“No one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore,” Bryce Dallas Howard’s character states early on in “Jurassic World.” “Now kids look at a Stegosaurus like it’s an elephant at the zoo… Consumers want them bigger, louder – more teeth.” It’s a remark that’s clearly directed at the audience. We’re the consumers, and this is what we demand. We’ve already seen the original film, Jurassic Park, countless times. Now studios better up the ante to earn our hard earned money. That means 3D, mindblowing special effects, and yes, ‘more teeth.’” While the filmmakers do in fact make good on that promise, it’s a disheartening commentary on the state of cinema when that – and that alone – is all they think they need to deliver to win us over.
“Jurassic World” acts as a direct sequel to “Jurassic Park.” It’s been about twenty years since the events of the first film, and now, the dinosaur theme park is a full-blown reality. However, good old-fashioned dinosaurs just aren’t the draw they used to be. Attendance has started to dip, and the executives are looking for a way to make dinos exciting again. The answer: genetically modified dinosaurs. And their latest creation, the Indominus Rex, is sure to get kids begging their parents to take them back to the park. But when the monstrous creature escapes from its confines to embark on a killing spree, operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howards) enlists Raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) to help her find and save her nephews — Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) — who are loose in the park.
“Jurassic World” is a fun time at the movies, no doubt. But it’s clear that all the filmmakers’ energy went into creating the monster to beat all monsters, rather than instilling some much-needed life into the script. The Indominus Rex has the ability to camouflage itself, change its body temperature to throw off thermal sensors, and is smart enough to rip out its tracking device and divert park employees. It’s an over-thetop, stupidly dangerous creation, one that made me long for the days when a dinosaur was scary enough in its own right, no hybrid superpowers necessary.
Chris Pratt, in full Indiana Jones mode, is an absolute charmer. He makes due with the shoddy script, and commands the picture as much as his dino screen mates. Bryce Dallas Howard, however, doesn’t fare nearly as well. Sporting a particularly severe haircut to match Claire’s frigid personality, her character is completely devoid of any warmth. Though her nephews are missing (and possibly dead), she seems far more concerned with verbally sparring/flirting with Owen, whom she has a romantic history with. It’s a dry, pointless subplot that has no business being in this movie.
But for every eye-roll worthy element, there’s another that can’t help but draw you in. Just hearing John Williams’ iconic score while being treated to a sweeping shot of Jurassic World is almost enough to give you chills. Fans will enjoy the moments that pay homage to Spielberg’s 1993 original, and there’s non-stop action and spectacle aplenty here. But even so, one thing is clear: this time around, ‘more teeth’ loosely translates to ‘less magic.’