Packed with action, fantastic visuals and plenty of clever references to the original film, JURASSIC WORLD finally serves up the sequel that we've been waiting for since 1993.
It's 22 years later and the park that John Hammond dreamed of in the original film is now open. It's been a big hit, now occupies the entire island of Isla Nublar and features everything you'd expect from a park in 2015, down to the Margaritaville, Starbucks and plenty of souvenir shops.
The bad news for new owner Simon Masrani (a very good Irrfan Kahn) is that after being open ten years, attendance is flat (20,000 people a day, but flat) and kids at the park today spend as much time looking at their iPhones as they do the dinos. They aren't such a big deal anymore.
In a quest to boost attendance, he mandates Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong, the only returning character from the original) to create a NEW, bigger, better, meaner dinosaur.
As the film opens, senior park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is getting ready to introduce the new dino INDOMINUS REX to the park the following month. Her nephews Gray and Nick are visiting the park on a seemingly perfect day. What could go wrong?
Chris Pratt plays Owen, a former navy special ops man now working at the park training the raptors. When Simon and Claire ask him to verify the security and integrity of the holding pen for the Indominus Rex, he soon discovers that the newly created dino is not only bigger and meaner, it's also smarter and has adapted all the best parts of its assembled DNA to become something much more dangerous.
Indominus breaks out of its pen and the movie is off and running with one suspenseful action sequence after another.
Credit Director Colin Trevorrow for crafting a sequel that pays clever tribute to the original while taking every visual and sequence to another level than was achievable 22 years ago.
You also have to credit Steven Spielberg for handing Colin the reins to the franchise after only one very small budget film. It's a lot of trust and Spielberg's choice pays off.
The nephews are well cast, with brother-to-brother interplay that feels real and not forced and are well played by Ty Simpkins (Gray) and Nick Robinson (Zach).
Jake Johnson (New Girl) plays Lowery, a nerdy member of command central with a penchant for plastic dinos on his work station and vintage Jurassic Park t-shirts. Johnson is our comic relief and he is perfect, providing plenty of laughs. His nearly great romantic moment is perfectly executed.
The only false note in the film is the whole weaponizing the raptors storyline and Vincent D'Onofrio's one note performance as Hoskins. Someone should have told D'Onofrio that this wasn't "Full Metal Jacket 2". But it's a small complaint in an otherwise perfectly executed film.
No spoilers here, but how about those grandstands in the big water attraction? How about the smart shot-for-shot tribute to Jeff Goldblum and his flare when Claire opens Paddock 9 with flare in hand? Did you catch the dancing DNA-man animation from the original, now fleshed out on holographic projections?
Notice how the boys in the gyroscope provide a 2016 version of the rainy jeep sequence outside the T-Rex pen in the original? It's a fine line to pay tribute to some of our favorite moments in film without becoming pale imitations and Trevorrow consistently finds a way to note them, respect them and then reinvent them with today's technology.
Pratt and Howard are saddled with underwritten, very stereotypical roles but make the best of them. Pratt is especially winning. When the nephews proclaim he is a "bad-ass", it's hard to disagree.
Just as he did when creating the music for the last two Star Trek films, composer Michael Giacchino manages to pay tribute to the original film's score while creating something exciting and new. John Williams themes are front and center and take you back in all the right ways.
Constantly one-upping itself all the way to its conclusion, JURASSIC WORLD is the excellent sequel to the original that "Lost World" and "JP3" never came close to being.
The Park Is Open indeed and gets an A.
Followed in 2018 by JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM.