Entertainment

‘Jurassic World’: Scarier dinosaurs, braver heroes

Chris Pratt plays a believable hero in “Jurassic World.’
Chris Pratt plays a believable hero in “Jurassic World.’ Universal Pictures

What It’s About

A terrifying, super-sized “Jurassic World” reiterates the warning originated by author Michael Crichton: It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

By turning up the danger to 11 and intensifying the action, the fourth movie realistically portrays the chaos when hulking beasts run amok at a popular theme park.

For the past 10 years, the remote island Isla Nubar in Central America has been home to a high-tech Dinosaur Disneyland — showcasing cloned creatures that delight and amaze throngs of tourists. But the demand for bigger and better exhibits by the public becomes a corporate mandate, and the InGen scientists configure a monstrous creature, more terrifying than a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the park’s owner, learns quickly “Be careful what you wish for,” for safeguards fail, and the colossal killing machine rampages through the island.

Stopping the escalating death toll falls on the shoulders of no-nonsense executive Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and velociraptors trainer Owen (Chris Pratt), our rugged ex-Navy hero, with her two nephews Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) in tow. They not only must subdue the animals but also diminish widespread panic.

Performances

With roguish charm and enough toughness, Pratt (“The Guardians of the Galaxy”) adroitly helms another franchise — and earns the right to be considered as the next Indiana Jones (there’s talk). With an easygoing attitude reminiscent of Kurt Russell and rakish swagger a la Harrison Ford, Pratt is convincing and likable.

Howard, who has always seemed cold to me despite her pedigree (Ron Howard’s daughter), manages to run in high heels and softens her ice queen persona a tad, but merely services the role without connecting.

The boys, Nick Robinson (“The Kings of Summer”) and Ty Simpkins (“Iron Man 3”), are believable as the sulking teenager and wide-eyed youngster.

Character actors Vincent D’Onofrio (“Law and Order: Criminal Intent”) as duplicitous manager Hoskins, Irrfan Khan (“Life of Pi”) as the bottom-line CEO, Omar Sy (“The Intouchables”) as animal trainer Barry, and BD Wong (“Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”) as egotistical scientist Dr Henry Wu convey their standard good guy or bad guy roles well.

But it is captivating Jake Johnson (“New Girl”), who stands out, providing much needed comic relief as cynical Lowery in the control room.

What Works

The visual effects soar, and scary scenes involving escaped pterodactyls swooping and attacking is like Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” on steroids.

Director Colin Trevorrow, whose first feature was the clever “Safety Not Guaranteed,” impressively handles the demands of a sci-fi blockbuster, swiftly moving the action along, and effectively building tension. He slyly nods to Steven Spielberg’s inaugural “Jurassic Park” 22 summers ago, and provides clever flourishes (A “Pandora” store on view during creature mayhem — oh yes, they opened Pandora’s Box!).

As executive producer, Spielberg’s imprint is all over this film, including a set of parents on the brink of divorce.

When composer Michael Giacchino’s score swells, especially using John Williams’ iconic music, it adds grandeur to the adventure.

What Doesn’t Work

Four screenwriters are listed, including director Trevorrow and the story credits Amanda Silver and Derek Connolly (“Safety Not Guaranteed”), plus Rick Jaffa. This script by committee feels clunky at times, and there is some cringe-worthy dialogue.

But it is the spellbinding visuals, coupled with pulse-pounding action, that makes this a very entertaining ride, packed with both thrills and chills.

3 1/2 stars

out of 4

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Irrfan Khan, B.D. Wong, Omar Sy, Judy Greer

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of science fiction violence and peril

Length: 2:05

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