22 years exactly after Jurassic Park comes Jurassic World, the fourth film in the franchise, and possibly the best one since the original. Jurassic World takes us back to the island from the first film, where the idea of cloned dinosaurs has been resurrected and expanded. Audiences flock from over the world to see wondrous exhibits presented by corporate sponsors. The park is owned by an eccentric billionaire (as if there is any other kind), and run by the bullheaded and independent Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). Despite having finally introduced the world safely to animals once thought to be extinct, the thrill just isn’t there any more. The park is seeing less growth every year as the novelty fades. Audiences want more danger, and bigger spectacle. Jurassic World intends to deliver by genetically modifying a new dinosaur, more dangerous than one we’ve ever seen before. As you can guess, things go pretty awry from here, and only Veloci-whisperer (Chris Pratt) can hope to stop it. Oh, and just for giggles, a subplot about Claire’s nephews is thrown in so younger audience members can find a character within their wheelhouse.
Jurassic World, come for the story, stay for the spectacle. The story is just really an excuse to throw the audience into a modern day monster thriller. The characters aren’t particularly deep, but really is that what you came to this movie for? Sure, Chris Pratt continues to show after his breakout in Guardians of the Galaxy, that he is in fact a enthralling leading man. Pratt has the comedic chops to keep audiences entertained, and the dramatic chops to make even a far fetched character believable. His counterpart in Bryce Dallas Howard manages to hit the right notes, despite her character being a mesh of somewhat offensive female-centric tropes. Howard makes the best of it, despite not changing out of her heels for the duration of the film. Supporting the two leads are Ty Sympkins and Nick Robinson, who play much the same role as the children from the first film. Adults might find them a bit grating at times, but they are essential to some of the dangerous elements of the plot.
The real star of the show are the dinosaurs. Director Colin Trevorrow makes no mistake in realizing the real stars behind the original film were not the human actors, but the frightening dinosaurs. Trevorrow creates a great sense of danger at times, without relying too much on jump scares. His direction of Vincent D’Onofrio’s villainous Injen employee is a bit heavy handed at times, as it tends to play the dastardly villain card a bit too much. Trevorrow catches a lot of the spirit of the first film, but ultimately was doomed to only be second best. The first film is widely regarded as a classic, and still 22 years later contains effects that hold up when others of its generation don’t. The original film blew people away with effects that no one had ever used as effectively as Spielberg did. Trevorrow should be commended for capturing the same spirit as the original, and exceeding expectations when the bar is already set so high.