There have been more than two decades worth of technological advancements since the first Jurassic Park film, something that the makers of Jurassic World readily admit. It’s unfortunate that the script is more prehistoric, by comparison.
Indeed, the latest installment in the big-budget franchise is an exercise in style over substance, with the visual thrills tending to drown out most of the suspense and human emotion.
The story takes place 20 years or so after the original Jurassic Park ended, with the dinosaur theme park on a remote Costa Rican island now a bustling attraction that draws millions of visitors every year. But in today’s society of flashy trends and short attention spans, the Triceratops and Velociraptors just aren’t cutting it anymore. Profits are suffering, and fans want something new — and bigger.
Enter the massive predator “Indominus rex,” a genetically engineered T-rex that is heralded as the park’s new star, except that its unveiling backfires when it attacks, endangering everyone on the island. Among those caught in the chaos are a scientist (Chris Pratt), a tour guide (Bryce Dallas Howard), her two young nephews, and a ruthless investor (Vincent D’Onofrio) who only sees bottom-line implications.
Jurassic World is a first-rate technical achievement, whipped into a slick and stylish package that seamlessly blends lush tropical landscapes with abundant visual effects, many of them in 3D.
The film realizes the dinosaurs are the attraction and smartly gives the spotlight to them, with director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) including numerous close-ups of the eyes and teeth to enhance the ferocity of the beasts.
For those concerned with chronology, Jurassic World essentially picks up after the first film while ignoring its two sequels. Some old friends return in the creature category (along with the majestic John Williams theme song), although the batch of terrified humans is entirely new.
The formulaic plot progresses pretty much as you’d expect, with the characters demonstrating various degrees of ignorance or reluctant heroism as they scramble to avoid becoming the next victim. The four screenwriters toss in a half-hearted commentary about cloning and corporate greed, but mainly dispose with the science quickly in favor of a series of chase sequences between man and mutant.
The result yields its share of excitement, although rather than take the concept in a new direction, this sequel seems to be living in the past.