Since Spielberg's groundbreaking 1993 classic, there have been many effects laden, creature features in the intervening years - King Kong, two Godzilla movies, as well as the two other Jurassic instalments to name a few - and they've gotten bigger, if not necessarily better. The question is if there is any appetite left for more dino action or has T-Rex and co lost their lustre? The latter also forms the basis of the main plot-line of Jurassic World as, due to stagnating audience figures at the now established theme park (people have now become blasé to the everyday garden dinosaurs), corporate pressure leads to the creation of a brand new, genetically spliced dinosaur to reel the crowds in. However, the fancily brand named Indominus Rex inevitably has other ideas, and with very different plans for crowd participation.
Fourteen years since Jurassic Park III, with well documented issues in the script department, Jurassic World does tend to fall into the sequel trap of "bigger, louder, with a higher body count" but relatively newbie director Colin Trevorrow - whose debut full length feature was the highly rated 2012 indie Safety Not Guaranteed - performs an admirable job of steering the ship (perhaps with a little guidance by the maestro himself) even if he does hit some rocky patches along the way. For the record, I thought it was a serviceable plot-line that ties in well with latter day issues, such as the conflict of interest relating to ethical treatment of the dinosaurs versus profit and stakeholder concerns of big corporations. I guess it's not too dissimilar to the subtext of the original Jurassic Park, but updated a little for the 21st Century.
There are several subplots including the aforementioned corporate intervention, the military weaponisation of velociraptors (an initiative headed by a gleefully obnoxious Vincent D'Onofrio) and also the Spielbergian theme of fractured families. But of course the main reason we go to see these films is for the dino-centric set pieces, and Jurassic World mostly delivers on this front - especially the terrifying/exhilarating Indominus Rex escape, and the gyrosphere attack that is reminiscent of the famous first T-Rex encounter in Jurassic Park. Where Trevorrow falters slightly is that these scenes lack the same level of suspense and tension that Spielberg was able to muster in every set piece from the original, e.g. the electric fence and raptor sequences as well as the aforementioned T-Rex rampage. But hey, it's an unenviable task when you have a film as perfect as that - something that Spielberg even failed to live up to in his own Lost World sequel. I do have a slight issue in that the relative lack of suspense seems to have been compensated with ramping up the bloodletting and maliciousness of the I-Rex. There are certain scenes which are definitely too extreme for younger children (much more so than in the other films), and will only serve to either give them nightmares or desensitise them to screen violence from an early age.
I say Jurassic World "mostly" delivers as other action scenes felt all over the place, such as the Pterandon attack, save for the one moment which is simultaneously horrific and mean spirited, but also blackly humorous. However, i much prefer the Pterodactyl encounter in Jurassic Park III. Some felt like semi regurgitations (or maybe it's paying homage?) of classic moments from the original film. Where the dinosaurs are concerned, the sense of wonder has somewhat diminished but the effects are still nonetheless impressive - nothing less to be expected from a multi million dollar film - especially the cunning Indominus Rex, and the Velociraptors look more realistic than before.
Chris Pratt gives an earnest performance as ex. Navy man and dinosaur trainer Owen Grady. Since his career accelerated to the upper echelons of the A-list after the success of a certain Marvel movie, his Star Lord left an indelible impression on many moviegoers, therefore it was a wise move not to reprise the same goofball persona lest he be in danger of the perils of typecasting. Instead Pratt plays it relatively straight, with just enough rugged charm to invite valid suggestions that he may be the next guy to adorn that famous fedora. It seems like Bryce Dallas Howard has been quiet in the last few years, but she's back with a bang as career woman Claire. Her character is not exactly original - a woman who has put career before family only discovering her hitherto buried maternal instincts when it becomes a question of life and death - but Howard plays Claire with just the right mix of straight-laced power suited femininity and determined feistiness. But I would really like to know how she manages to do so much running, firstly in heels, and secondly never breaking them! Thankfully the obligatory child characters are not too annoying, and their character arcs are handled well - initially at slight odds with each other but finding a brotherly bond through adversity. The other key players include the aforementioned smarmy Vincent D'Onofrio, head Scientist BD Wong (reprising his role from the original) although Irrfan Khan's billionaire Mr. Masrani feels like he waltzed off the set of another movie. His "look alive!" warcry to the soldiers is both funny and extremely cringeworthy.
Overall, Jurassic World hits much more than it misses, and is a worthy addition to the series despite taking fourteen long years to reach the screen. I don't know where they would go with another sequel, but the fourth entry was mostly an enjoyable experience if not in the same league as the original. It beats The Lost World for slightly less silliness, but if we're talking about spectacle alone it fails to best Jurassic Park III as there are some wonderfully staged, tension filled sequences in Joe Johnston's movie. Still, despite a few teething problems, Trevorrow helms with the panache of much more experienced director. In particular, there's a scene with Bryce Dallas Howard during the grand finale reminiscent (impact-wise) of the entrance of the power loader upgraded Ripley in Aliens that may be an iconic moment in years to come.