09242017Headline:

“Jurassic World” movie review

By Jeff Boudreaux

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It’s been 14 years since we’ve last seen the genetically modified dinosaurs that inhabit Isla Nubar’s research facility known as Jurassic Park, and 22 since the groundbreaking first film in the series. And just forget all of the danger that the first three films have shown us in detail because everyone’s favorite prehistoric creatures are now the subject of an amusement park known as “Jurassic World.” Anyone who may have seen the original trilogy will know that such a place can’t be a good idea. Fortunately for us, I can’t say the same for this movie. This belated continuation of Michael Crichton’s vision has bred new life into a series that many had left for dead. To paraphrase the legendary Bette Davis in “All about Eve,” make sure your seat belts are fastened, because we are indeed in for one heck of a bumpy ride!

The film opens with brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell (Nick Robinson and Insidious’ Ty Simpkins) being sent to the theme park by their divorcing parents, to stay for a while with their Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who happens to be the facility’s operations manager. The thing is, Claire really doesn’t have all that much time to spend with her nephews, as she is facing the pressures of running a tourist destination while contending with the park’s unscrupulous owner, Simon Masrani (the terrific Irrfan Khan). You see, Mr. Masrani’s researchers have created a hybrid dinosaur dubbed “Indominus Rex” in an attempt to skyrocket ticket sales. It certainly has worked, because business is booming and Zach and Gray (mostly Gray) are having a good old time. And because anyone associated with the park has never heard of Murphy’s Law, there arises quite the predicament when their extremely aggressive creation escapes, leaving Claire to enlist the help of Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). It is then up to Owen and Claire to rescue Zach and Gray (who have ignored all of the evacuation warnings, mind you) and fashion a plan to defeat the dreaded creature before he turns “Jurassic World” into a true tourist trap!

I sometimes wish I had low expectations for every movie I see, that way I would be rarely disappointed. Unfortunately, life doesn’t adhere to these principles but it sure helped in the case of “Jurassic World.” This was an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish that each and every member of the family can and should enjoy. The dinosaurs are so amazingly rendered this time around, my movie-watching consciousness honestly felt as if Chris Pratt and the terrific Velociraptors were sharing the same camera space. Ah…the suspension of disbelief. That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Chris Pratt

I have to commend the inspired casting of Chris Pratt in a strong, leading man role. I’ll admit that I was a little unsure from the trailers, being so used to his comedic portrayals. However, that’s how you step outside of the box and grow as an actor. In this case, it was perfect casting. I cannot imagine anyone adding anything to the role of Owen Grady that wasn’t done here, and he even manages to reservedly administer a couple of the wisecracks that we would expect from a Chris Pratt characterization. But don’t expect Star-Lord quips, as well you shouldn’t. He’s made the next logical step in his career and fits in very nicely. Bryce Dallas Howard is lovely as usual and showcases an excellent command onscreen. In fact, it’s rather difficult to take your eyes off of her. The two leads work very well together as do the young actors playing Zach and Gray.

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One thing that may make a difference in your viewing experience is whether or not you choose to pay extra and view this film in 3D. A great film is a great film, no matter if you watch it in IMAX or on a 13” television screen. However, if there is one movie this year that you may feel inclined to shell out extra cash for, this should certainly be the one. The amazing use of three-dimensional depth simply blew me away, and while I’m a fan of objects heading towards me, this film needs no further gimmicks and was shrewd to stay away from that.

The outstanding supporting cast features screen veteran Vincent D’Onofrio as Vic Hoskins, Masrani’s head of security (and even more unscrupulous than Masrani) and the hilarious Jake Johnson (Let’s Be Cops) as Lowery Cruthers, the park’s computer tech. And as an added surprise, actor B.D. Wong returns from the first film as Dr. Henry Wu, the creator of the dinosaurs. “Jurassic World” is directed by Colin Trevorrow, who helmed 2012’s quirky independent hit about time travel, “Safety Not Guaranteed.” I think it’s safe to say that he’s hit the big time with this soon-to-be Summer blockbuster.

While enjoying this film, I couldn’t help but notice the structural and situational similarities to one of my all-time favorite science fiction thrillers, 1973’s “Westworld.” It then occurred to me that the aforementioned film was actually written and directed by “Jurassic Park” author Michael Crichton. Was this a coincidence? Probably not, but it is undoubtedly a sincere homage to the creator of this exemplary motion picture franchise that has captivated viewers for nearly a quarter of a century.

***1/2 (three and a half out of four stars)

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