The fictional Jurassic Park is back in business, updated into an even bigger and slicker resort that gives its name to "Jurassic World." Despite countless casualties racked up over three films, the park has cooked up a new attraction, a man-made beast called the Indominus rex. "Nobody's impressed by a dinosaur anymore," says Claire, a Jurassic executive played by a chilly Bryce Dallas Howard. "Consumers want them bigger, louder. More teeth."
She's talking about you, moviegoers, and "Jurassic World" will certainly give you your money's worth. It's a beat-for-beat repeat of Steven Spielberg's 1993 smash, "Jurassic Park," but with smoother effects and niftier gadgetry (and more product placement). That turns out to be a calculated but winning formula. Directed almost as an homage by Colin Trevorrow, "Jurassic World" is a new and thrilling roller coaster built on familiar territory.
The basics haven't changed. We're still following two kids: excitable young Gray (Ty Simpkins) and his too-cool teenage brother, Zach (Nick Robinson), who have been sent to the park alone by their weepy mom (Judy Greer). The boys' aunt is Claire, but she's too busy climbing the corporate ladder -- and flirting with raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) -- to watch them. When the Indominus rex busts out of its concrete bunker, the boys are MIA.
There isn't much chemistry between Claire, who can be shockingly heartless, and Owen, who mostly glowers. Pratt, the insouciant charmer from last year's "Guardians of the Galaxy," seems a bit wasted in this humorless role; there's far more appeal to Lowery (Jake Johnson), a tech-savvy nebbish with a dormant heroic streak. Vincent D'Onofrio has fun playing Hoskins, a scheming military contractor with plans for those raptors.
Remember in 1993 when the dinosaur played cat and mouse with two kids in a Ford Explorer? Here the kids are trapped in a spherical gyro-pod, but the idea is the same. Other repeated scenes include the raptors wreaking havoc, the park's owner, Mr. Masrani (Irrfan Khan), watching his empire crumble and a climactic battle of Godzilla-like magnitude -- and that's just a short list. There isn't anything original here, but it's all executed with energy and skill. As always, the underlying message is that nature, like Hollywood formulas, should not be tampered with.