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"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance
of things, but their inner significance." ~ Aristotle

Cinema Signal: For entertainment and production value, it gets the green light. MOBILE version |
. "Jurassic World"

Since originality isn't the primary focus here (it was pretty much exhausted back in the nineties when "Jurassic Park" first showed us what may be contained in a little DNA from the pre-historic wild), this ode to science fabulist Michael Chrichton (who wrote the book from which the concept and characters are taken) is apparently seen by the studio, one of the executive producers, its original director Steven Spielberg and a small brigade of screenwriters (Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, et al) as another romp with the critters that spell big bucks in entertainment spending: resurrected dinosaurs.

The experiment worked, of course. Boxoffices have been flooded with a whole new generation of dino-addicts added to the original pack of fans eager for some thrills. The ticket is to Costa Rica's Isla Nublar where the only theme park that includes a science lab is located. Commissioned to create the promised monster from the stone age for goose-bump thrills with new-era CGI, the island is a resort for the adventurous tourist.

"Awesomeness" is the goal post in this tent, which rests heavily on the genetic engineering of Dr. Henry Wu's (BD Wong) magnified, magnificent test tube monster, his creation: Indominus rex, a mix of Tyrannosaurus rex and an as-yet undisclosed DNA contributor. Giving new meaning to the word, "extinct," Wu takes his marching orders from the cocksure owner of the franchise (taking over the reins once held by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan).

In the central female role is the anxiety-ridden Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, "The Help," "The Village"), the park's operations manager -- a hopelessly optimistic type whose jumpy reactions make it seem like the job is beyond her promotional skill set. More damsel in distress than in control whenever an event comes along to test her capacity for the job -- her reactive peril works as emotional guidance and to complicate the tasks her already embattled ex-boyfriend faces.

That's Owen Grady (the capricious Chris Pratt, "Guardians of the Galaxy"), Jurassic World's dinosaur behavior researcher and trainer of the trio of razor-toothed velociraptors -- one of the park's main attractions. The three animals seem far from docile when an employee accidentally falls into the raptor exhibit. Owen, the dude who feeds them, jumps into the enclosure to divert and talk them down from having him for lunch, which would put an end to the entire ill-conceived enterprise (and call for a re-write).

When Indominus finally makes its appearance, there comes a moment when it confronts the raptors. A surprise awaits the behavioral expert (and the audience) that could prove to be a major source of regret for the corporate geniuses who underestimated what they had brought into being. For the first time, they realize that the result of their investment could ruin them. Awe has turned into disaster.

It all lives up to a grand two-and-a-half hours of spectacle and engaging fun to which much is owed the awesome CGI and the inventive geniuses who guide it. 2nd-time feature director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow did his part to make the effects dazzling and seamless, the narrative construction a study in thrill-making. The superb production visuals are by cinematographer John Schwartzman and production designer Ed Verreaux.

Success also rests heavily on the whimsy and skill of Pratt who comes along at a time when his mix of manhood and deviltry, understanding of when and how to play the gags and play up the dangers, imparts those critical qualities to the film.

Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), the leader of the park's private security force, wants to train the modified raptors as weapons for the military. His secret intentions make him the operational villain of the adventure. D'Onofrio over-animates his character with a bellyful of self-importance and ham.

It's clear that "Jurassic World" can be interpreted as a pitch against genetic modification of animals, ancient or otherwise. Or, as an indictment of corporate greed at any cost to others. But to the extent it's seen that way, the purposes of entertainment overrides the "messages."

I see this film as something on the order of a circus -- a big top as well as tent pole -- making heaps of hucksterism and commercial hay out of bone-chilling scares and our fascination for man against beast (the lion cage), a girl imperiled, handsome daredevil hero to the rescue, kids who venture too far, sound and pacing, etc., etc.

Let's not put too much PC or "meaning" into it. The fearsome modified critter may be a hybrid but the film is all movie. A good time to be devoured by all.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

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