With studios afraid of anything new or original, it's not surprising that the dinosaurs are back on-screen nearly 15 years after the rather disappointing Jurassic Park III. The good news is that this film has a clever script and solid characters to go along with the first-rate digital work. So even if the effects kind of take over the movie in the final act, it's still a great ride.
The massive island resort Jurassic World has been running safely for a decade off the Costa Rica coast, so it needs ever-scarier attractions to bring in visitors. The owner Masrani (Irrfan Khan) has been instructing his top scientist (BD Wong) to genetically engineer a bigger, scarier species, and he's come up with a beast called Indominus rex. Park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) has her doubts, but her velociraptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) is downright furious when he finds out. Sure enough, just as Claire's nephews (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) arrive for a visit, the I-rex escapes and threatens the 20,000 visitors on the island.
The screenplay sets everything up in fine disaster movie style, with quickly explained back-stories to add some emotional undercurrents to the big-scale chaos. There's also, of course, a requisite villain in the form of the meathead Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), who thinks dinosaurs could be used by the military and welcomes this catastrophe as a chance to prove his point. Thankfully, the cast dives in with gusto, adding hilarious personality touches to every scene. Pratt is terrific as the swashbuckling action-man, nicely set against the feisty Howard, who trumps him by doing all her action scenes in heels. Simpkins and Robinson have a lively adventure all their own that adds to the film's overall appeal. And there are superb side roles for the talented likes of Omar Sy, Judy Greer and Jake Johnson that add both humour and emotion.
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