Jurassic World (2015)

(On Cable TV, April 2016) I wasn’t exactly demanding a Jurassic Park sequel, but there’s still some kick to the idea of humans facing down unnatural predators and considering the progress in special effects technology since the 1993 original, I’d have to be almost willfully incurious not to see Jurassic World. The result is … middling. Nearly twenty-five years of CGI development means that this fourth film is crammed with action, sweeping camera moves and dinosaurs once it’s done teasing audiences during its third act. The climax comes complete with a long thrilling single-shot in which nearly everything gets destroyed around our running, ducking, dodging protagonists. Technically, it’s a super-polished production on par with nearly every big special-effect spectacle we’ve seen recently. Director Colin Tremorrow pole-vaults from indie feature Safety Not Guaranteed to blockbusters with this one, and Chris Pratt solidifies his unlikely rise to superstardom. However, as you may fear, the script (liberally reflecting the original Jurassic Park) is also on par with said special-effects spectacle: It moves the pieces across the board in time for the next action sequence, but it’s pure surface work with little underneath. The structure is intensely familiar, the plot beats are predictable and the overall dramatic arc holds few surprises. (There’s a nice acceleration in pure chaos as the film advances, though, at least until the suddenly more tepid third act.) As a result, Jurassic World feels a lot like its fictional theme park’s namesake: a carefully predetermined ride with obvious commercial sponsors, bereft of heart when going for simple entertainment and far more predictable. At times, the script almost becomes playful, but then retreats in comfortable mediocrity. (There are exceptions, such as an unwarranted lengthy death scene that seems taken from a different film.) Is Jurassic World entertaining? It sure is. Could it have been much better? Almost certainly: It’s light on thematic content (“learn that we’re not in control”) is bluntly stated, and that’s almost it), exceptionally predictable when it comes to drama, and even mentioning its own absurdities (see; high-heels) isn’t enough to make them forgivable. But, as we know and as the characters of the movies know (because a lot of stuff was packed in boxes in anticipation of the sequel), there will be another Jurassic movie, and another, and another…

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