By John Dolen
City & Shore Magazine
We know ahead of time that monstrous beasts are going to get loose and wreak havoc in Jurassic World. If you didn’t know it from all the previews, you certainly know it from previous Steven Spielberg dino-productions.
The only question is when and to whom and how bad it will get.
We enter this adventure through the eyes of two brothers: Gray, a middle-schooler, and Zach, a teenager who is at first more interested in the girls at Jurassic World than the pre-historic beasts. The pair and their parents could be plucked right out of the texting, Snap-Chatting folks of 2015. This is Jurassic Park for those not even born when it premiered 22 years ago.
Zach’s bored viewpoint tells us that this park has been around a while, and he has seen it all too many times to get excited. His smaller brother, though, is our eyes: He is full of wonder on his first visit.
The massive sprawling park with trams and stadiums and arenas, nested in dense tropical hills in Costa Rica, is a stunning film creation. On this day attendance hits over 20,000 people, ooh-ing and aww-ing in the various sub-parks of dinosaurs as if they were ostriches and rhinos and wildebeests. There are even petting zoo areas with the cuter, tamer species, and hills where students can experience digging up ancient bones. Most impressively is a giant stadium-sized aquarium, with seating for thousands descending below the water level. All the better to follow the giant amphibious dinosaur that has just lept out of the water to carry away a large dangling shark.
The spellbinding realism of the dinosaurs – four-legged, two-legged, winged (and I’ll leave the Latin appellations to the experts) – reels us in far more effectively than the human plot at this point.
But all things human pick up as the real action begins, when a trailer-living raptor trainer played by Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) is tapped in the developing emergency. He becomes, pretty much, Guardian of Jurassic World.
He cannot resist the entreaty of ex-date Claire, the pretty damsel, who in one desperate scene (in an obvious homage to Fay Wray in King Kong) lies helpless on the ground, squirming in a flimsy outfit as giant teeth prepare to chomp her.
Before all hell breaks loose, Claire is the prim and steely manager of the park, owned by an eccentric telecom mogul (Irrfan Khan). Played rather stiffly by Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of Ron Howard), Claire is also the aunt of the two boys. On the fateful day, she is supposed to be ushering them around because she hasn’t seen them in seven years. She’s too busy, so a noodle-headed surrogate is put in charge of them. They easily elude her, but soon find themselves in perilous waters. Later, besides trying to control the park mayhem, Claire must find the boys.
We won’t go into the cause of the eruption but suffice it to say that it is the result of a corporate scheme Claire and a house scientist concoct to attract new visitors.
The fabled magic of Hollywood – and no one does it better than Spielberg, who is Executive Producer here – subsumes what is perhaps scientifically suspect on paper to the gravitational pull of the heart and senses. Scene after scene of ever-heightening drama wholly captivates us. Yes, it’s the proverbial thrill ride – intense, PG-13 (not suitable for small children), and practically non-stop, except for brief quiet moments when the plight of thousands seems to cease and we see the two boys become closer brothers; and Owen and Claire become closer, period. You can see director Colin Trevorrow saying, “We have to pay attention to the human side.” Then it’s, “Ah hell, back to the beasts!”
And when it all ends, through all the fantastic cinematic wizardry, and the twists, turns and surprises, there is a standing ovation at our IMAX 3D preview audience in Miami (it also opens today at the AutoNation IMAX 3D Theater at the Museum of Discovery & Science in Fort Lauderdale, among others). The list of credits is the longest I’ve seen in decades of filmgoing. If nothing else (and there is a lot else), you have to wonder, “How did they do this?!”
Directed by Colin Trevorrow, starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent, D’Onofrio,
Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, BD Wong and Irrfan Khan, opens Friday (June 12). www.jurassicworld.com. Rated PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned – some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.