This classic Hollywood film franchise returns to the silver screen with all the action of the original.
The word "classic" is tossed around easily, but few things -- or films, in this case -- can truly be considered worthy of that moniker. Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, based on Michael Crichton's book of the same name, is one of them. Highly praised for its direction, score and advanced visual effects, the film is undoubtedly a staple in cinema, prompting the creation of an entire franchise. While many have been able to enjoy Jurassic Park-themed rides at any Universal Studios Park, they can enjoys a new story with the film series' revival in the fourth installment, Jurassic World.
Set twenty-two years after the original first attempt, the film opens on Isla Nublar, the original island of Jurassic Park, where Jurassic World operates as a successful theme park (think Animal Kingdom only with actual dinosaurs). Brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) have been sent to visit their aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). Unfortunately, as operations manager, she is too busy courting sponsors to guide them around Jurassic World herself and sends her assistant in her place. The park is desperate to take things to the next level and bring in more revenue. As such, InGen's team of geneticists has pieced together the DNA of several dinosaurs and animals to create a new type of dinosaur that they call Indominus Rex. Chief geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong) ominously refuses to reveal the exact genetics.
Elsewhere in the park, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) works with the park's four Velociraptors that he's been training. Through much time and practice, he has become their alpha, and they are obedient to his commands, surprising and impressing Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), the head of security at InGen. Seeing their training, he believes that they can be useful to the military, but Owen strongly disagrees. Before he can impress upon Hoskins the danger of using raptors as weapons, Owen leaves at the call of Jurassic World owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) to evaluate the new dinosaur and her enclosure before opening the attraction.
Realizing that the Indominus Rex was raised in isolation, Owen warns Claire of how much more dangerous this makes her, especially since no one outside of the genetics team knows what kind of DNA is in her. At the enclosure, the Indominus is nowhere to be seen and seems to have escaped. Owen enters with two staff members, and all is quiet. No heat registers are detected, and so they fear that she really has escaped. Then, the Indominus reappears.
Brimming with action and suspense, Jurassic World is the stuff of summer blockbusters. Dangerous fun makes it fit the formula, but the nostalgia is the guarantee to its success. Dedicating more than just a few side comments to the original Jurassic Park, the film does its due diligence in ceding multiple scenes, dialogue and even a character return to the original, which will surely please fans. Unfortunately, it follows the summer blockbuster formula of lacking a consistent tone or well-assembled plot. It is somehow a serious action movie but still a cheesefest. The plot follows two kids lost in Jurassic World and a romance between two co-workers whose chemistry is debatable. Oh, yeah, and a conspiracy by a military contractor. The action is really the best part of it all. Despite all that, the film is still ultimately satisfying with solid performances from Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.
While the film is entertaining, a single question looms over it: Why now? The answer is difficult to pinpoint, but one guess is desperation. Even though there are likely many original screenplays stacked in a pile in a dusty corner office somewhere in Hollywood, the focus of the film industry remains on money, and so that pile will continue to gather dust. But film executives were probably running out of dystopian young adult novels to adapt so they turned to a Hollywood classic, and they struck gold because it guarantees a solid return. The problem is that Jurassic Park is, well, a classic, and in comparison Jurassic World just isn't up to par.
Images courtesy of Universal Pictures.