*** (out of five)
Jurassic World is as meticulously crafted as the strange, clean, efficient theme park that is the real central character of the movie. This script knows how to hit a story beat, how to let a cliffhanger of a line lead directly to the next scene, with appropriately cued, swelling music. It knows that a large part of its audience will be kids, so it charms you before it scares you – it gets you in the mood. In other words, it takes Steven Spielberg’s directing style and births itself from its DNA, which is also the plot of the movie, if you substitute dinosaurs for Steven Spielberg.
It’s good. It’s been engineered to be good. There are no random occurrences in this film, no improvised asides or accidental moments captured by a sharp camera operator. This is filmmaking as structural beast, as corporate entity, and it’s a precise and perfectly massaged version of the form. Its as Hollywood as it comes, when Hollywood’s having a good day.
Bryce Dallas Howard provides the most human appeal, even as she plays the ostensible villain of the piece, a corporate wonk desperate to keep Jurassic World – a dinosaur theme park that is essentially a new version of Jurassic Park – in the black. She and her team of scientists (always a team of scientists!) are splicing genes to create bigger creature attractions, and, well, that’s not going to end well, is it? (Naturally, she has a chance for redemption. Naturally, she takes it).
Technology has come a long way since the first film, and seeing the dinosaurs simply doesn’t have the same wow factor that it did in 1993. And Chris Pratt, as a dino trainer now having to deal with a very big problem, just doesn’t have the juicy appeal of Sam Neil. But this is a clean machine, and, really, you’ll get your money’s worth. They spent one hundred million more times what your cinema ticket costs. You may as well help them out. You’ll be entertained, and that’s the transaction here – it’s all that’s going on.