WHAT'S IT ABOUT? 20 years after Jurassic Park, the island has been turned into a fully-functional theme park, akin to Sea World or Disneyland. 20,000 guests are put at risk when a terrifying genetic hybrid breaks loose.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A-) The snobby, nit-picky movie critic in me wants to give this film a B or a B+. The character arcs and narrative twists are generally predictable, it's highly derivative of the first movie, and some of the plot devices seem rather ludicrous. But the less cynical, movie-loving kid in me found the whole affair to be deeply satisfying and refreshingly fun. So much so that I would see it again in theaters.
Jurassic World, like 2006's underrated Rocky Balboa, is savvy enough to remind audiences why they loved the first movie, leaning on nostalgia while smartly acknowledging the passage of time. There's a lot to love about this new film. It recaptures that sense of awe and wonder. Setting the film in a fully-functional tourist attraction is an inspired idea, and I got swept up in the fantasy again. While director Colin Trevorrow is no match for Spielberg in crafting suspense, he unleashes impressive dino mayhem on a grand scale, and the action is exciting, bold, and inventive.
As for the potentially silly plot devices mentioned earlier, the film is well-written, well-executed, and well-acted enough that suspension of disbelief comes easily. Speaking of the acting, Jurassic World finally gives us characters to care about again (in the other sequels they were so annoying that I was rooting for their deaths). Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) secures his leading-man status here. He's charismatic, intelligent, and macho, with just the right touch of humor and compassion. He's a fine hero, but he doesn't grow much. Bryce Dallas Howard, on the other hand, gets the meatiest arc, and it's rewarding to watch her go from driven propriety to courageous and caring. Heck, even the token “kids-in-peril” are well-realized (the youngest you'll recognize as Tony Stark's little buddy from Iron Man 3).
Jurassic World could use a bit more humor to break up the intensity, but what little there is is effective. Like too many “franchise movies” today, it briefly gets sidetracked setting up the next story instead of focusing on its own (in fairness, that avenue is promising). Also, as in the first film, the CGI during daylight scenes isn't always believable while the night-time stuff looks fantastic. It doesn't matter. This is a movie that thrills and moves its audience while stoking the fires of their imagination. Jurassic World isn't a groundbreaking classic like the first film, but it has earned its place beside it. Welcome back.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Jurassic World is rated PG-13. There is a lot of dino mayhem, with soldiers and innocent tourists attacked and eaten, with one instance of blood splatter. There's a couple of mild innuendos and some moderate profanity (a handful of s-words, SOB's, and religious exclamations). Not for small children. Teens, and older kids who could handle previous Jurassic films, will be fine.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Families can be the greatest source of strength, comfort, and love when members put aside self-interest to be there for each other. Respect animals as living beings, not merely resources to be exploited.
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