Jurassic World posterI came really late to the Jurassic party, finally catching the original in re-release in 2013 — 20 years after its theatrical debut. So it’s kind of a big deal that I sat through a screening of the fourth installment, pre-release, despite recovering from shingles (note to all: if you have a chance to get the shingles vaccine, do it!). Anyway, Jurassic World is frighteningly entertaining, though like the original, not for the very young or faint of heart. If you’re into dinosaurs and a fan of Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Parks and Rec), then JW is a fun ride. However if you’re a purist or over-analyzing type, you should probably skip it. The crowd I saw it with seemed quite divided between indifference, disappointment, and elation.

The gist of the plot is this: Two brothers, Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson) head to the dinosaur-themed amusement park on Isla Nublar in Costa Rica to visit their aloof Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is some sort of marketing/PR bigwig at the park. Aunt Claire basically assigns an assistant to babysit the boys whose ages she can’t even remember. She’s more concerned with boosting the park’s bottom line and satisfying investors and consumers who are chomping at the bit for more up-close-and-personal interactions with bigger, better, faster, scarier dinosaurs than the cloned beasts who’ve been the main attraction at the Park for the past two decades. An experiment to combine the DNA of several different species backfires horribly when a bigger, faster, scarier dinosaur breaks free from its enclosure and goes on a deadly rampage. Aunt Claire suddenly realizes she won’t be winning any Aunt of the Year Awards if her nephews are eaten on her watch, so she enlists the help of an ex-military man/animal trainer/romantic interest named Owen (the immensely appealing Pratt) to help save the day.

There are quite a few parallels, in story and character, between the original and this fourth installment (I’m told JP2 and 3 were forgettable – and skippable, so let’s just pretend they don’t exist). It’s nearly impossible for Jurassic World to compete with the memory or tension of the 1993 classic, because the basic premise is no longer original and the CGI effects have become old hat. But that’s not to say that Jurassic World can’t be enjoyed for what it is – a fast-paced action-adventure movie with a lot of dinosaurs, a high body count, some fun cameos, and a sentimental streak.

It’s not typically my type of movie, but I kind of enjoyed it — thanks mostly to Chris Pratt. He’s proven himself to be quite the leading man.

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