February 23, 2020

POPCORN: “Jurassic World” Just When You Thought it was Safe

3 popcorns

3 popcorns


By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


I haven’t given all that much thought to director Colin Trevorrow’s “Jurassic World” since seeing it, at least not in the usual sense; you know how you mull a film that impresses you. Rather, I’ve been considering this 4th rendering of the modern horror classic in the involuntarily sense, like at the diner the other night. Sitting by the window, I suddenly feared a Stegosaurus’s tail might come crashing in at me. Happily, it didn’t. Even more fortunate, the story’s hybrid Indominus Rex didn’t come loping after me as I walked to my car. I glanced behind to see.

This is a lot of old-fashioned fun, the old-fashioned referring to the neo-traditional scare tactic Steven Spielberg established when he breathed new and rejuvenating life into the genre. Although his name doesn’t appear among the writing or directing credits, the executive producer’s signature is present throughout the film…a juxtaposition of the commonplace and extraordinary that to this day has us wondering if it’s really safe to go back in the water. In emulating the boss’ style, Mr. Trevorrow can’t help but create a stylistic homage to him.


Point of disclosure: Disaster epics are among my least favorite films. You see, I’m inevitably confounded as to why someone would want to see a lot of innocent people crushed, crumbled, torn asunder and/or eaten as they cry holy hell. OK, some deserve it. Yet in this treatment, there is a redemptive winking of the creative eye without being campy. I could trust that at least some of the people I got to like as the story unfolded would be spared from a gruesome chewing and swallowing. It’s all you can ask.


The filmmaker smartly keeps the storyline simple, refraining from the you-know-what directors try to baffle us with when bereft of dazzling brilliance. Here the plot is merely a frame upon which to construct the movie magic whilst engendering just the right amount of empathy.


Filling that bill are brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), two well-scrubbed representatives of Middle America who’ve been shipped off to the title amusement park for fun, bonding and a reuniting with Mom’s career gal sister, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). She’s a bigwig there, the executive assistant to industrial magnate Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), a self-proclaimed visionary who figures the world is once again ready for a recreation of when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.


We learn early on, when Claire rebukes an engineer for wearing a vintage tee from the old park, that it’s verboten to talk about what happened in 1993. After all, everything’s better now, from security, to technology, to an understanding of just what scientists are doing when they splice genes from extinct animals who’d be capable of wiping out entire villages, if they had yet existed. However, we’ve seen enough movies to know that the siblings’ outing isn’t just about little brother Gray’s dinosaur mania and teenaged Zach’s hellzapoppin hormones.


Besides, there’s that ominous music every time one of the Jurassic World principals talks about their particular view of the future and how it just so happens to coincide with their financial interests. Yep, that something that’s rotten in Denmark has apparently spread to Costa Rica, where “Jurassic World” is set. It’s a heavy breathing, bigger than life diorama dedicated to entrepreneurial greed at any cost.


So here we mere mortals are again, paying no mind to those before us who messed with Mother Nature and unleashed gosh knows what wrath. But the gluttony doesn’t end there. Military contractor Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) adds a sarcastic layer to it.


Tossing around his quasi-governmental weight and bullying his way into the scenario, the despicable, profiteering stooge figures he can pull the wool over hawk and dove eyes alike by dishing out malarkey about his humanitarian concerns. Forget about drones, he says. The future victors of war will employ bioengineered beasts like the deadly velociraptors being trained under the auspices of Owen, a decorated Navy man, all-around good guy and potential love interest for Aunt Claire. Played by Chris Pratt, he’s handsome, rides a motorcycle and surely recycles.


Naturally, our Father Earth hero personified is opposed to Hoskins’s ambitions. However, all bets are off when, as promised to and anticipated by calamity lovers of every stripe, all havoc breaks loose. It’s quite an eyeful…a stupendously choreographed panoply of action directed with lickety-split timing and big thrill panache. Plus, just so as not to appear too bloodthirsty,

there’s a perfunctory sprinkling of moralisms to ponder while we excitedly chomp on our genetically modified popcorn.


Gloriously over the top but smartly shunning the bulk of its competitors’ pretensions to serious moviemaking, the Spielberg-blessed “Jurassic World” puts jaw-dropping fun back in the summer blockbuster.

“Jurassic World,” rated PG-13, is a Universal Pictures release directed by Colin Trevorrow and stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Ty Simpkins. Running time: 124 minutes





















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