Jurassic World **

The franchise's latest is big, glossy, and underwhelming

Is it worth $10? No

“Nobody’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore,” says operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) in the early moments of “Jurassic World,” and how true it is for moviegoers as well: Visual effects are leaps and bounds beyond what they were in 1993 when “Jurassic Park” was a box office smash, and that film’s two ho-hum sequels prompted fans to grow weary of the “Jurassic” world. So surely executive producer Steven Spielberg and director Colin Trevorrow have something great in store for us with this fourth outing, right?

The franchise should’ve remained extinct.

“Jurassic World” is a big, humorless, drab movie, saved only by an inspired finale that at least allows you to leave the theater having enjoyed something.

Set in Isla Nublar in Costa Rica, which is the same location as “Jurassic Park,” the park has reopened as a futuristic amusement center optimized for profitability and access to the dinosaurs. There’s a petting zoo, T-Rex observatory, aquarium, aviary, on-site hotel, and of course the one thing it couldn’t possibly function without, a Starbucks. The problem is operating expenses are too high, so every few years scientists have to create something new to keep their 21,000 daily visitors coming back.

To the tune of $26 million, meet the 50-foot tall Indominus Rex. She’s a genetically created hybrid of various creatures that’s bigger and meaner than any dinosaur known to have existed, is supremely intelligent and kills for sport. She is an enemy to and the worst nightmare of any living being on the island, which means the insufferable humans argue over how to stop her when she escapes.

Claire is at first overly concerned with company profits before she wises up and remembers her sister (Judy Greer) is counting on her to take care of her two nephews (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) as they visit the park. To his credit the park’s owner, Simon (Irrfan Khan), tries to do the right thing, but it’s too late to change his critical mistakes. Owen (Chris Pratt) and his assistant Brady (Omar Sy) work with Velociraptors and have developed a bit of a rapport with the prehistoric creatures, which the head of security (Vincent D’Onofrio) believes can be an asset in hunting the Indominus. Owen disagrees. Emphatically. You know a movie’s bad when the even the endearing Chris Pratt (“Parks & Rec,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”) is so stifled he can’t crack a joke for some comic relief.

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The visual effects and scale of the production reflect enormous ambition, so the lack of success certainly isn’t due to limited vision. The execution, however, is faulty, as there are long stretches in which nothing dynamic happens, and the action scenes are pretty standard and consistent with what we’ve seen from this franchise before.

Understand: The first “Jurassic Park” worked because it had ingenuity and most importantly a “wow” factor that crackled with excitement every time a dinosaur was on screen. But as Claire readily admits in the above quote – and the filmmakers certainly know as well – dinosaurs alone aren’t enough, and it’s these extra elements in “Jurassic World” that underwhelm. Simply put, there’s nothing to “wow” at here, and we go to movies like these to do nothing but “wow.”

Did you know?
Jimmy Fallon has a cameo on a park monitor; his “Tonight Show” airs on NBC and the movie was made by Universal Pictures, both of which are owned by Comcast.

Jurassic World

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