Over 20 years after dinosaurs first graced the big screen in front of millions, the captivating reptiles are back and bigger than ever in Colin Trevorrow’s “Jurassic World.” This highly anticipated film takes place on an extravagant stage: a dinosaur amusement park on a futuristic Costa Rican island. Here, a toddler can ride a baby triceratops like a pony and feed a gentle brachiosaurus from her hand.
Another popular attraction? Watching hunky dinosaur whisperer Owen (played by Chris Pratt) go nose to nose with ferocious velociraptors. And the splash show features a 15-ton mosasaurus, complete with two extra rows of teeth, gulping up a Great White Shark whole. But these attractions take a back seat to the ginormous Indominous rex, a monster that makes all other dinosaurs run to their mothers (or, in most cases, just get eaten).
This lab-created giant gets a visit from Jurassic World’s operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), a redheaded workaholic whose nephews happen to be guests in the park. After all, what would a Jurassic movie be without smart, resourceful children? The owner of the amusement park has asked Claire to get Owen’s opinion on the safety of Indominous’s enclosure, and there’s obvious chemistry (and awkwardness) between the two.
This is when the movie starts to break down. Everything that happens after this is entirely predictable. The Indominous rex, surprise surprise, is not what the humans had expected. Not exactly shocking, considering the dinosaur was created in a test tube, a secret mixture of other man-eaters and random animals that no one will reveal to Owen, even when they’re all about to get devoured.
So, the dino escapes, wrecking havoc, freely eating both people and beasts. And, as expected, there are about 10,000 close calls with the jaws of the Indominous just inches from Owen as he hides under or behind various vehicles.
As expected, the children get lost alone in the park and perform impossible feats to stay alive. As expected, Claire finally leaves the hard shell of her work life and becomes an actual human in an omg-the-dinosaurs-are-actually-living-things-not-just-assets type of way. She gets down and dirty, shooting freed pterosaurs, driving away from raptor pursuers, and running from a raging Tyrannosaurus rex, all the while rocking some work-appropriate nude pumps. She also manages to squeeze in a kiss with Owen while both of their lives are in peril. And, possibly the most expected of all, Claire’s hair and makeup only improve as she crawls through more dirt, hides from more dinosaurs, and cries more tears.
In the end, Indominous gets defeated, obviously. Sadly, none of the changes in Claire are acknowledged, even her biggest one: stepping away from her work to spend time with family. Her sister never even says, “Hey, thanks for making sure my kids weren’t eaten.”
While this movie pays considerable homage to the first “Jurassic Park,” it does not contain any moments of magic cinema like when we first saw the brachiosaurus stand up on its hind legs 22 years ago. Although many will appreciate the nostalgia, that tingling feeling of wondrous awe just isn’t there.
So, all in all, “Jurassic World” hit a sour note for me. Entertaining, sure, but besides the interesting setting, nothing about this movie is unique. The fourth installment of this beloved dinosaur franchise may have made a big roar, but, unlike the mosasaurus, it just didn’t have enough teeth.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.