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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Jurassic World | Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, BD Wong, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Judy Greer | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Jurassic World | Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, BD Wong, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Judy Greer | Review

Bigger is not always better.  

This time a whole paleontological world goes haywire, not just a park, so expect more of everything, and expect more of the same of everything.

Jurassic World has been domesticated…sort of.  Located off the Costa Rican coast on Isla Nublar, the massive resort features a water park, museum, hands-on exhibits (unearth your own dinosaur bones!) and an amusement park,  where tourists can ride a gyrosphere (large rolling motorized bubble) inside a herd of (you-name-it)-saurs.   Holographic dinosaurs fill great halls of fanny-pack wearing visitors. Families wait for a huge Mosasaurus to leap out of its oceanic habitat and make a snack out of a great white shark.  That’s at least a 20-row splash zone.

Behind the scenes, scores of scientists work on creating genetically mutated dinosaurs, splicing their DNA with other species to make hybrid breeds more suitable to public co-mingling – as if there is such a thing when it comes to thunder lizards and their relatively cell-phone-sized keepers.

The tiny, foolish humans that think they can control all of this include Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) a driven career woman who garners sponsors for the mega-billion enterprise, CEO Masrani (Irrfan Khan), who deems nothing too big, dangerous, or impossible, geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong, the lone original JP cast member) who delights in playing Frankenstein with reptilian physiology, and questionable contractor Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio) who wants to weaponize “trained” velociraptors for use in warfare.

Only former Navy-vet-turned-raptor-trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is a voice of reason in the ferocious playground.  He can get raptors to obey his command, but knows he’s one millisecond away from becoming their lunch. If only the others would listen to him, especially Hoskins, whose swagger and demeanor spell out arrogance, entitlement, and big-toothed trouble.

Then there are the kids.  There must be kids so that they can be in danger.  And not just the anonymous hordes of tourist kids – these have to be kids that you know by name and care about, because their parents are going through a divorce, because their workaholic aunt has no time for them, and because they learn to bond with each other through surviving giant reptile attacks.

Enter Claire's nephews, brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins). Their parents Karen and Scott (Judy Greer and Andy Buckley) are soon to split, and want the boys to spend quality time with Aunt Claire, but she’s busy closing a lucrative sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola.  The boys are promptly handed over to Claire’s assistant Zara (Katie McGrath).  

Maybe All-Access passes to the park will make up for that.  The brothers soon ditch Zara to explore on their own, and all this on the very day that ultra-aggressive, rogue hybrid Indominus Rex (part T-Rex and part proprietary blends of other DNA that make it camouflage-able and intelligent enough to hunt for sport) escapes its paddock.

The first hour introduces all of these characters; the second is devoted to keeping them alive because I-Rex is a heat seeking set of jaws that knows just where to find prey, and that overcrowded theme park looks (and feels) inviting. Zach and Gray are among its first human encounters after it escapes its heavily guarded compound and punctures quite a few armed guards.  Talk about fighting tooth and nail!  Well, claw, anyway.

What works: 
The impressive visuals, fully realized themed resort, and the introduction of various dinosaur species into the mix with aquatic and aerial capabilities for added menace.  CGI/live action mesh is indeed convincing.  3D capabilities are negligible, but work best when a fast-moving predator is almost upon one of its victims.  There’s one good laugh late in the film when a romantic gesture does not go as planned.  The majestic theme song makes a return, reworked by Michael Giacchino.


What doesn’t:

Many dimwitted, greedy characters that lack basic common sense, combined with a requisite sparring couple that eventually fall for each other (after many lines of eye-rolling dialogue) and copycat scenes directly from JP (a goat, a red flair, big chunk ‘o amber with a mosquito in it, two kids attacked in a vehicle).  

Been there, done that. There’s some originality and a whole lot of rehash. It’s like being constantly reminded, “Remember this?  Remember this?”  from the first iconic film, directed by Steven Spielberg (who executive produced this one).

I do remember, now show me something new.  Banter between Pratt and Howard is clichéd.  Hoskins is a one-note, shady dude, with the exaggerated facial expression to prove it.  The child actors are adequate but hardly compelling characters.

Director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) co-wrote the screenplay along with husband and wife team Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Derek Connolly ( Safety Not Guaranteed) as a sequel to JP, skipping over the next two films in the franchise with a big, unspoken “never mind.”

That’s why JW characters put greed over responsibility, make continually bad choices, and approach ultra-perilous situations with laughably ineffective weapons.  They’ve learned nothing from the past.

Chris Pratt’s Owen is almost too knowledgeable and heroic, but he stands alone. Howard’s Claire lacks insight and is a wide-eyed know-it-all that hovers and annoys. D’Onofrio’s Hoskins has a range that extends from stubborn all the way to bull-headed.  

Meanwhile, a mega-ton carnivore sees them all as hors d’oeuvres and most of them are just about as intelligent.

Chew on that for two hours.

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