Rajeev Masand

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Jurassic World

Rating: 3.5

June 12, 2015

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Judy Greer, Omar Sy, Jake Johnson

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Early on in Jurassic World, while explaining the current challenges of the business to potential sponsors, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Claire, the uptight operations manager of the movie’s titular theme park says: “No one is impressed by a dinosaur anymore. Kids look at a brachiosaurus like it’s an elephant.” She may well be echoing the sentiments of the makers of this film, who likely found themselves similarly pressured to raise the stakes and up their game. It has after all been 22 years since Steven Spielberg made us gasp at the sight of ripples in those cups of water on a jeep’s dashboard, announcing the entry of cinema’s most famous reptile.

When the new film opens, some two decades after the events of Jurassic Park, we see that John Hammond’s dream of a fully functioning family-friendly dinosaur theme park has been realized. Thousands of tourists – among them two young brothers (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) – mill about this potentially dangerous Disneyland, where humans and beasts appear to have arrived at a tentative arrangement. Former navy man Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a member of the park’s on-site staff, is tasked with training the four velociraptors to respond to his call. Meanwhile Claire’s boss, park owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), has commissioned his scientists to create a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur to boost visitor attendance. But when this super-intelligent, raised-in-captivity killing-machine – the 50-foot Indominus Rex – escapes from its pen, all manner of havoc ensues.

Co-writer and director Colin Trevorrow, his ear placed firmly to the ground, seldom skimps on the kind of spectacle that fans have come to expect from a new Jurassic movie. CGI and VFX have come a long way since the last film in 2001, and Trevorrow makes it a point to reflect that, evoking awe and wonder particularly in the scenes with the terrifying raptors, and the Mosasaurus, a giant aquatic beast that we’re introduced to in a terrific Sea World-like sequence. There’s a steady buildup before the Indominus Rex is revealed in all its fearsome glory, resulting in a few moments of great tension. But unlike the previous films, the body count is high in this one – good luck trying to keep track of just how many people are killed. It’s evident that Treverrow wants to create a very real sense of danger and risk, which is highlighted in those scenes where hundreds of flying critters terrorize the visitors when they’re released into the park after their enclosure is destroyed.

While all along raising the same moral questions of the earlier films – about mankind’s tendency to play God, and the possibly horrible outcome of genetic engineering –Jurassic World also toys with some bold new ideas. One of these is the possibility of using the raptors to work alongside humans. The other is the poetic justice in the fact that the oldest living creatures on Earth should destroy this futuristic, state-of-the-art attraction created by man.

There’s the obligatory romantic track between Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s characters, which feels contrived and entirely unnecessary. Yet Pratt brings some refreshing moments of lightheartedness and humor as a breather between all the dino-mayhem.

Culminating in a bloated climax of mass destruction, not unlike the Transformers movies, Jurassic World frankly delivers enough bang for your buck. Sure, I’d have liked to see more ‘implied danger’. Remember that scene from Jurassic Park of a door handle being pushed down, suggesting that the raptors were smarter than we’d imagined? But hey, 1993 is a long time gone and perhaps there’s little room for subtlety today.

Nevertheless, I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Jurassic World. It’s bigger and louder, and delivers plenty thrills.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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