Jurassic World (4 stars)

Jurassic World

Chris Pratt is our man of action as the franchise returns to cinemas, and to form

Will they never learn? 22 years after the disastrous events of the original film, the park is open for business, with credulous, drooling punters going gaga for the prehistoric attractions and 'oohs' and 'aahs' ringing out across Isla Nublar. As Jeff Goldblum observed in The Lost World, 'That's how it always starts but then later there's running and screaming.' And so it goes here.

Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) co-writes and takes the reins of the fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise. A decade of operation and falling attendance has led to increasingly cynical and reckless decision-making by greedy corporate types. It's all bastard businessmen, mad science and concerned underlings behind the scenes, but a sense of Spielbergian wonder persists as we're introduced to the island through the saucer-eyes of dino-geek Gray (Ty Simpkins) who's visiting with his older brother Zach (Nick Robinson). They're supposedly in the care of their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park's robotic manager, but she's less than attentive until a new creation runs amok, which also gives raptor wrangler Owen (man of the moment Chris Pratt) a chance to come into his own.

Jurassic World blends the familiar (surrogate family units, a brittle adult learning to love kids) with the topical (sponsored dinosaurs, a plot to weaponise the creatures led by big bad Vincent D'Onofrio), while it lifts the genetic modification folly and dynamic between the mismatched leads from crap-classic Deep Blue Sea. In his evolution to action hero Pratt (brick shithouse in stature, furrowed in brow) has shed some of his easy charm but his character is less obnoxious than the trailers suggested, while Howard spends the duration transitioning from corporate queen bee into Bruce Willis.

Watching it in 3D adds little but the screenplay is the real weak-link, with the functional dialogue rarely amounting to more than by-the-numbers moralising / explaining / evil-doing, and the franchise's trademark sarcasm is missed. However, Trevorrow orchestrates this great big dinorama with flair, taking things up a notch both energy and spectacle-wise after the disappointing third entry. Just as the perilously super-sized exhibits are a necessity to ensure the theme park's continued success, the films themselves are obliged to keep getting bigger – especially with the technical advancements and surge in bombastic fare since 2001 – thankfully, this is pulled off with aplomb.

Trevorrow's indie sensibility is evident in some of the casting (Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus appear) and more leftfield choices (an attempt at a heroic kiss ends in rejection in one of the movie's few big laughs). But the real pleasure is in the confidently executed, impactful set-pieces and the impressively rendered creatures. Jurassic World has enough scares, scale, ideas and variety to keep every generation on the edge of their seats. It's good ol' family entertainment – just with much bigger teeth.

General release from Thu 11 Jun.

Jurassic World | Trailer 2 (Universal Pictures)

Jurassic World

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 2h 4min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
  • Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson
  • UK release: 12 June 2015

Dino-geek Gray (Simpkins) visits Jurassic Park with brother Zach (Robinson); the park's manager, their aunt Claire (Howard), is less than attentive until a new creation runs amok and raptor wrangler Owen (Pratt) steps in. Despite a merely functional screenplay, it has enough scares, scale, ideas and variety to keep…