After 14 years of being cinematically extinct, those raptors, pterodactyls and, of course, that nasty Tyrannosaurs rex are all back, terrorizing the humans in “Jurassic World.” This fourth entry in the series isn’t quite as thrilling or memorable as the first installment in 1993, but it’s leaps and bounds better than the other two sequels and one of the most exciting movies of the summer.
Steven Spielberg, who directed the first two “Jurassic” movies, returns as executive producer, but the stars of the first three films — Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum — are missing in action. This one gives us Chris Pratt from “Guardians of the Galaxy” as Owen Grady, who specializes in raptor training, and Bryce Dallas Howard co-stars as Claire Dearing, who runs a new theme park on the same island as the first film now known as — you guessed it — Jurassic World.
Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins play brothers and Claire’s nephews who visit the park for a weekend getaway. They happen to come on a monumental day as the park showcases its brand-new genetically modified species of dinosaur known as the Indominus rex. Just like the first three films, it isn’t long before the creatures turn on the humans and see the park as one big feeding frenzy. Vincent D’Onofrio plays the park’s head of security who uses whatever means necessary.
The movie features at least three wildly entertaining set pieces. The first is a sequence in which the two brothers are riding in a gyrosphere to look at the park’s exhibits, but once the chaos begins, they’re knocked off their trajectory and bounce around like they’re in a pinball. This sequence comes dangerously close to jumping the shark. The second involves a herd of flying dinos called Pteranodons that attack the park’s visitors in a manner straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” complete with measured doses of gore to obtain the PG-13 rating. The third — and best — one is the climax, with the humans fighting the dinosaurs and Pratt displaying some sensational stunt work that would look right at home in an Indiana Jones film.
Director Colin Trevorrow stays true to the spirit of the series’ other movies, and he’s obviously good at blasting the screen with special effects to distract us, but the beginning takes a long while to get us invested, and these characters are not nearly as enjoyable as those in the other films. “Jurassic World” is much more interested in revisiting the cheesy dialogue and typical thrills.
Despite all that, the movie does give way to a conclusion that is on the level of the original. Even though I missed Neill, Dern and Goldblum, this cast gets its moments, and the creatures are some amazing sights. This is a worthy and mostly entertaining sequel.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.