Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Irrfan Khan
Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, based on characters by Michael Crichton
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril
Running Time: 124
Date: 06/12/2015

Jurassic World (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like any good reboot should, the fourth Jurassic Park movie, director Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World, ignores the not-so-hot sequels The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001) and starts fresh.

It has been 22 years since Steven Spielberg's original Jurassic Park, based on Michael Crichton's novel. The only uneaten original character in this movie is scientist Henry Wu (San Francisco's BD Wong).

Since those days, the successful, safer, more contained Jurassic World has sprung up. But every few years, there is pressure to come up with new attractions to boost attendance.

The latest is a hybrid called an "Indominus Rex," a mix of T. Rex and various "secret" ingredients. Operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) busily prepares the beast for its debut, but complications arise.

Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), who has successfully managed to train a quartet of velociraptors, is called in for his opinion, but the monster escapes.

Unfortunately, Claire's two nephews (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) are vacationing in the park and in danger. It's up to Claire and Owen — despite their romantic tension — to rescue them.

Director Trevorrow, who made the outstanding low-budget sci-fi film Safety Not Guaranteed — and is now working with a budget approximately 253 times larger — seems like a natural. He has turned in a brisk, bright summer roller coaster ride. It's a fine popcorn muncher.

Like the rebooted theme park of the title, this movie exists to show off some cool dinosaurs, but also to make as much money as possible. The cleverest thing Trevorrow has done is to acknowledge and make peace with the business end of things, balancing art and commerce skillfully.

Like Spielberg did in the original, Trevorrow balances likable characters, with mini-conflicts of their own, with awe-inspiring, show-stopping dinosaur sequences. Though the movie rampages slightly past the two-hour mark, it never feels long or slow.

Pratt, an actor capable of brightening up any production, effectively remixes his heroic Guardians of the Galaxy persona, while the lovely Howard helps out, impressively, while wearing heels.

Irrfan Khan and Omar Sy add some cultural balance, and Jake Johnson (also in Safety Not Guaranteed) provides some laughs.

Only Vincent D'Onofrio gets a bum deal as a security man who dreams of using velociraptors as military weapons. It's a rotten idea, and the movie lays on its cautionary message a little too thick.

The bigger theme is the ages-old warning that man shouldn't mess with Mother Nature, but the clear point of the whole thing is that, sometimes, things with sharp teeth are more fun.

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