JurassicWorldcoverGrade: B+/A-
Entire family: No
2015, 124 min., Color
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and peril
Aspect ratio: 2.00:1
Featured audio: English DTS-HDMA 7.1
Bonus features: B-
Amazon link

Jurassic World was built over the remains of Jurassic Park, and a jaded public’s appetite for bigger and more dangerous creatures has led a team of entrepreneurial scientists to not just replicate species from DNA but to create dinosaur hybrids. Bigger and more dangerous ones.

A lot of people have called Jurassic World the best thrill ride in the series, but I still think it takes a backseat to the 1993 film that started it all, which had more memorable characters, moral debates, and moments of sheer terror. There aren’t nearly as many iconic scenes in this third sequel to match the outhouse segment or the raptors in the kitchen. But there IS nonstop action and some pretty big and dramatic special effects.

Jurassic World features the best-looking CGI dinosaurs I’ve seen—and that incudes a gigantic fish-like mosasaur that’s even more impressive than the featured terrorizer: a hybrid killing machine named Indominus rex, created with the combined genetic makeup of a T-rex and velociraptors.

JurassicWorldscreen1The framework is similar to the first movie. A pair of siblings are sent to visit a relative at the park—in this case a workaholic aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard) who serves as the operations manager. Predictably, all hell breaks loose when Indominus rex escapes,

But in Jurassic World it’s not just a small group of visitors at an empty park that dinosaurs terrorize. The park is open and chock full of visitors, and at one point everyone is attacked by flocks of prehistoric flying reptiles in a scene that will have movie fans thinking back to Hitchcock’s The Birds. From that point, Jurassic World has the feel of a disaster movie.

Chris Pratt makes for a hunky Indiana Jones-style hero who’s a little scruffy and rides a motorcycle—just enough to qualify as a “bad boy” for female JurassicWorldscreen2audience members. He’s more animal trainer than scientist in this fourth installment, which features some pretty cool scenes of him putting a pack of Velociraptors through their paces. In a nod to the original film, B.D. Wong turns up again as the chief geneticist, and a couple of Jimmies appear in brief cameos: Fallon and Buffett. But perhaps the biggest surprise of the movie is director Colin Tervorrow, whose previous credits only included an Australian romantic comedy, a reality show documentary, and a TV movie. His vision clearly matched what Universal had in mind.

If Jurassic Park merits an A, then Jurassic World gets an A-. If you’d give the first film an A-, then this one is a B+. It’s not off by much and it certainly beats The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2 and Jurassic Park 3 by a long shot. It’s no surprise that Pratt, who’s already in pre-production with a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, is signed on to appear in another Jurassic World film that’s slated for 2018 release. They’re calling it a sequel to Jurassic World, which means they’re thinking of this movie as a reboot. And as such, it’s pretty darned successful.

Language: Less than a dozen minor expletives
Sex: n/a
Violence: This is probably the most violent of the series, and yet because we can see it coming it’s not as terrifying as the first film
Adult situations: Brief drinking, a brief kiss, but that’s about it
Takeaway: Hollywood is sequel crazy, but when a sequel’s this good, it’s crazy