I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
JURASSIC WORLD | 124 min | PG-13
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong and Judy Greer
In the 90s, Steven Spielberg was already a well established filmmaker, bringing in huge hits in earlier decades with iconic films such as JAWS (1975) and E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982). But it was in 1993 that he found his next big project in Michael Crichton’s bestselling novel, JURASSIC PARK. The film adaptation went on to sweep in millions and capture the hearts of many dino-lovers out there, including myself.
Four years after that, Spielberg directed the less impressive but still fun sequel, THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997), also based on Crichton’s novel. And then finally in 2001, the creativity continued to steadily decline with JURASSIC PARK III.
It took awhile for Spielberg to fish out a plot for a fourth film, but he finally found it and hired an unknown filmmaker, Colin Trevorrow, whose indie film SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED received rave reviews in 2012. Trevorrow was a great choice to take on the highly anticipated JURASSIC WORLD. His addition may be a little splotchy in some areas, but ultimately JURASSIC WORLD returns the franchise to form, making it a thrilling adventure for new fans and old.
This new installment takes place years after the disaster of Jurassic Park. Since then, scientists and advertisers managed to work things out and turn the dino-filled island into a huge tourist attraction called “Jurassic World.”
Attendance has been steady but not quite the numbers they were hoping for, so they keep things interesting by creating new attractions. Their latest asset is a genetically modified dinosaur called “Indominus Rex,” which much to your surprise, escapes and causes much chaos.
JURASSIC WORLD sees many new characters, starting with the ab-tastic charmer Chris Pratt (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, 2014). His character, Owen, is fine but hugely underwritten and dips into the cliché pool. Thankfully, however, Pratt still manages to bring forth his signature swagger and comic sensibility that has made him so endearing over the years– leaving him to be the only shining star in the cast next to Jake Johnson’s small role as a tech working in the park’s control room.
Bryce Dallas Howard (THE HELP, 2011) is decent enough as Claire, an uptight corporate woman who oversees everything at the attraction. However, Howard’s Claire is nothing remarkable like Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler, even when her character breaks the conventions of a female character in a film of this genre. She’s just there and keeps things moving along. And then there is, of course, the kids (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) who play the nephews of Howard’s character. They are, as you could probably guess, put right in the middle of it, just like the first film.
But once the bloody carnage begins, Pratt and the rest of the cast are overshadowed by the dinosaurs, especially those damn raptors. I cannot tell you how cool that scene is from the trailer when the raptors run by Owen’s side while on the hunt for the malicious Indominus Rex. It gives you chills how great it is.
The first half of the movie is when we are introduced to the characters and shown how everything works, but the second half presents everything audiences could want from a creature feature film. The scenes are (for the most part) pretty incredible, full with continuous shots of the dinos in spectacular view. The effects are worthy of note, and Michael Giacchino’s music shares the heart and tone of John Williams’ score.
JURASSIC WORLD may be a tad predictable and consist of weakly written characters, but it’s the epitome of a spiritual successor. The film inherits many of the good attributes from the franchise and presents them in a nostalgic and entertaining way. It may not be the knock out of the park, so to speak, but Trevorrow and Co provide more than enough to entertain audiences.
JURASSIC WORLD opens in theaters tomorrow night.