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'Jurassic World' clones some, not all, of original film's fun, reviews say

Solid popcorn movie or shameless retread? Critics weigh in on 'Jurassic World'

There is nothing that can't be brought back from extinction and improved upon with modern technology in the world of "Jurassic World," whether dealing with long-dead dinosaurs or a once-mighty film franchise.

Director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow's sequel to and functional reboot of Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic "Jurassic Park" picks up 22 years later with a fully operational park, a genetically modified Indominus rex to up the ante and a cast that includes Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

So how does it stack up? According to most movie critics — though certainly not all of them — "World" is a solid summer popcorn movie, even if it doesn't match the heights of Spielberg's original.

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The Times' Kenneth Turan calls "Jurassic World" a "family film with teeth. Lots of teeth." Even so, the movie "specializes in the genteel PG-13 scare, aiming to awe you with its dinosaur verisimilitude rather than shock you with too much blood on the tracks."

In that regard, Turan says, "World" is "the clear descendant" of "Park," but the new sequel "doesn't have the same impact as the initial film. You can't experience first love twice, and even though these CGI dinosaurs are doubtless more realistic than what's come before, the magic of those unprecedented moments is beyond recapturing."

USA Today's Brian Truitt says, "It's hard to suppress a big stupid grin watching Chris Pratt zip through the jungle on a motorcycle with his A-team of Velociraptors. The computer-generated dinosaurs of 'Jurassic World' … are just as cool as they were 22 years ago in 'Jurassic Park' — but it takes the equivalent of a Stone Age to actually get to the exciting parts."

In terms of the overall "Jurassic" franchise, Truitt writes, " 'World' is a monster step up from the two disappointing previous sequels, but is sorely missing the heart and inherent wonder of the classic first film."

Less impressed is the New York Times' Manohla Dargis, who writes, "There's more flab than muscle packed on this galumphing franchise reboot, which, as it lumbers from scene to scene, reminds you of what a great action god Steven Spielberg is. Too bad he didn't take the reins on this."

Dargis continues, "As is the case with every filmmaker hired to lead an industrial brand to box-office domination, Mr. Trevorrow was principally tasked with delivering 'Jurassic World' in salable shape, which he has done. Actors repeat their bad lines without smirking, and digital dinosaurs stomp, scatter and gulp amid product placements for Triumph motorcycles and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville chain." Ultimately, "Blowing minds rather than, you know, telling a good story is the driving imperative."

The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle gives the new film more credit, writing, " 'Jurassic World' matches the wit and pace of a 1990s monster movie with the attitudes and anxieties of 2015, and the result is a film that's as smart as it is exciting."

The action scenes are "imaginative and suspenseful and gradually take on a demented exuberance," LaSalle continues, and "although the film ultimately lacks that extra something that Spielberg often brings — the sense that the action is somehow emblematic of something grand in the human spirit — the movie has a caustic wit that will do in its place."

In one of the more scathing reviews, the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern says the real dinosaurs are "the filmmakers and studio executives who perpetrated this lumbering edition" of the "Jurassic" franchise. "World," he says, is "clumsily" directed from "a remarkably incoherent script" (credited to Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Trevorrow).

Here's Morgenstern's coup de grace: "The film is being shown in both 2-D and 3-D flavors. I saw the 2-D version, so I may have missed something, but I'd say the ideal number of dimensions in which to see 'Jurassic World' is none."

Most critics, however, are on the same page as the Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek. She calls the new movie "pretty good fun. Especially for a here-today, gone-tomorrow summer blockbuster, the picture is better-crafted than it needs to be: If you ignore some extraneous plot threads, and the stop-the-presses revelation that, in the end, 'what really matters is family,' 'Jurassic World' hangs together surprisingly well."

In the end, Zacharek says, "it's only the critters that matter. As far as visual splendor goes, 'Jurassic World' is a quality product, with all the slickness — and soullessness — that implies. … The picture is sleek and impressive, although, as with its predecessors, how much you enjoy it will depend on your tolerance for watching dinosaurs chomp down on terrified humans."

Bon appetit, Indominus.

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