"The key to a happy life is to accept you are never actually in control."
-- Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan)
"Hey, don't give me that shit."
-- Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to one member of his Raptor Squad
"Monster is a relative term. To a canary, a cat is a monster. We're just used to being the cat."
-- Henry Wu (BD Wong)
The fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise may not have the same sense of awe the original gave audiences more than twenty years ago (hey, it was the first time we got to see genetically engineered dinosaurs!), but the special effects are far better, the park itself is much more high-tech, and this film has Chris Pratt, who in my opinion is the new alpha of action stars. He reminds me in many ways of Harrison Ford. 'Nuff said.
I disagree with the reviewers who say the film lacks character development. It may not have as much as I'd like, but I believe action reveals a great deal about character, and if there's one thing this film doesn't lack, it's action. Pratt's dino-wrangler Owen Grady is a Navy man who has a vaguely-referenced history with Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire. He's something of a swashbuckler, living in a ramshackle trailer (at least I think there was a trailer under that mess) and riding an old motorcycle. Claire, on the other hand, is a polished corporate professional who ends up looking pretty silly trying to escape rampaging dinosaurs in her high heels. What could these two possibly have in common? Hmmm....
John Hammond, who first conceived the idea of a dinosaur theme park is gone now, having left his dream in the hands of the very wealthy Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), who shows more concern for the welfare of the dinosaurs than anyone else in the movie with the exception of Owen. Sir Richard Attenborough, along with Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern are sorely missed, as well as Julianne Moore from Jurassic Park: The Lost World.
The requisite villains in this installment are Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong, who appeared in Jurassic Park), the geneticist who's missing the conscience gene, and an InGen security chief named Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), who has plans of his own for the dinosaurs--specifically, Owen's team of raptors. Owen doesn't trust him, and with good reason. I kept hoping one of them would eat him.
You can tell the Jurassic movies are geared toward a family audience, because there are always kids in them. This time around, the kids are Claire's nephews, Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins, who was Tony Stark's young sidekick in Iron Man 3, and Nick Robinson), who were sent to Claire for a visit while their parents dealt with an impending divorce. As always, the kids are bright and resourceful.
But to me, the real star of the Jurassic films has always been T-Rex, and when he finally does make an appearance, he delivers. There's a saying in Hollywood: never make a movie with kids or animals. Making a movie with a scenery (and actor) chewing T-Rex could be added to that caution!
Do I recommend it? Definitely--and if you want a second opinion, check out William Kendall's review over at Speak of the Devil....
(Also posted at Rotten Tomatoes and at Amazon.)