(US - 2015)
Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly. Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Judy Greer, Lauren Lapkus, Brian Tee, Andy Buckley, Katie McGrath. (PG-13, 124 mins)
JURASSIC WORLD, the long-in-gestation reboot/continuation of the JURASSIC PARK franchise, opts to ignore 1997's THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK and 2001's underappreciated JURASSIC PARK III and instead function as a direct sequel to Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic. Much has changed in the ensuing 22 years and JURASSIC WORLD exists in a CGI-driven cinematic environment. There's very sporadic animatronics used for a close-up here and there, but overall, the dinosaur effects are CGI creations, utilized sparingly by Spielberg (who has an executive producer credit here) in 1993 but relied upon heavily here by director Colin Trevorrow. With only one feature film to his credit, 2012's low-budget Aubrey Plaza rom-com SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, Trevorrow is an odd choice to helm a mega-budget summer tentpole, but honestly, any anonymous indie filmmaker or idealistic, wide-eyed kid fresh out of film school could've supervised the actors in JURASSIC WORLD. There's really nothing for Trevorrow to do but direct his actors and let the plethora of CGI and visual effects teams do the heavy lifting. There's no Spielbergian sense of wonder this time around--Trevorrow really just needs to make sure the camera's pointed in the right direction and the actors are looking exactly where the dino threats will be added during post. JURASSIC PARK was the JAWS of its day and by the time you get to the fourth film in the franchise, there's not much magic left to mine. That doesn't mean JURASSIC WORLD is another JAWS: THE REVENGE. It's big-budget summer junk food of the highest order: dumb, derivative, but undeniably entertaining since all Trevorrow really has to do is not screw it up. The film almost owes as much to James Cameron's ALIENS as it does to JURASSIC PARK, with one sequence directly harking back to when soldiers encountering the aliens are killed and their monitors start flatlining one-by-one back at the control station. Trevorrow does a nice job handling these scenes, but we've seen them before. There's some early digs at marketing tie-ins, commercialization, and that bored, "can't even" teens aren't even excited about seeing live dinosaurs anymore, but the satire is a gentle nibble rather than a bite, and it's quickly dropped to get on with the action. About the only "Trevorrowian" touch the director brings comes in the form of two minor characters in the control room: ironic hipster Lowery (Jake Johnson, who co-starred in SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED), who wears a vintage Jurassic Park tee he found on eBay, and his snarky quipping with co-worker Vivian, played by comedian Lauren Lapkus, who looks and acts like a somewhat less deadpan Aubrey Plaza.