Chris Pratt continues to be this generation’s Harrison Ford and Bryce Dallas Howard finally gets her moment to shine as the lead actress many have known her capable of being since she first arrived on the Hollywood scene over a decade ago, but is this film everything it promised? 22 years after the original Jurassic Park film, the franchise has slowly but surely fallen into absurdity and has become a sad facsimile of the original satirical and terrifying world that Michael Crichton originally presented to his legion of smart readers. But one giant product placement after another and a script that is essentially a bunch of adults playing in the sandbox with their various dinosaur toys and refusing to connect the dots or build up their human cast members along the way is still not enough to derail this film completely.
The first hour-or-so is director Colin Trevorrow and his legion of screenwriters more or less wallowing in nostalgia along with the whole audience. Yes, we get it. We saw the original film, along with the other sequels. And last year’s Godzilla reboot. And countless other monster films. The special effects, excluding one shot with the “new” dinosaur overlooking a waterfall, are directly taken from previous films, which borders on annoying for fans of the originals, but could very easily be written off as a nice series of homages, if the story (which will kill brain cells if thought on too long) or the characterization (of which there is none) were the true driving force of the film, which takes over an hour to truly start. Actors Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, B. D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, and Judy Greer are wasted talents included just to fill out the roster of big name actors. And though Pratt seemingly can do no wrong, his character is so poorly written that it is hard to like him until we are forced to because he is the hero. Howard is the one acting highlight of the film, rising above her horrid script and owning every single scene, providing depth and strength in a role obviously written by someone who has never encountered a positive female role model.
The final twenty minutes of the film take a turn for the crazier when the audience realizes that it is essentially going to continue down the same exact path as the original when suddenly, seemingly out of left field, the script provides its first (and only) genuine shock: an original turn. And that very turn makes up for the entire film and all of its failures and mediocrities. The finale is worth the price of admission alone. It would be great to see Pratt and Howard return, along with some of the special effects crew, for the inevitable sequel. But the writers need to be left in the dust and, if you’ll excuse the pun, go the way of the dinosaur.