Review: Jurassic World

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: More than twenty years after the Isla Nublar disaster, the former Jurassic Park has become a multi-billion dollar theme park, complete with genetically modified dino-hybrids. When the newest hybrid, the Indominus Rex, goes haywire and escapes into the park, the guests only hope is former Navy-man Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and his specially trained but highly unpredictable Velociraptors.

REVIEW: Having been in development hell for over a decade, clearly Universal’s betting big on JURASSIC WORLD, with them having pulled out all the stops to make a gigantic blockbuster. I’m sure the studio is hoping this will do for kids today what the original did for their parents back in 1993. Both sequels have been more-or-less ignored here, with this being a kind of soft reboot that picks up where the original left off. The result is all but guaranteed to be a blockbuster smash and while it’s certainly uneven, overall it’s a fun film that should work well as a good family roller-coaster ride – even if it doesn’t come close to recapturing the magic of the original. However, bear in mind that’s a pretty tall order that even Spielberg himself couldn’t pull off in THE LOST WORLD.

Now that “The Bearded One” has stepped aside, how does new director Colin Trevorrow do? Well, considering that his only other credit was a modest (but great) indie – SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED – he did quite well even if he’s no Spielberg. It’s hard to fault him for that, as who is? Certainly he gives JURASSIC WORLD his all, apeing the Spielberg’s style almost to the point of distraction, from the common fractured family story line, a heavy emphasis on children, and a very John Williams-style score by Michael Giacchino, which uses the familiar theme but doesn’t rely on it too heavily.

Really, the direction is fine. If JURASSIC WORLD has a problem is that for the first half of the movie it’s patterned too closely on the original, with Tye Simpkins and Nick Robinson (THE KINGS OF SUMMER) as the two kids lost in the park, while the dino baddie slowly starts to run amuck. The famous “water shot” from the first film is paid homage to, only this time it’s blood dripping on a leaf that does the trick.

It takes a little too long to really get started, with Bryce Dallas Howard‘s park CEO being too cold a character to really warm to, with her about-face as her nephews wind up in danger hitting an odd note in that she seems more concerned with how their mom will react rather than if the boys are OK. Howard does her best, but it’s a poorly written part and the rat-a-tat-tat romantic patter between her and Chris Pratt‘s alpha-male hero is just as goofy as that early clip suggested.

That said, things pick up big time once the carnage really starts to pile up, with some great action scenes, including a great pterodactyl attack and a surprisingly sad bit involving a wounded brontosaurus that will no doubt make a lot of the younger views weep into their popcorn (heck, I almost cried). In the end though, a huge chunk of the credit has to go to Chris Pratt. While I absolutely loved him in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, I thought the crowning of him as the new king of Hollywood was a little premature, but it can’t be denied the guy is a full-on megastar in the making. He’s got charisma to burn, an imposing physique, and more ruggedness than a lot of other young action heroes out there. What’s really interesting here is how Pratt never slips too far into Peter Quill mode, opting to play this in a classic-cool kind of way that’s closer to a guy like Steve McQueen than anyone has gotten in a while. While they may lay it on a little too thick with everyone stopping periodically to comment on how cool he is, they’ve got a point. He really is cool.

However, it can’t be denied that as far as the cast goes, Pratt is pretty much the whole show here. While Howard certainly grows on you as the film goes on, her part is not well-conceived at all, and arguably very culpable in the anarchy of the second half, which is a bizarre choice. The supporting cast doesn’t fare too much better, with Vincent D’Onofrio‘s role as a military guy wanting to turn dinosaurs into weapons being a really dumb addition to the plot that just eats up screen time, even though he does his best with what he’s given. The only one who really gets to shine is Trevorrow’s SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED star Jake Johnson, who supplies some much needed comic relief. The dinos themselves are also a little too cartoony for my taste, although in our era of ultra-CGI in every movie, I’m sure that’s unavoidable if unfortunate. For my money, the dinos in JURASSIC PARK & THE LOST WORLD still look better.

While it’s certainly a flawed movie that takes too long to get going, once it does JURASSIC WORLD is quite a lot of fun, and overall I had a very good time which, in the end, is all you can ask for. It’s no game changer, but you’ll certainly get your money’s worth – even in 3D.


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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.