Jurassic World – 3 stars

Very much in the vein of Godzilla, Jurassic World is gripping and exciting, so much so that you almost look past its flaws.

Almost.

The script is cobbled-together from the Spielberg factory. Kids scarred by impending divorce bond (two such kids, like in the first movie); an aunt without parenting instincts (Bryce Dallas Howard) finds those instincts (ala’ Sam Neill, in the first flick); a bad guy (Vincent D’Onofrio) wants to use velociraptors for, you guessed it, military purposes (like Wayne Brady, in the first one, D’Onofrio gets what is coming to him); there are dime store discussions about the ethics of all of this (which are much less impressive coming from the likes of B.D Wong and Chris Pratt, as opposed to Sir Richard Attenborough and Jeff Goldblum); and our heroes live because the dinosaurs fight amongst themselves (like the first one) but this time, overcome our abuse of them by taking up for us (gag).

Speaking of Pratt, he’s in a bit of bind here. Pratt’s wheelhouse is a certain goofy but childishly masculine charm, best represented in Guardians of the Galaxy and Moneyball (as the confused, boyish catcher-turned-first-baseman). Here, when Pratt flashes that charm – mainly in banter with Dallas Howard – he’s fun to watch. But Pratt also tries to play it straight, and he simply lacks the gravitas to do so at this point in his career. A fair comparator would be Bruce Willis, who went from the light comedy of “Moonlighting” to the sarcastic aside of John McClane in the Die Hard flicks to a plausible straight hero. But Willis started late and had the rough look of an older man, coupled with a menace he could draw upon. Pratt ain’t there yet, and at times in the flick, you expect a punch-line that never comes.

There’s also a fair amount of lazy plotting.  It’s never adequately explained why certain features of the new, terrifying animal – Indominus Rex – were allowed to manifest themselves in the creature (such as its ability to think like George Patton), yet the whiz kids couldn’t put a kill switch in it.  Moreover, the response of the park staff itself is less professional than what you might get on a windy day at Busch Gardens, and if Busch Gardens keeps you on a metal track for the Old Time Antique Car Ride, there is no way a park would allow its patrons to self-navigate dinosaurs in one of these:

Still, this is an easy and fun movie which, at last count, has made enough dough to bail out Greece.  I fear such power and the result is a cop out 3 stars.

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