The movie is essentially a remake of Jurassic Park (1993) that acknowledges the original. It's a sequel really, an almost direct one, skipping the two sequels between 1993 and now, but strangely I had the same problem with this movie as I did with Insurgent. It basically has the same ending as its predecessor. The movie also suffers from the same problem as the recent Mad Max: Fury Road. It doesn't suffer as much because the titular character isn't as sidelined, but technically the titular character are the dinosaurs, pure CGI creations, which is fine, but this isn't Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie) stars as Owen Grady, an animal trainer who works at the resurrected, amusement park that features genetically-modified and artificially-grown dinosaurs. Once the dinosaurs break free, Owen is called to help with the rescue. The problem is that he doesn't really rescue anyone, or at least the people he was asked to save, he doesn't. They save themselves. As such, Pratt's character could have been removed, much like Tom Hardy's character in Mad Max: Fury Road, and nothing would have been hurt.
Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help and The Village) co-stars as Claire, the manager of the amusement park who is uptight and all about being prim and proper, as well as focusing on the business and numbers rather than family or other living things. Her two nephews, Zach and Gray, visit and she pawns them off or basically ignores them. Once the dinosaurs break free, Zach and Gray get lost in the park with fierce predators and Claire gets Owen to find and rescue them.
However, at each turn, Zach and Gray save themselves. They have to save themselves because they're mostly alone. Owen follows behind them but in reality does nothing that actually saves the two children at any point.
When the new dinosaur called the Indominus Rex attacks the kids, it's the eldest kid, Zach, played by Nick Robinson (Melissa & Joey), who is able to effectively hide them. It's Zach who is able to hot-wire a Jeep and drive them back all by himself. During two Velociraptor attacks, it's Gray, played by Ty Simpkins (Insidious and Iron Man 3), who comes up with the ideas to stop the ravenous dinosaurs, including the stun-gun, the hologram and "more teeth," which ultimately saves everyone.
Pratt's character is at best superfluous. At worse, he's completely unnecessary. Written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, the idea behind his character is to promote the notion of not thinking or treating the dinosaurs as dumb or simply vicious animals but trying to form a relationship with them. It's one step toward co-existence or more humane treatment.
Given the title of the film and a scene of a whale-like dinosaur performing in an aquarium, the movie invokes themes from the recent documentary Blackfish, which is highly critical of SeaWorld. Unfortunately, the movie mainly writes the dinosaurs as monsters who exist only to attack the humans instead of as independent animals with their own needs.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the attack of the Pterosaurs on the street crowd. It's simply a re-creation of the famous scene in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Except, the point of Hitchcock's film is to be a mindless and senseless attack of flying monsters. This film purports the dinosaurs to be smarter or a bit more intelligent. Yet, the film throws that out the window in order to affect most of its chaotic action.
The ending to this film feels really similar to the original. The original in fact ends with the two main adult characters and the two child characters being surrounded by three Velociraptors in the central building, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex comes to their rescue. Here, the two adult characters and the two children are surrounded by three Velociraptors and again after a few variations the T-rex rides in for the rescue.
The original's ending also concluded with the idea that the dinosaurs would stay on the island. This one has a scene that indicates the opposite, clearly setting things up for a sequel. This is perhaps the difference between Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow who directs this. Spielberg stands alone, while Trevorrow is more of a cog in a wheel, as he stands mostly in Spielberg's shadow, trying to fit it as his own but not understanding why.
Two Stars out of Five. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril. Running Time: 2 hrs. and 4 mins.