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Despite what the trailers suggest, the story follows Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), managing director of Jurassic World. In the 20 years since the events of Jurassic Park, Hammond's dream has been realized in the form of a fully-operational theme park. Guests board cruise ships on the mainland that take them to Isla Nublar, where an upscale Hilton and swanky restuarants surround a SeaWorld-style exhibition pool, with a museum at the other end of the road. Monorails line the island, and people can travel on foot, in Jeeps, or in snow globe-like observation balls to take a look at dinosaurs up close. Claire has agreed to look after her nephews Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) for her sister Karen (Judy Greer) while they're visiting the park on their own, but sends an assistant instead, who they ditch after twenty minutes. Claire is more focused on the park's upcoming attraction: a hybrid dinosaur called the Indominus Rex ("Part T-Rex...and the rest is classified"). Unfortunately, the dinosaur lays a trap that allows it to escape, and Claire finds herself teaming up with raptor trainer and former soldier Owen (Chris Pratt) to try and find Gray and Zach.
Flaws first: There was a legal battle over the screenwriting credits of Jurassic World that ended with two sets of writers credited, Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, and director Colin Trevorrow and his Safety Not Guaranteed screenwriter Derek Connolly. Although I know nothing about the Jaffa and Silver draft, it'd be hard to deny that Jurassic World contains a handful of plot threads that are introduced and then fall to the wayside, a common side effect of blending one script with another (like, say, dino DNA with frog DNA). Among them: the possibility that Gray and Zach's parents are about to divorce, and Claire's insistence that she doesn't want kids of her own. It's a shame that the former wasn't rewritten to be about the brothers no longer bonding, as that's a story that actually resolves itself comfortably in the film through Simpkins and Robinson's chemistry. The latter has the ring of (to borrow from Joss Whedon) '70s-era sexism to it, but the fact that Claire never actually recants her stance sort of lets the film off the hook. Trimming that thread entirely could've been done by cutting just two lines.
That said, there are so many fun things going on in Jurassic World that most audiences won't even notice a couple of dangling threads. I'm not a fan of the school of thought that says people should "turn their brain off" during a summer blockbuster, but Trevorrow delivers so much entertaining spectacle that the movie essentially does the job itself, sweeping the viewer up in an action adventure that successfully navigates the built-in predictability of "something goes wrong at Jurassic Park." Vincent D'Onofrio is a blast hamming it up as the film's villain, Hoskins, a paunchy guy who walks the walk and packs a bowie knife on his belt, spouting a bunch of big talk about the mentality of raptors, but clearly doesn't have the discipline that Owen does with the creatures -- he can hardly touch them, even when they're caged and muzzled, without twitching in fear. Later, when the Indominus Rex starts terrorizing the park, you can practically hear him salivating at the thought of getting to play with all his InGen-supplied toys. The story thread, about waeponizing dinos, is familiar stuff, but D'Onofrio's arrogant glee brings it to life. The film also boasts Safety's Jake M. Johnson in a funny role as a geeky tech who loves the idea of working with dinosaurs more than the idea of working at Disneyworld, Irrfan Khan as the eccentric billionaire funding the new park, and B.D. Wong, reprising his role from the first film as the head lab tech, now sporting a sharp but somewhat sinister turtleneck. Each only has a small chunk of time in the film's stuffed narrative, but all offer a burst of unique character charisma when they're on screen.
There has been plenty of talk that Jurassic World is a comment on itself, and it is, touching on the idea that regular dinosaurs aren't enough to bring in crowds and addressing real-world questions, such as why the dinosaurs don't look like birds. Yet, what's pleasing about the movie is that Trevorrow isn't focused on being a comment on blockbusters or itself, just on thrilling the audience. There may not be a sequence that captures the same intensity of the first T-Rex attack in Jurassic Park, but there are plenty of spectacular smaller sequences, including pterodactyls swooping onto the crowds to grab visitors (and then promptly drop them), the big trailer moment of Owen riding into battle with the raptors (which has a surprising payoff), and an extended action climax that's too much fun to reveal even a single detail. Some will complain that Jurassic World isn't a more insightful or thoughtful movie, and complaints directed at some of its character beats are valid, not to mention its lumbering exposition. At its best, though, the film captures the capital-letter Thrills! of the original Jurassic Park -- a pure, preserved strain of blockbuster movie spectacle.
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