / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Buy the 4-Movie Jurassic Park Collection from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD

Related Reviews:
Chris Pratt: Guardians of the Galaxy The Lego Movie | Bryce Dallas Howard: The Help The Village Hereafter Spider-Man 3
Written and Directed by Colin Trevorrow: Safety Not Guaranteed | Written by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Avengers: Age of Ultron Tomorrowland Inside Out Godzilla (2014)
Nick Robinson: The Kings of Summer | Ty Simpkins: Iron Man 3 Insidious Insidious: Chapter 2

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Reviewed June 12, 2015.

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