"Jurassic World" is a review-proof movie. No matter what any review says, the movie will make money.
So, it's a relief to say that the film is actually pretty good. A worthy companion to the original classic.
The two most notable things about "World" are the director and lead. Colin Treverrow, a San Francisco native, directed his first feature film "Safety Not Guaranteed" for $750,000. Someone, somewhere apparently liked that film. Liked it a lot. Because his follow-up is "World", with a reported budget of $150,000,000. I haven't seen "Safety Not Guaranteed", many haven't, but how does someone make a jump like this? It is virtually unheard of. What is even more miraculous is that Treverrow handles the leadership of this monumental colossus well and gives it the respect it deserves while injecting some fresh and exciting bits. It is a good mix which is making the film appeal to even more people than expected.
Treverrow clearly knows how to handle the conventions of a monster epic. He does a really smart thing, replicating the reveal of the T-Rex in the original "Jurassic Park". In "World", the brain- trust running the park creates it's own dinosaur, the Indominous Rex, a meaner, badder, bigger relative of the T-Rex. As in the original, it takes a while for us to get our first glimpse of the beast. We get fleeting glances at specific areas, giving us a preview of the size and ferocity of the beast, making us anticipate and leaving us wanting more.
And it also seems like a stroke of genius to cast current It-Boy Chris Pratt as the lead. Pratt plays Owen, a large animal handler who has been working with the raptors on the island for so long they recognize him as the Alpha Male and follow his lead and command.
As Owen, he captures our attention almost as quickly as he commands the raptors. An anti-hero, Owen jumps into action when things start to go haywire.
Pratt is extremely amiable but not gorgeous in a Brad Pitt or George Clooney way - he looks like an ordinary good-looking guy. This, combined with his natural magnetism and good nature make him someone everyone can identify with. So far, he has also been cast as the smart-alecky anti-hero, someone who isn't necessarily ready to save the world, but will answer the hero's call to action.
Pratt is a good actor and helps to make each of his big-screen personas amusing and slightly off-center. In "Guardians of the Galaxy", his insistence at being called "Star-Lord" created some funny exchanges and showed how the hero was more than a little full of himself. In "Jurassic World", Owen is less sarcastic, but he does manage to utter a few terse words, causing laughter.
Given Pratt's background in television comedy, it's not really a surprise that he can add levity to the roles he is playing. What is a surprise is that he is quickly becoming the Action Hero, cast in just about every high profile movie project. There are rumors that he will be "Indiana Jones" in a reboot. This would be a logical next step for the burgeoning A-lister. Pratt has the type of persona that makes him watchable - this, and all of the other attributes discussed seem to make him destined to become the next mega star.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire, the workaholic who lives, breathes and eats her job as the administrator of the park. She is equally comfortable trying to get a corporate backer for a new exhibit as she is talking to the technicians behind the scenes. But when her nephews Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) show up, she enlists her assistant Zara (Katie McGrath, the British TV show "Merlin") to watch after them.
Howard has been around for a while and it seems like she has never caught on with the pubic at large. At the start of her career, she was in a number of high-profile projects, none of which made her a star, then she disappeared for a while. Now, she is back in "World". But does she add anything to the role? Not really. Her portrayal of Claire is easily eclipsed by Pratt and they never really build any of the required chemistry. Pratt tries hard, Owen flirts with Claire from the beginning, but it almost seems like Howard's Claire is completely unaware of this attention and they are never able to create the necessary romantic tension.
The best part of Howard's character? She runs in high heel shoes throughout the film. It's pretty much a requirement of this genre to have a woman running in high- heels. And it fits that her character, the upwardly mobile business-woman would feel it necessary to wear such shoes in a humid island environment, to show her dedication to the job.
The rest of the cast is filled with recognizable character actors, all of whom do a good job in their limited, serviceable roles. Irrfan Khan ("Slumdog Millionaire", "The Life of Pi") plays Masrani, the new owner of the company that owns the new, larger Jurassic World. He is dedicated to upholding the legacy of John Hammond but also a bit too full of himself. Jake Johnson (TV's "New Girl"), Omar Sy ("The Intouchables") and Lauren Lapkus ("Orange Is The New Black") are various members of the staff. BD Wong returns as Dr. Henry Wu, the geneticist behind the dinosaurs. And Vincent D'Onofrio (TV's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent", "Full Metal Jacket", "The Judge") plays an obsessed black-ops type determined to use technology from the island for shady government purposes.
There are a lot of nice touches to "World", that help to make it work on a larger, bigger scale. Much like the Disney and Universal counterparts, Jurassic World has a huge complex of shops, restaurants and hotels greeting visitors as soon as they arrive. Every mall has a Ben & Jerry's, a Starbucks, a Sunglass Hut and this park is no exception. Every movie has product placements. "World" is no exception. So, this is a creative way of building in this obligatory bit of business. It's also fun to watch these places actually play into the action.
Trevorrow has some fun creating scenes throughout that pay homage to some of the classic moments from the original. While they are similar, and it is easy to spot them when they happen, they are distinct enough to be new and create some suspense. There is also a bit that revisits the original film in a very overt way, providing a very real link to the classic.
There are a number of reasons "Jurassic World" is such a huge success. First and foremost? Pratt and his undeniable charisma and likability. Trevorrow seems to have a lot of fun playing with all of the different toys in this tool box. And he has some fun creating new dinosaurs and new suspense. All of this helps to create a fun, exhilarating experience.