C’mon, say it with me. The biggest blockbuster of the summer. It was expected to be big. But not this huge. “Jurassic World” is rampaging its way towards 2 billion dollars worldwide huge. And even that may be conservative. The resurrection of a 14 years dormant franchise, has been gloriously revived from amber. Even better…it’s pretty good. Maybe not “Jurassic Park” good, but it references that original film endlessly, and uses some of its familiar and comfortable tropes and devices. And hey, “Jurassic World” provides us with the very first onscreen look at the promise of “Jurassic Park”–finally realized. In “JW”, the park is actually open for business. So, as Dr. Ellie Sattler would scream, “Ruunnn”!
Teenage Zach Mitchell (Nick Robinson), and grade-school age brother, Gray (Ty Simpkins, somewhere under all that hair), are sent by their on-the-verge-of-divorce parents (Andy Buckley, and Judy “deserves-more-screen-time” Greer) to an island to visit their little-seen Aunt Claire (I’m really trying to “dig” Ronnie’s girl, Bryce Dallas Howard…I’m getting there.). Claire is their Mom’s workaholic sister, who also happens to be the operations manager of the now fully functional Jurassic World, the mega-popular dinosaur theme park, opening two decades after the original Jurassic Park disaster. Almost as soon as you can say Indominus rex, things start to go awry. And it may take Velociraptor trainer, Owen Grady (now bona-fide international movie star, Chris “Guardians of the Galaxy” Pratt), to save the day, as well as Claire’s wayward nephews. In other words, as Dr. Ian Malcolm would state, “Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts, then later there’s running and um, screaming.”
For all its flaws, and “Jurassic World” sports a few, it’s tough for me to imagine a more successful reboot. Yeah…it’s big, dumb and loud. But it’s also hella-fun, and it feels like an event…just like “Jurassic Park” before it, 22 years ago. Colin Trevorrow, who directed and contributed to the screenplay, is no Steven Spielberg…but who is? Still, Colin gets all of the BIG stuff mostly right, and he never seems overwhelmed by the scope of this gigantic enterprise. John Williams familiar score is recycled to brilliant effect, and our old friends Velociraptor and T-rex, partner with our new companions, Indominus rex and Mosasaurus. There are some genuinely nasty killings, that still manage to remain in that PG-13 boundary. The forced Claire-Owen romance angle? Yeah, it kind of fails. But they also gave us that gooey stuff in each of Spielberg’s tandem, and I believe I recall that divorce subplot being an element in 2001’s “Jurassic Park III”. Those devices die-hard. But “Jurassic World” is smashing entertainment, and it’s superb in IMAX 3D. My 10-year-old responded to the many jump scares, and I grabbed the arms of my seat more than once. And those mobile “hamster balls” are mega-cool. “Jurassic World” will never be mistaken for great film making. But it is great blockbuster making. 2 billion, 3 billion…how high will the box office go? Who cares…it’s worth every penny.