If I were a studio exec and you came to me last year with relatively-unknown director Colin Trevorrow (“Safety Not Guaranteed”) and the writing team behind 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” pitching a remake of the 1993 Steven Spielberg / Michael Crichton masterpiece “Jurassic Park,” I would have laughed you off the lot…
… aaaannnnddd would be parking your Bentley today having passed on it and its record-setting $500 million opening weekend (please tip your valet generously, our dental plans don’t cover orthodontia).
Let’s skip past the obviou$ “why remake a perfect film” question and get to the “how.”
Like teasing a triceratops with a pulled pork sandwich, reanimating a cinema classic is not without peril. The core storyline is essentially the same: Two kids run amok in a theme park overrun with reconstituted dinosaurs. This one, however, is absent the moral compass of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm and the original’s lightheartedness.
Instead, we get Minnesota native Chris Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) training velociraptors to perform and a corporate bottom-liner damsel-in-distress (Bryce Dallas Howard) that has feminists more upset than a mosquito stuck in tree sap.
It all seems improbable, and I’m not talking about the plot: I am referring to the movie’s success. But for all its shortcomings (alongside the original, anyway), this one is simply a lot of fun.
“Dodgson, we haven’t got Dodgson here!” But we do get a few fun nods to its begetter. Mr. DNA has a cameo and one of the attraction operators (the normally-hysterical-but-here-taken-down-a-notch Jake Johnson) sports a vintage “Jurassic Park” T-shirt with a backstory.
What helps buoy this one are the value-adds like the epic pterodactyl attack on the park reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” that is, if those birds were 40 feet long and could fly off with park attendees (which is why it’s always a good idea to get your hands stamped, y’know, so you can get back in).
Pratt and Dallas-Howard are only so-so as is Vincent D’Onofrio as the Brian Dennehy-channeling defense department operative secretly trying to weaponize the velociraptors as a less cruel enhanced interrogation alternative to (hyperbole warning on) the wretched singing of that other famous dinosaur, the purple one (hyperbole warning off).
But the effects are great and the portions are large. See it in theaters; it won’t be the same film on the small screen.
Med City Movie Guy’s rating: 4 Honks