Movie review: Jurassic World is a sporadically enjoyable ride

Things go awry in the dinosaur theme park.
Things go awry in the dinosaur theme park.PHOTO: UIP

Review Action adventure

JURASSIC WORLD (PG13)

125 minutes/Now showing/ ** 1/2

The story: Two decades after the events of Jurassic Park (1993), the teething problems have been fixed and the theme park on Isla Nublar is finally a thriving attraction. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the operations manager, has been asked to shepherd her nephews during their visit as her boss, Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), prepares to unveil a new, more terrifying predator. Raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) finds his skills in demand when things go awry.

Sporadically enjoyable but frequently frustrating, the fourth in the series of movies about a theme park for people with chronic amnesia when it comes to remembering past industrial accidents offers plenty of spectacle, just not a lot of coherence.

There is a beastly hybrid on the loose here and we are not just talking about the star killer reptile. The movie itself feels bolted together from other, better films.

The genetic tinkering that created this movie chimera starts with a featured monster with a special trait lifted from Predator (1987). Then, as abruptly as these characteristics are introduced, they are forgotten.

At one point, the film threatens to become a remake of Godzilla but, thankfully, even its producers thought it would be a bit much and pulled it back from the brink. As in the first movie, children are placed in harm's way to raise the dramatic stakes, but unlike Jurassic Park, nothing is done with their characters.

The youngsters, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), are script sock puppets who attempt a lunge at audience sympathy through a single, out-of-the-blue complaint about a possible parental divorce. The same goes for park boss Masrani (Khan), a man who appears to have had his character motivations rewritten mid-way.

This lack of attention to character is most glaringly obvious in the two leads, Claire (Howard) and Owen (Pratt), who seem to have stepped into this movie from a disposable rom-com featuring a career-obsessed woman unable to admit that she is still in love with a former fling, a loutish man's man.

Director Colin Trevorrow and his team of writers use movie shorthand to sketch them - she is uptight and he is an alpha male free spirit - before moving on to the raison d'etre, the monster mayhem.

B.D. Wong returns as geneticist Dr Henry Wu, but the star comebacks are the velociraptors - this time given names and distinguishing personality traits. They are pitched in combat against the new creature, the Indominus Rex, and these and the man-versus-monster scenes are beautiful collages of computer graphics and animatronics, featuring just the right amount of body-ripping gore.

Clocking in at two hours, this movie feels crudely chopped together from a four-hour miniseries.

While the audience may be more than ready to swallow the premise of a predator park run by greedy technocrats fuelled by hubris, they deserve more than this collection of scaly stunts.