This is a very adequate movie. Forget the giant box-office take and noisy buzz — there are plenty of thrills but no quantum leap in either the fear-factor or special-effects departments. It’s surprising since the film was penned by the writers who resuscitated the Planet of the Apes franchise so beautifully and a director (Colin Trevorrow) who gave us time travel on a dime budget with Safety Not Guaranteed. Instead of wonder, they made chapter four from a smorgasbord of all the previous films. Instead of new ideas, they gave us in-jokes; they looked back in languor with winks. A character in the Jurassic World control room wears a Jurassic Park T-shirt. Doesn’t it bother you that all those people died? asks Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Ron), referring to the mayhem Spielberg unleashed two decades ago. “It’s vintage,” he explained. The movie even makes fun of its one big invention, the lab-made dinosaur called Indominus rex, which sounds like a prayer from a Catholic Latin Mass. It’s the public’s fault, all the movie scientists say; they want it bigger and scarier each time. Just doing our job.
Well, the public won’t find bigger stuff here. This perfectly okay film works like all the others: Big-mouthed T. rex hybrid, shifty-clever raptors, with a nice (though brief) addition of pterodactyls and a giant ocean-a-saurus, who probably swallowed a lot of budget in this tale of a yet again ill-advised theme park reopening at cursed Isla Nublar, where scientific hubris gets served up (along with the guests) on big, whole-wheat, natural-retribution buns.
Before long, you’re rooting for the reptiles, mainly because the humans seem far less emotionally evolved. Chris Pratt is awkwardly fun (he’s a retired Navy man, so he understands how to train dinos). There’s no one to dislike much either, though Vincent D’Onofrio plays a suitably greasy corporate stooge. In the end, there is running, munching, and artillery, and T. rex gets some awesome roar-time. It isn’t brilliant. It’s vintage.