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‘Jurassic World’ brings dino excitement back to life

In its opening weekend, “Jurassic World” earned a record-setting more than $500 million in the box office worldwide.

In 1993 Steven Spielberg unleashed “Jurassic Park,” the Hollywood masterpiece that changed public perception of dinosaurs and inspired a generation of children to become paleontologists in adulthood.

By the time “Jurassic Park III” released in 2001, steam behind the franchise waned and it seemed that Isla Nublar and its ferocious inhabitants would be forever locked in the vaults of film history. Dinosaurs, it would seem, just weren’t cool enough to hold the attention of the public.

Enter “Jurassic World,” an adventure back to Isla Nublar, set 22 years after the first Jurassic Park. Since its opening weekend, the film has grossed more than $514 million according to IMDb.

The adventure begins in a lab with two hatching eggs. An eerie reptilian eye glares from one at the camera, while a scaly arm bursts through and scratches at the sides. We are given a moment to reflect before the scene abruptly jumps to a field of snow. The film often relies on jump-cuts to establish tension and energy which works in some instances but distracts in others.

From this scene we are introduced to the film’s two younger protagonists – Gray and Zach Mitchell. The teenager Zach (Nick Robinson) is moody and aloof while his younger brother Gray (Ty Simpkins) is a walking encyclopedia on the park and of dinosaurs. They’re reminiscent of the two youngsters of the original film and both actors get the job done. The film only asks us to care about them when their lives are in jeopardy.

Many characters in the script could’ve been axed – the boy’s parents are forgettable. Some others seem to either be redshirts or to serve the purpose of moving the plot along and then disappear for the rest of the film.

The park has undergone radical transformations with an emphasis on safety and control. Using John Hammond’s motto of “spare no expense” the new owner of Jurassic Park – now Jurassic World – Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) serves to reassure the characters and audience that the park is indeed safe. Masrani’s unfortunate demise brings us back to the world of reality where no one is safe from the animals in the park.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard play the film’s two main protagonists – Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. Owen is a former Navy officer that trains velociraptors. Claire runs the logistical operations of the park while driving a Mercedes in several scenes. 

The movie’s antagonist, a genetically-modified dinosaur dubbed the Indominus Rex by its creators, has been created to lure tourists back to the island. For reasons not made entirely clear, the park isn’t doing as well as it could be and the Indominus is the ticket to getting people back in. People, it seemed, just didn’t think dinosaurs were cool anymore.

The Indominus we discover was not only raised in captivity, but in solitude. The Indominus killed her sister, the other egg from the beginning of the film. Owen comments on the mental state of such a creature saying that even his velociraptors were raised with others of its kind.

The story takes some time to get going but once the Indominus inevitably escapes, the pace doesn’t let up. The climax makes for some riveting fun and though it isn’t always plausible, the story resurrects old ideas presented by the original while injecting new life into the franchise. 

Rating: 4/5