The latest installment in the dinosaur-disaster series stars charming Chris Pratt in a preposterous and entertaining story.
“These people, they never learn,” murmurs a minor character in “Jurassic World,” and if I’d had a glass I’d have raised it. The silly but irresistible fourth film in Steven Spielberg’s T-rex-sized dinosaur franchise, directed this time around by Colin Trevorrow (whose first film was the made-in-Seattle “Safety Not Guaranteed”), “Jurassic World” would have us believe that a crew of very rich and (theoretically) very smart people would build an entire massive theme park around the experience of interacting with actual dinosaurs — and that the dinosaurs won’t hurt anyone because, well, they just won’t. Except for that one time. Or maybe more than once. Anyway, it won’t happen ever again! Pass the money!
So, here we are in Jurassic World, a luxury island resort complete with Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s and something called Jurassic Tennis, and nobody’s supposed to talk about that time or three back then when unpleasant things happened. Particularly Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, in a sharp-edged Anna Wintour haircut), the operations manager, who refers to the complex’s newly gene-spliced and super-dangerous dinosaur as “it” (everyone else respectfully calls the creature “she”). Claire’s too busy career-ing to hang with her adorable visiting nephews (Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson), and is so uptight that she resists the charms of Owen (Chris Pratt), the park’s resident dinosaur whisperer and Hot Dude Who Dresses Vaguely Like Indiana Jones. (The Spielberg allusions are numerous; note, also, a shark cameo, and a cuddly petting-zoo dinosaur who’s a dead ringer for E.T.)
You can fill in the script from here: Dinosaurs escape, cute nephews are in peril, various people get munched, Claire’s uptightness eventually melts (and her severe haircut turns curly). But while this film never quite evokes the awe a lot of us remember from watching the original “Jurassic Park,” it still looks scarily impressive. Flying dinosaurs recall “The Birds” on steroids; velociraptors prance menacingly; and the biggest new dino — Indominus rex, so we’re told — demonstrates an alarming habit of sneaking up on her prey, terrorizing them with one massive eye. She’s also pretty smart; well, smarter than Claire, which admittedly isn’t the highest bar. (Fashion/survival tip, for Claire or anyone: When chased by dinosaur, kick high heels off.)
Movie Review ★★½
‘Jurassic World,’ with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Irrfan Khan. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Trevorrow, based on characters created by Michael Crichton. 124 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril. Several theaters.
Pratt, though he spends much of his screen time staring very intently at the raptors (his relationship with the creatures, as Owen explains to Claire, is based on “mutual respect”), is his usual appealing self here, and he and the CGI crew make the film good popcorn fun. See “Jurassic World” on the biggest screen you can find (for the record, I saw it in IMAX 3D at Pacific Science Center), tune out the screenplay, enjoy the silly chase scenes and swooping camera work, and wonder if this franchise has finally reached its end. As this summer’s disaster movies blur together in my head, I find myself hoping that The Rock might drop by the resort next time, to wrestle a T-rex or two and maybe create a messy love triangle with Owen and Claire. These people, they never learn.