'Jurassic World': Is it better than previous films?

'World' follows two tepidly received 'Jurassic' sequels. What makes this movie different from 'The Lost World' and 'Jurassic Park III'? Actor Chris Pratt is only one of the factors.

Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/AP
'Jurassic World' stars Chris Pratt (second from l.), Bryce Dallas Howard (l.), Nick Robinson (second from r.) and Ty Simpkins (r.).

The film “Jurassic World,” the newest in a series about scientists bringing back dinosaurs, is set to hit theaters on June 12. 

The movie is directed by Colin Trevorrow, a relative newbie whose previous credits include the 2012 movie “Safety Not Guaranteed,” and takes place in a “Jurassic” world where the mission of the first movie – to create an amusement park where families can come and view dinosaurs – has been accomplished. “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Chris Pratt portrays Owen Grady, who works at the park and trains dinosaurs, while Bryce Dallas Howard of “The Help” is the park’s operations manager. When those behind the park create a new dinosaur to get more people through the gates of Jurassic World, things go dangerously wrong.

The history of “Jurassic” as a franchise has not been a particularly auspicious one creatively. While the movies did well at the box office, neither 1997’s “The Lost World” nor 2001’s “Jurassic Park III” were well-received by critics (“Lost” holds a score of 59 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic, while “III” did even worse with a score of 42). 

So what sets “World” apart from its predecessors? According to some early reviews of the film, one major plus for this film is its cast. Guardian writer Peter Bradshaw writes that Pratt “gives a tremendously likeable performance… somewhere on a continuum between Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks” and that Howard is “very good,” while Variety critic Scott Foundas called Pratt “effortlessly engaging” and Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers called him “uber-relatable… [Pratt] aces it as an action hero and invests his… banter with a comic flair the movie could have used more of,” also calling Howard a “dynamo.” IGN writer Daniel Krupa agreed, calling Howard "great" and writing that "Pratt is every bit the matinee idol here." However, Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Nashawaty found the characters themselves uninteresting, writing that the film “doesn’t have much interest in giving these characters third – or even second – dimensions.”

Also working in this movie’s favor, according to reviewers? Trevorrow. Foundas wrote that the director “gives the movie a warmer, brighter touch, closer in feel to the original film,” though Foundas thought that Trevorrow is “far less adept at staging big action.” Hollywood Reporter writer Todd McCarthy found that “there's a certain low-key affability about Trevorrow's approach that marks him a likeable humanist rather than as a director determined to hammer the viewer into submission” and Travers wrote that the movie is “also more than a blast of rumbling, roaring, 'did you... see that!' fun. It's got a wicked streak of subversive attitude that goes by the name of Colin Trevorrow.” Krupa also praised the director, writing that "Trevorrow has been allowed to build quietly a much more thoughtful, character-driven movie than I ever expected."

And overall, it seems to be just an old-fashioned blockbuster (in a good way) with plenty of action and jaw-dropping sequences. It’s just fun, say many critics. Bradshaw called the film “a terrifically enjoyable and exciting summer spectacular: savvy, funny, ridiculous in just the right way, with some smart imaginative twists,” while Nashawaty wrote that the movie is “easily the franchise’s most thrilling sequel yet” and McCarthy found that “the old-fashioned Saturday matinee-like pleasures stemming from resourceful derring-do in the face of mighty odds retain an appeal if done reasonably well, which is the case here.” Going back to a franchise's roots seems to be the key to success for "World."

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