It's been 22 years since the first Jurassic Park film was released, and in-universe it's been 22 years since the original park opened with such tragic results. It's also been 10 years however since the new park, Jurassic World, successfully opened to the public and has operating ever since without (major) incident. Three story threads guide visitors around this new park; that of Zach (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) Mitchell, two kids visiting the park for the first time, the former bearing an uncanny resemblance to Goonies era Sean Astin; their aunt Claire (Dallas Howard), who's in charge of operating the park and is supposed to be chaperoning their tour but is working instead, and ex-Navy animal expert Owen (Pratt) who's been trying to train a pack of Velociraptors to follow simple commands.
As these characters weave around each other, the realities of the park come to light. The older brother Zack is bored by most of the attractions, more interested in the girls visiting the park. Gray keeps missing out the action due to the crowds and his lack of height. Pratt's four raptors aren't quite as domesticated as they may seem and in order to keep the public excited about the park and paying the entrance fee, the gene-splicers down at the lab have to come up with a new attraction every few years, with the emphasis for new dinos not on being more authentic, but to be more exciting, more terrifying and generally with more teeth. It's a strategy that has resulted in Indominus rex, a mishmash of dinosaur and other DNA, bred to be over 50 feet long and terrifying, but which may have some secrets hidden in amongst is genetic makeup. What isn't a secret is her intelligence and before long she escapes and starts heading towards the main body of the park, the tourists sections, neatly outsmarting her pursuers at almost every step of the way.
In their efforts to stop Rex and find her nephews, Claire and Owen have to deal with shady scientists taking dangerous shortcuts, InGen employees who wants to weaponise the raptors for military use and see's Rex's escape as the perfect trial run, interference from the well-meaning new owner of the park, Masrani (Khan) and the usual shenanigans where everyone in power ignores the suggestions of the one or two people who know exactly how to handle the situation, until a high enough body count has been reached.
DNA from the first film can be found throughout in respectful nods, with a ‘gyrosphere’ sequence nicely harking back to the T-rex attack in the first film, Mr DNA pops up for a moment along with a Dilophosaurus, and some characters even visit the ‘old’ park's abandoned visitor's centre with plenty of ephemera from the first film still there.
Pratt continues his run of bringing his likeable charm to the action genre (essentially playing Burt Macklin straight), and has some decent chemistry with Howard despite the numerous, groan-worthy double entendres she's forced to deliver. Despite her character's initially softer nature, Howard does get to handle one of the more badass action sequences that once again respectfully references the first instalment of the franchise while putting a new spin on it. D'Onofrio provides a more one-note comic style villain than he did in Daredevil, but works as the darker face of InGen, the company that own and operate the park.
The awe inspired by that first sight of dinosaurs 22 years ago, can never be cloned, and in fact some of the dinos here look slightly worse than their 20-year-old brethren, especially when it comes to the puppets used for close-ups on some of the herbivores. Thankfully, the raptors and Indominus rex fare much better, although after being teased for much of the opening half of the film, Indominus rex isn't quite as immediately visually arresting as the T-rex was in its first appearance, but the savagery of her attacks more than makes up for it.
Some slightly goofy scenes in the climax featuring shared ‘moments’ between a T-rex and a raptor, between Pratt and one of the dinos, and between Pratt and Howard, don't quite manage to mar a solid summer action film that drops plenty of loving references to the previous films, while going in a new direction and putting in place new elements for future sequels, just as the original did with that lost can of shaving foam. On top of all this, the kids aren't annoying!
Definitely worth the price of admission.
JURASSIC WORLD / CERT:12A / DIRECTOR: COLIN TREVORROW / SCREENPLAY: RICK JAFFA, AMANDA SILVER, COLIN TREVORROW, DEREK CONNOLLY / STARRING: CHRIS PRATT, BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD, IRRFAN KHAN, VINCENT D'ONOFRIO, TY SIMPKINS, NICK ROBINSON / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 11TH
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10