The dinosaurs look great, but the new ‘Juras­sic’ is old news


Think of “Juras­sic World” as a fam­ily film with teeth. Lots of teeth.

Most of those fangs come cour­tesy of the In­domi­nus rex, a ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied di­nosaur, a killing ma­chine 50 feet long and 18 feet high that would sooner take a bite out of you than look at you. A lot sooner.

But don’t let all that den­tal flash fool you, even if it does lead to as many open-mouthed shots as a doc­u­men­tary on or­thodon­ture. Star­ring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dal­las Howard, “Juras­sic World” spe­cial­izes in the gen­teel PG-13 scare, aim­ing to awe you with its di­nosaur verisimil­i­tude rather than shock you with too much blood on the tracks.

In this it is the clear de­scen­dant of the orig­i­nal 1993 Steven Spiel­berg-di­rected “Juras­sic Park,” which took nov­el­ist Michael Crich­ton’s science-fic­tion con­cept of cre­at­ing dinosaurs from their DNA and used state-of-the-art com­puter-gen­er­ated ef­fects to bring them to life as they’d never been be­fore. As Spiel­berg says in press notes, “tech­no­log­i­cally it was a bench­mark for the en­tire in­dus­try.”

This new Juras­sic film works hard to connect it­self with its block­buster pro­gen­i­tor, in­clud­ing hav­ing a char­ac­ter wear an orig­i­nal logo T-shirt (pur­chased on EBay), talk­ing a lot about vi­sion­ary sci­en­tist Dr. John Ham­mond and bring­ing back the fan fa­vorite ve­loci­rap­tors for an elab­o­rate star turn.

But de­spite the best ef­forts of direc­tor Colin Trevor­row, “Juras­sic World’s” story of In­domi­nus rex on the loose, while cer­tainly ac­cept­able, doesn’t have the same im­pact as the ini­tial film. You can’t ex­pe­ri­ence first love twice, and even though th­ese CGI dinosaurs are doubt­less more re­al­is­tic than what’s come be­fore, the magic of those un­prece­dented mo­ments is be­yond re­cap­tur­ing.

Though “Juras­sic World” is only his sec­ond fea­ture, Trevor­row was an in­trigu­ing choice to di­rect it be­cause his first film, the sweetly ec­cen­tric science-fic­tion fa­ble “Safety Not Guar­an­teed,” gave prom­ise of some­one who (along with his writ­ing part­ner, Derek Con­nolly) could bring warmth and quirky sen­si­bil­ity to a genre sit­u­a­tion.

Rewrit­ing a script by “Planet of the Apes” re­boot­ers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Sil­ver, Con­nolly and Trevor­row have done as well as they could. But that their sen­si­bil­ity is present only around the edges tells you ev­ery­thing you need to know about how the de­mands of tent-pole film­mak­ing make any kind of gen­uine orig­i­nal­ity fiendishly dif­fi­cult.

The cen­tral no­tion of “Juras­sic World” is that it is also set 22 years af­ter the orig­i­nal film and its deadly go­ing­son. Bil­lion­aire Simon Mas­rani (Ir­rfan Khan), the world’s eighth-rich­est man, has taken Dr. Ham­mond’s con­cept and run with it, turn­ing Isla Nublar off the coast of Costa Rica into a smooth-run­ning tourist Juras­sic World at­trac­tion host­ing 20,000 dino-cu­ri­ous vis­i­tors daily. Among those 20,000 are broth­ers, 11-yearold en­thu­si­ast Gray (Ty Simkins) and bored-with-itall 16-year-old Zach (Nick Robin­son). Be­fore they leave, mother Karen (Judy Greer) gives them what turns out to be pre­scient ad­vice: “If some­thing chases you, run.”

Wait­ing for them is Karen’s sis­ter Claire (Howard). Though she is sup­posed to show the boys around, Claire, the park’s ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tions manager, has more on her agenda.

Be­cause fo­cus groups and at­ten­dance fig­ures in­di­cate “no one is im­pressed by a di­nosaur any­more,” Claire and the rest of man­age­ment are faced with pres­sure to grow the busi­ness. So Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong, the only ac­tor re­turn­ing from the orig­i­nal) has been set loose in the lab, and Claire has to find cor­po­rate fund­ing to spon­sor his new beast. (Think “Ver­i­zon Wire­less presents In­domi­nus rex.”)

Also fac­ing pres­sure is Owen Grady (“Guardians of the Galaxy” star Pratt), a world-class di­nosaur whis­perer who has man­aged to train those pesky ve­loci­rap­tors (played by per­form­ers in mo­tion-cap­ture suits). That has brought him to the at­ten­tion of the ne­far­i­ous Hoskins (Vin­cent D’Onofrio), who has de­signs on mil­i­ta­riz­ing the beasts and us­ing them to re­place boots on the ground. “Ex­tinct an­i­mals,” he rea­sons, “have no rights.” Just imag­ine.

It doesn’t take a lot of vi­sion to guess that three things will hap­pen in short or­der. First, im­pres­sive se­cu­rity notwith­stand­ing, the In­domi­nus, true to its name, will make a bold bid for free­dom. Sec­ond, Claire’s neph­ews will in­ad­ver­tently wan­der into his killing zone. Third, Claire and Owen, who’ve had one bad date and don’t par­tic­u­larly care for each other, will have to join forces if there is any chance of stop­ping In­domi­nus be­fore he ter­mi­nates ev­ery­thing in sight.

Though his TV back­ground in “Parks and Recre­ation” was more comedic, Pratt proved in “Guardians” that he could han­dle hunky lead­ing man roles, and his com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal­ity, charisma and at­ti­tude prove hard to re­sist one more time.

Costar Howard is solid as well, but she has a tougher chal­lenge be­cause Claire is a woman caught be­tween par­a­digms, hav­ing to be both the tra­di­tional stu­dio movie dam­sel in dis­tress trapped in high heels and to­day’s ca­pa­ble ac­tion hero­ine. Howard does as well as any­one could, but the strain is some­times vis­i­ble.

Not even break­ing a sweat, by con­trast, are the film’s more tra­di­tional dinosaurs, beasts like the enor­mous crocodile-like mosasaurus and the cute tricer­atops found in a pet­ting zoo. Mostly th­ese are com­puter cre­ations, but, as a trib­ute to the orig­i­nal film’s ef­fects wiz­ard, Stan Win­ston, a huge ap­atosaurus is cre­ated with an­i­ma­tron­ics tech­nol­ogy. The old ways die hard in “Juras­sic World” in more ways than one.

Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures


left, and Ty Simkins roam among the dinosaurs be­fore things start roar­ing in “Juras­sic World,” the lat­est film in the “Juras­sic Park” movie se­ries.

Jay L. Clen­denin Los An­ge­les Times

FILM­MAKER COLIN TREVOR­ROW was tapped by Steven Spiel­berg to di­rect “Juras­sic World.”

Chuck Zlotnick Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures

CHRIS PRATT, left, Ir­rfan Khan, Bryce Dal­las Howard and Jack John­son watch things go wrong.



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