Anticipation has been keen for Jurassic World, especially for those with memories of previous versions, and I expect this one will not disappoint them. Special effects are stunningly real enough to elicit gasps and screams from the audience, and the main dinosaurs somehow have enough personality to give you the impression you’re acquainted with them.
I think the weakest aspects of the film are in the dialog and the characters portrayed. It’s never been clear to me why millions of dollars are spent on special effects in films and so little attention paid to dialog and character development. Most of the characters in Jurassic World are obnoxious: self-serving know-it-alls who ignore experts (lots of these), a hoity-toity director of the park who also won’t listen and weigh advice given to her, a rat of an older brother, and a younger brother who is mostly appealing except when his ADHD propels him through the park at breakneck speed.
The dialog could have been made much more interesting if there had been a genuine philosophical argument about using animals like drones in warfare. All we get here is one man wanting to do it, and the animal trainer giving reasons why not to, but it’s only a brief argument in passing.
We meet the two boys, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), as they are saying goodbye to their parents and getting on a plane to spend a week with their Aunt Claire (Howard) at her dinosaur theme park. Of course, she is a very busy woman and not exactly kid-friendly, so pawns them off to her assistant for the day. (The assistant is not kid-friendly either, so we get an inkling of how the day is going to go.)
Claire has her hands full trying to balance the demands of the owner of the park (Khan), shareholders, and staff; in particular, the animal trainer Owen (Pratt). This would make her sympathetic, but she is all business, figures, and academic terminology, let alone mile-high control needs. Owen is about the only sympathetic, admirable character among all of them, but most turn deaf ears to his recommendations. He has developed the ability to bond with four young raptors with astounding results, and of course, there are those just waiting in the wings to exploit them.
To add to the intrigue, there is a lab on site that has been experimenting with a cocktail of genetic traits to develop a super dinosaur, which is being held in captivity. The business people know/“think?” they need to bring out a new thrill at the park every few years to keep the public interested. This creature will be their ace in the hole very soon. But if only they realized how much they have been playing with fire, naively mixing genes and keeping an animal in captivity without socialization or training.
Pratt is a fine hero who is a knowledgeable Johnny-on-the-spot in times of crisis, although I think the character needs a little more forceful strength than Pratt conveys. Howard is a good actress, but her role as written (a bundle of female stereotypes) is unbelievable, the epitome of which is her running in high heels all over acres of jungle-like parkland. Both Khan and D’Onofrio do well in their roles as misguided leaders with a little power.
I loved Colin Trevorrow’s work as director of Safety not Guaranteed, and his direction is spot on here—although the script, to which he contributed does not measure up to his work as director. A very strong asset of Jurassic World is the music by Michael Giacchino, soaring at times, dissonant at others, and lyrical during tender moments—although I must say Christmas music in the beginning was a bit too much to take.
If you like to be thrilled and terrified by dinosaurs…