3 Stars — Intense

The premise of the Jurassic films continues to be humanity’s inability to control science. Positing that science is often the handmaiden of military dominance and corporate greed, the suggestion is made that even our theme parks are but shallow shells over the darker dangers that lurk within humanity. In this instance, it is not only the ability to bring dinosaurs back to life through genetic harvesting of their blood from preserved mosquitoes, but also the genetic engineering of hybrid creatures even more monstrous than what originally roamed the Earth.

The original Jurassic Park film was directed by Stephen Spielberg and written by Michael Crichton. Followed by two other films, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (directed by Spielberg) and Jurassic Park III (directed by Joe Johnston), this fourth film in the series, Jurassic World, is again only loosely based on Crichton’s novel and is directed by Colin Trevorrow.

The story picks up 22 years after the original founding of the park. Changing the nomenclature from “park” to “world,” there are two interlocking plots and a love story just as there were in the original tale.

In this chapter of the story, the naïve dreamer is Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), who has a true love for the creatures that populate the newly redesigned theme park. His innocence and good will are reminiscent of John Hammond, whose InGen company Masrani now heads. His head of operations is an uptight woman, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is stridently trying to fulfill the company’s need for a new attraction of a genetically engineered dinosaur that will cause the public to want to return since gate receipts are falling. The danger in doing so is missed on both of them but not on Owen (Chris Pratt), whose job it is to work with these intelligent and lethal creatures.

The interwoven plot is that none of these people know that the chief scientist at their company, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), has sold out to the military under the authority of Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio). Believing that the raptors could be trained to be trackers and killers, Hoskins has been manipulating the company through Dr. Wu to create even more lethal dinosaurs and train them to hunt. These two plots weave together wonderfully throughout the film and provide the expected Jurassic mayhem.

Also reminiscent of the original film, the romantic tension between Claire and Owen is matched by the tension created by a teenager and younger sibling who are in grave danger but reveal themselves to be unexpectedly resourceful and brave. In this chapter, it is Claire’s two nephews, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins). Zach is a teenager who is too cool for even this adventure and makes decisions that put him and his brother in grave danger. Gray, on the other hand, is a savant in dinosaur knowledge and is thrilled to go with his big brother to his aunt’s world. The tension of their adventure is heightened by the nervousness of their mother, Karen (Judy Greer), and the marital struggle she is having with their father.

People experienced great fear due to the damage caused by scientific discoveries of the past century, and it is clear that our artists are playing on these fears. What we will do with our new scientific understanding of genetic codes and our increasing ability to manipulate them is unclear. That we will create a dinosaur that can combine the unique qualities of many other animals’ DNA as well as fish DNA is unlikely, nor is it likely that we would expect such an animal to make a good military weapon. But that doesn’t squelch our fears, for we all know how foolish humanity has been and seems to continue to be. We can only hope that morality and compassion will govern the use of scientific discoveries of the future.


» Is the premise of the movie that “science is the handmaiden of military dominance and corporate greed”?

Or, is the premise that despite our best intentions, humans cannot control science?
Or, is it that the park is gambling on science to boost its attendance and revenues?
Or, is it that the government has high jacked the project for its own military intentions?
Or, is it that people experience great fear due to the damage caused by scientific discoveries?

» If you had responsibility to make sure that the gate receipts increase at Jurassic World, would you do whatever it takes to titillate an unpredictable public? Why or why not? How do you think such a profit motive impacts the actual decisions of corporate leaders?

» The ability of Claire to rise to the occasion was all the more entertaining because it was unexpected. How have you surprised yourself or others by stepping up to a demanding situation that required skills and abilities you hadn’t previously demonstrated?

» The care of Zach for his younger brother when they were in danger was matched by his lack of wisdom in getting him into trouble in the first place. How have your family members or friends gotten you into difficult situations, and how did they help you get out of them? Or were you on your own to solve these problems yourself?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.