Jurassic World — sadly — isn’t J urassic Park. The latter ranks No. 1 on my list of summer movie thrill-rides. The former lands high on my list of major disappointments.
Steven Spielberg’s original film was more fun and entertaining than the biggest, baddest theme park rollercoaster ride. In 2013, Spielberg released a good 3-D version to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his original movie.
Both were a blast.
Jurassic World follows the theme park theme, and it’s directed and co-written by Colin Trevorrow, who did one of my all-time favorite indie films: 2012’s Safety Not Guaranteed. However, other than a TV movie, it is the only movie he’s done.
The inexperience shows.
Safety is clever and original; Jurassic World is not. That touch of whimsy, sharp wit and some of the thrill-ride of the first movie are missing. Another flaw is a plot — taken from an original script from Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver — that follows director Steven Spielberg and writer Michael Crichton’s original concept.
It’s a clone and — as you know from your science-fiction-movie experience — cloning just doesn’t work.
Jurassic World happens 22 years after John Hammond’s disaster. Jurassic World is a successful theme park on Hammond’s island. Dinosaurs and tourists mix and mingle. But after 10 years of operation, tourist numbers are dwindling. Like all corporations, bigger, better and more profits are the mantra, so park director Claire Dearing — played by The Help’s Bryce Dallas Howard — and her DNA experts create the most dangerous dinosaur of them all.
It’s a 50-foot monster called Idominus Rex. Raised in isolation, the dino is — like many of its cousins — intelligent. Indominus escapes, goes on a rampage and threatens more than 20, 000 tourists. Dearing — whose nephews are visiting and are in direct danger from the beast — enlists Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady to rescue them and help stop the carnage.
Grady is played by the always appealing Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt.
Jurassic World is missing a sense of humor. There’s no Jeff Goldblum, whose Dr. Ian Malcolm tossed off nonstop snarky comments and had a cynical view of the world, who elicited the laughs needed to buy the ridiculous premise.
The lack of laughter is a disappointment, and Pratt is most disappointing of all. He has the tools to be an action hero in the style of Harrison Ford. Like Ford, Pratt is a ruggedly handsome actor with excellent comedy skills and impeccable timing. His upside is infinite.
So give the guy some lines and let him roll.
Instead of using Pratt and letting the rest of the cast feed off his energy, Trevorrow and his Safety Not Guaranteed co-writer Derek Connolly pack the movie with preachy antimilitary and anticapitalism themes, and a predictable, paint-by-numbers plot.
The dinosaur theme park concept is fun. Or it was in the first film. And what you get here — instead of an original movie — is part four of the series. With the exception of a few movies done from books, series movies always go downhill from the original.
This one is downhill big time.
The cast — especially the exceptionally entertaining Pratt — is superb. You can’t beat the special effects and the sets. But Jurassic World is as wrong as the urge of the dinosaur creators and the greedy capitalists to control nature.
This is surprising, because Jurassic World’s executive producer is Spielberg. The look of the movie is much like his original and with something so personal, you’d think his genius would touch the movie somewhere.