They never learn.
The megalomaniacal billionaire wants to play God and create life.
The brilliant scientist is susceptible to greed and blind ambition.
The wisecracking geek at the computer keeps saying, “Something’s not right,” and “Wait a minute…” but is ineffectual.
The rigid, numbers-crunching administrator in charge doesn’t care about the human element in the profit equation.
The representative of the military-industrial complex is interested only in creating the ultimate fighting machine.
And nobody ever listens to the bearded, macho rogue in the J. Peterman leather vest — the guy who keeps warning them they’re making a BIG mistake by messing with the natural order of things.
“Jurassic World” is pure, dumb, wall-to-wall fun. When they hand you your 3-D glasses, you can check your brain at the door and pick it up on your way out.
About 80 percent of the movie is dedicated to the thundering action sequences, with the remaining time devoted to the usual Spielbergian sci-fi thriller tropes, from the siblings who bond because Mom and Dad might be splitting up to an icy adult who learns to love in time of crisis to the obligatory profit-driven villain who refuses to shut things down even as the body count piles up. (Remember the mayor in “Jaws”? It’s just a little fish problem! Let’s keep the beaches open.)
This is “Jaws” meets “Godzilla” meets, well, the “Jurassic Park” movies, and I love the way “Jurassic World” pays tribute to the groundbreaking original. (A small example: A Jurassic World staffer has just scored a vintage “Jurassic Park” T-shirt on eBay for $150. The ones in mint condition go for $300.)
Set on the same island near Costa Rica that was home to Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is a monstrous, sprawling tourist destination for more than 20,000 visitors every day.
The children can ride docile Triceratops. You can roam the lush grounds in a rotating gyro device that allows you to almost become one with a pack of Stegosauruses. There’s an enormous aquatic attraction featuring a huge Mosasaurus that nibbles on a full shark like it’s a cheese goldfish snack. Everywhere you look in the aviary, there’s a flying Pteranodon.
And yet we’re told the people are bored. As the no-nonsense executive named Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) puts it, for today’s generation, a living, breathing dinosaur is no more exciting than an elephant.
What to do, what to do. How about creating a whole new, super-scary species of dinosaur, containing DNA strands of dozens of creatures? What could possibly go right?
Fresh off his “Guardians of the Galaxy” triumph, a chiseled Chris Pratt plays Owen, a former Navy man who’s now something of a Velociraptor Whisperer. No kidding — using just a little clicker device, a stern voice and the promise of treats in the form of mice, Owen has a special bond with the Raptors, most notably the one he calls Blue, who communicates with Owen almost as if they’re in a Pixar movie.
The moment Owen hears about the 50-foot “Indominus Rex,” and how ol’ Rexy ate his only sibling when he was but a lad, he tells Claire and everyone else they’ve made a big, big, big mistake. Think anyone listens?
Meanwhile, sulking teenager Zach (Nick Robinson) and his annoyingly precocious little brother Gray (Ty Simpkins) have escaped from Aunt Claire’s assistant and are separated from the pack, so to speak, at just the wrong moment. Indominus Rex is on the loose and he’s hunting for sport!
“Jurassic World” earns every inch of its PG-13 rating for some bone-crunching violence, numerous scenes of dinosaurs munching on humans and blood spraying here and there. There’s one fairly sick and wickedly funny scene in which a character is plucked from the ground by a Pteranodon and then dropped in mid-air, only to land in the clutches of ANOTHER Pteranodon, Cirque du Soleil-style, and that’s not the end of her dilemma.
Director Colin Trevorrow and the team of screenwriters have some fun turning summer thriller clichés sideways, producing some major laughs as we catch our breath from the action. Howard is wonderful as Claire, who goes from uptight bureaucrat to bad-ass action hero, and Vincent D’Onofrio has fun hamming it up as Hoskins, the military strategist who actually thinks it would be a good idea for the U.S. military to use trained Velociraptors as weapons.
I’m a big Chris Pratt fan, but he’s so focused on playing the action hero with a smirk on his face and a hankering for the girl who can’t resist his charms, Owen ends up being kind of a stiff. Also, it’s hard not to look a little goofy when you’re pretending to be squaring off against a bunch of Raptors who of course won’t really be in the scene until post-production.
That said, the special effects are indeed pretty special. Rare is the occasion when it doesn’t feel as if humans and dinosaurs are sharing the same space. (It does happen once or twice.)
It’s great to hear the classic John Williams theme in a movie theater again. How can your heart not soar when the music swells and the camera swoops over Jurassic World before all the chaos ensues? You happily strap on the seat belt and let the silly greatness of it all wash over you.
After all, it’s almost summer.
Universal presents a film directed by Colin Trevorrow and written by Trevorrow, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Derek Connolly. Running time: 124 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril). OpensFriday at local theaters.