The park is open.
Twenty-two years after Steven Spielberg’s monster hit Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs are again on the rampage in series reboot Jurassic World.
Do they still have the capacity to wow us? Will our jaws still drop when a gentle long-necked Apatosaurus ambles into view; will we still flinch at the sight of a pack of vicious Velociraptors going in for the kill? Or have the last two decades of summer blockbusters left us jaded?
New director Colin Trevorrow, handpicked for the job by Spielberg himself, isn’t the only one worrying about a blasé public; that’s also the quandary facing the operators of the titular theme park up on screen.
The luxury resort where visitors can marvel at real prehistoric creatures in the flesh – the dream, of course, of Richard Attenborough’s billionaire showman Dr John Hammond in the original 1993 film – is, it appears, successfully up and running, but its corporate moguls need to come up with bigger, scarier beasts every year to keep visitors coming back.
To do so they’ve been cooking up genetically modified dinosaurs in the lab, but as we know all too well, human meddling with the natural order inevitably leads to disaster. And when the company’s new creation, the fearsome Indominus rex, escapes and runs amok, all hell duly breaks loose.
A rugged old-school hero.
The ensuing adventure has all the elements we have come to expect from a Spielberg blockbuster – a rugged old-school hero cut from the Indiana Jones mould in the shape of Chris Pratt’s military vet turned dinosaur wrangler Owen; some romantic sparks for the hero with the story’s heroine, Bryce Dallas Howard’s career woman Claire, the theme park’s tightly wound operations manager; and a pair of imperilled youngsters, Claire’s visiting nephews Zack (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), whose off-piste straying lands them in danger of becoming an amuse-bouche for the deadly new dinosaur.
There’s also a slimy corporate villain we’re all dying to see eaten, here Vincent D’Onofrio’s security contractor Hoskins, who is itching to exploit the military potential of the pack of Velociraptors dinosaur whisperer Owen has been training to obey his commands.
The fact that we’ve seen this sort of thing before doesn’t mean it’s not still fun. And Trevorrow, whose only previous film was the quirky low-budget sci-fi comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, delivers the requisite thrills and spills. The CGI does the job, too, without being especially amazing, and the effects-free rapport between Pratt and Howard offers other pleasures, as do the in-jokey nods to previous Spielberg films – not just the Jurassic Park ones; the Jaws reference will make you gulp.
Following his charismatic turn in last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt is shaping up as the go-to-guy when Hollywood needs someone equally handy with a quip, a firearm and a vintage motorcycle, all three of which he wields with aplomb here. And Howard pulls off her less instantly amenable character, too, which is probably an even more impressive feat given that she has to sprint away from a rapacious dinosaur in high heels.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 124 mins. Director Colin Trevorrow.