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Movie review: Wait for 'Jurassic World' on video

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(5 out of 10 stars)

(124 minutes.  Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and peril)

Jurassic Worldwas suppose to save me.

The months between Oscar season and the blockbuster, popcorn-movie summer season are generally known as the dump months where studios throw out movies for consumption that did not test-screen well, or are low-budget, high-blood horror flicks that will attract the teen crowd.  Essentially the movie-going public becomes a proverbial dumping ground for those films which do not meet the high standards <cough> of Hollywood today.

I personally refer to these times, before the baseball season starts, as the desolate months because there is rarely a movie that compels me, or anyone, to the theaters.  Like most everyone else, I am stuck watching Netflix and Sopranos reruns on HBO.

This year has been especially bad.  Even though the summer season progressively starts earlier and earlier each year, this particular year has been a barren wasteland of media.  There have been no immediate box office smash successes, and even the normally guaranteed summer smash, the Avengers movie, was not even review-worthy it was so bad.

So it was with great anticipation and bated breath that I waited for the release of Jurassic World, the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park series (even though the other two sequels stuck to high heaven).  Even better than that?  Steven Spielberg had his name on it as executive producer, which means it has to be good, right?

Not so much.

Not that it was bad.  It was not.  Aside from a linear and painfully elementary plot that would not challenge a three year-olds mind, characters whom I did not care about, and lame, and I mean lame, referential jokes back to the original movie, it was great.

If you have seen the trailer (and then really, you have seen it all), then you know that Isle Nublar was turned into a theme park 10 years ago, and now in 2015, revenues are down and they are looking for ways to pump money into the coffers.  Much like the next iteration of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, the genetic engineers at InGen have concocted the newest dinosaurone that never even existed on earththe Indominus rex.  Yeah, huh?

Of course, the storywriters, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, combine this uncontainable and indestructible Indominus rex with a couple of kids to who are there to visit their aunt who is, in turn, the operations manager of the park.  Next, they introduce a swashbuckling Navy dinosaur researcher (and dont ask me why the NAVY would research a land-based animal), and supplement that with a bad-guy who wants to use dinosaurs for nefarious reasons, and you have your next two hours of your life ready to go.

Here is one of my many issues:  does this not sound exactly like a genetic researcher who wants to make velociraptors, brings in a paleontologist, a bad guy (Newman) and a couple of kids?  Change the job titles, and let it rip, eh, guys?  No offense, Steven, but this is the same storyline from 1992.

And given the assignment of writers for this film, I should not be surprised.  These two are the authors of the insanely insipid and wildly stupid Planet of the Apes reboot series, so I should have known to just leave all expectations at the door.

These two are hired on to write the next two Avatar installments, so there goes that.

Chris Pratt, who is always fun to watch on screen, is the Navy researcher/dino trainer who warns all those who will not listen that dinosaurs are dangerous (heard it before).  He excels again here, but even his high energy and charisma cannot save this movie. 

His romantic interest, the operations manager whose nephews just happen to be on Isle Nublar, is played by Bryce Dallas Howard.  Howard is also a gifted actress with lots of nice work on her resume, including 50/50 and The Help. 

Director Colin Trevorro should have stopped the process sometime during filming and checked the pulses of both of these actors because there was zero chemistry between them.  When the two kissed toward the end of the movie, I found myself saying, oh, I guess they are attracted toward each other.

The rest of the actors did what they could with the script.  The two boys, Nick Robinson (in last summers delightful indie The Kings of Summer) and Ty Simpkins (the kid who stole the scene from Robert Downey, Jr in Iron Man 3) had some nice scenes together and provided the few smiles generated and were easily the most magnetic of the cast.

Of course, the uncredited star of the movie was the CGI-graphics.  The dinosaurs were so life-like, you forget that they are pixelated in after production.  Each summer, audiences are treated to better and better special effects, and I know they are so good, we have begun to expect nothing less.  Sure, Spielberg was ground-breaking in 1992 with his dinosaurs, but 23 years later, those are regulated to Ben Hur corny in comparison.

And to cap matters off, the music was done by Michael Giacchino, he of Up and other Pixar film fame.  Naturally, they used the original score by John Williams, and it was delightful to hear that here, but Giacchinos filler, so to speak, was less than inspiring.

I guess my disappointment lies in that what makes most all Spielberg movies great was entirely overlooked hereand to me it is not rocket science.  A good story is always a good story.  The original Jurassic Park was not great because of his dino special effectsit was great because it was a multi-layered story that was fresh and unique and had characters for whom we cared.  The fact that we watched a 50-ton dinosaur crush a Ford Explorer was simply icing on the cake.

Spielberg has always had the innate ability to create film that takes me back to being 13 years-old again.  Here, I wish I were 13 years-old again, because my 13 year-old son loved it.  Most other parents smiled and nodded.

Skip Jurassic World this weekend and go see the new Pixar movie.  Wait for the rental on this one.

I give this film 5 out of 10 stars.

About the Author
Who was that mysterious man you saw in the theater last night? You tried to get a look at him but he quickly disappeared in a puff of smoke, his cackle trailing in the air, leaving behind his calling card: a half-eaten box of popcorn and a lukewarm soda. He is Our Movie Reviewer named Tim!