Director: Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
3 (out of 5) Globes
It’s not clear how cynical “Jurassic World” wants us to think it is. It does claim, after all, that humankind would ignore three separate mass dinosaur attacks — chronicled in three previous blockbusters — and open a dino-park. What’s definitely cynical is everything else. “No one’s impressed by dinosaurs anymore,” declaims park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) early in the franchise’s fourth, which itself arrives 22 years after the first wowed audiences with dinos seamlessly milling about with actual actors. We probably no longer notice the magic of raptors hobnobbing with humans, just as we’re probably not all that impressed with a series’ fourquel, especially in yet another summer overrun with monster-sized movie product, each struggling to make a titanic opening weekend dent before moving on.
At its most interesting, “Jurassic World” acts as a savage commentary on its own existence. The film’s best joke is not just that a park finally opened, but that it has trouble keeping the interest of an eternally bored populace, where every next level chunk of one-upmanship must eventually itself be one-upped. Thus, the geneticists, responding to cranky missives from panicking execs, have had to start creating new and bigger and scarier beasties to harness attention. When this new dino, which basically looks like a scarier T-Rex, is introduced to the park, next level mayhem ensues, and it seems like only the park’s resident, well, apparently this is a thing, but “raptor whisperer” — a disarmingly strapping Chris Pratt, basically doing “Parks and Rec” alter ego Burt Macklin but for reals — can save the day.
At its most fun, “Jurassic World” even somewhat comes somewhat close to almost recreating the semi-campy thrills of Spielberg’s two originals, including the unwieldy but underrated second. (The third, helmed by Joe Johnston, is nothing to sneeze at either.) The director is Colin Trevorrow, who justly became a pariah when he went from a guy who made some indie — the scruffy time travel rom-com “Safety Not Guaranteed” — to helming a $200 million property, all while established female directors were being booted from franchises on merest whim. For what it’s worth, Trevorrow either doesn’t embarrass himself or was handily sucked into a well-oiled machine built to do its best imitation of the series’ original director. “Jurassic World” never comes close to Spielberg precision, but it tries. The first assault milks both suspense and funny, tiny character moments out of camera placement. (The irritated look on the face of the film’s second victim right before he’s chomped up is priceless.)