‘Jurassic World’ Is Same Old Same Old

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LOGOThe summer still is in its infancy, but the box-office champion already may have been established because “Jurassic World” broke the records for the biggest opening in North America and for the highest-grossing worldwide opening. If there weren’t impressive enough, it also is the first film to gross $500 million in its opening weekend. At this writing, the movie had grossed $398.2 million nationally and $713.2 million around the world.

It has been 22 years since those dinosaurs rumbled onto the silver screen in “Jurassic Park,” followed by “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” in 1997 and “Jurassic Park III” in 2001. Now we have “Jurassic World,” the king of them all as far as technology is concerned, and it’s fortunate the creatures are so spectacular because the storyline is beyond hackneyed in its lack of originality.

As the film begins, 16-year-old Zach Mitchell (Nick Robinson) and his 11-year-old brother, Gray (Ty Simpkins), bid their parents farewell and board a plane destined for Isla Nublar located just off the coast of Costa Rica, where the sparkling new dinosaur theme park of Jurassic World awaits them. Anticipating their arrival (not too eagerly) is their Aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is the director of operations at Jurassic World.

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Unfortunately when Zach and Gray arrive at their destination, Aunt Claire is too busy to meet them, and so she asks her personal assistant, Zara Young (Katie McGrath) to take care of them and be their guide until she can break free. But boys will be boys, and Zach and Gray decide to give Zara the slip so they can roam freely throughout the park.

In addition to a petting zoo where children can ride little Triceratops, a giant aquatic Mosasaurus that comes roaring out of the depths of water to snatch a great white shark dangling over a pool, and countless dinosaurs roaming around, the newest and biggest attraction at the park is the monstrous Indominus rex.

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Geneticists manufactured this ginormous creature from the combined DNA of various predatory dinosaurs and such modern animals as cuttlefish and tree frogs. Because the Indominus is so dangerous, it has its own special enclosure, and to ensure the guests’ safety, park owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Kahn) tells Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), the Velociraptor trainer, to inspect it. Joining Owen for the inspection is Aunt Claire, and it doesn’t take us long to find out that they have been on a date that didn’t go well. Romance alert!

Now while all this is going on, Zach and Gray are having a blast running around the park unattended while poor Zara frantically searches for them. From this point on the film develops (sorry) into the basic monster-gets-loose-and-runs-amok-while-a-man-and-a-woman-are-trying-to-figure-out-how-to-stop-it-ala-King-Kong-Godzilla-Mothra-Mighty-Joe-Young story.

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I have no doubt that “Jurassic World” will be the box office champion of the summer because it’s the kind of film youngsters will love. It centers around two young boys with whom they will be able to identify, and it’s filled with enough dinosaurs to satisfy any fan of the prehistoric behemoths.

Although I considered the film just another monster story, director Colin Trevorrow has pointed out that it has a much deeper meaning.

He said the Indominous is, “…meant to embody [humanity’s] worst tendencies. We’re surrounded by wonder and yet we want more, and we want it bigger, faster, louder, better. And in the world of the movie, the animal is designed based on a series of corporate focus groups. There’s something in the film about our greed and our desire for profit. The Indominus Rex, to me, is very much that desire, that need to be satisfied.”

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I seriously doubt that many people who view the film will grasp the symbolism, but then who am I to argue with the director’s interpretation? Give me “Moby Dick” any day!

Now if you’re looking for something original or any surprises in this movie, forget it. We know from the beginning that the two boys are going to end up being threatened by Indominous and that Aunt Claire and Owen are going to be tromping through the jungle frantically trying to find them. You also don’t need to be a Stephen Hocking to predict that the threat of danger will be the spark to ignite passion between Owen and Aunt Claire. In the film’s production notes, Howard spoke about the romantic aspect of it.

“One of the many great things about this story is that, in the context of the chaos that has broken out in the park, they realize that they need each other and go on this journey to save her nephews, save the park, and ultimately themselves. The romantic undercurrent feels very unique for a Jurassic film, and I appreciated that.”

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Both Howard and Pratt turn in satisfactory performances for a film like this, and they succeed in making the relationship between their respective characters believable, but Howard’s role demanded she do something that almost defies description. During their hunt for the boys, Owen and Aunt Claire do a lot of running through the jungle, and she must have run 10 miles in spiked heels. Howard spoke about this feat in the production notes.

“I’ll never forget the first day of shooting in the jungle as I stood there looking at the terrain, which was covered in mud, vines, and stones. I looked down at my high heels, and all I could do was pray. But now, it’s something I can add to the special skills listed on my resume: running in the jungle in heels.”

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Despite the necessary presence of human beings, the real stars of this film are the dinosaurs and the technology that created them. From the smallest to the largest, all of the creatures look astoundingly realistic. Thus they should please all those fans of the “Jurassic Park” films, and the box office reports certainly confirm this.

While I certainly appreciate and admire the incredible technology on display in the movie, the storyline offers nothing new or original. Therefore, “Jurassic World” receives the final score of a very generous six. Although the film’s ending definitely leaves the door open for still another installment in the series, if one does indeed come to fruition, count me out. If you’ve seen one dinosaur, you’ve seen them all.

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