2015 - The Year of the Dinosaur

The Dinosaurs returned from extinction this weekend with a Jurassic World box office clean-up of $208M domestically. Universal Pictures sang cha-ching all the way to the bank, and Avengers Age of Ultron was dethroned as the year's biggest hit. (Frankly, I didn't think that could be done.) But, apparently dinosaurs are not as extinct as we thought.

The film starred Chris Pratt, (Guardians of the Galaxy) Bryce Dallas Howard, (The Help) Vincent D’Onofiro, (The Judge) and Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi). In the original story park visionary John Hammond, dreamed of one day opening a theme park for his dinosaurs with millions of visitors per year. Fast forward 20 years to the fully realized Jurassic World – a place where visitors have the opportunity to be up close and personal with the prehistoric amphibians. 

The park has been open successfully for 10 years, but now the public has grown bored with the current attractions, so something spectacular is needed to kick up public interest levels. The genetic scientists engineer the ultimate franken-dinosaur, Indominus Rex, a beast so superior to all the other creatures, that he is able to rationalize and adapt in behavior. The park officials planned to unveil their bigger, badder monster to the amazement of the crowds when the unthinkable happens.

Chris Pratt muscled his way through the picture, channeling Indiana Jones, and took to the part of Owen, the park's animal trainer like a kid in the wade pool. Owen has spent years training the intelligent velociraptors to obey him, and this experience has taught him to respect the dinosaurs as a living species. When franko-dino breaks loose at the park, it is Owen they seek out to put the lid on it before mayhem ensues. It was so easy to get behind Pratt’s humorous "I got this" character, as he tackled ambitious scientists, and self-interested bureaucrats. No real acting was required, but come on...we don't watch dinosaur films for award winning performances. Pratt was believable, fun and highly watchable in the part.

Dallas Bryce Howard was slightly shy of believable in the part of park manager who runs it without any clue as to what goes on behind the scenes, much less possess any working knowledge of the park’s prehistoric occupants. Pratt played off her ditsy persona, and thankfully, rescued her character from complete eye-rolling boredom. Vincent D’Onofiro was a credible henchman consumed with greedy self-interest as he squares off against Pratt, but we never quite know who he’s working for. Nevertheless he made for a nice baddie for fans to route against. Bollywood megastar Irrfan Khan was enjoyable as the executor of John Hammond’s legacy, whose job it is to keep the dream alive. It was fun to see Khan (whom I’ve seen in a few Bollywood films) in an American film role again.

The film was slow in the earlier minutes; okay, so I wasn’t really interested in the story until Chris Pratt took to the screen in a show of cheeky splendor. He was definitely the tent pole that held the story line and the action together. But, once the action kicked in, it was a glorious thrill ride of suspense, fun and twisty moments.

Steven Spielberg took a step back on this film to allow Colin Trevorrow to grow his director wings. It paid off. Trevorrow took a popular leading actor, a quasi-decent story, breathtaking cinematography and some off-the-charts special effects, and crafted it into a blockbuster that blew apart every opening box office weekend in history with $500M worldwide. Now that’s how it’s done. 

With a Lego movie, a Marvel juggernaut, and a prehistoric blockbuster under his belt, I’d say it’s time for Mr. Pratt to pick up the hat and crack the whip in another sorta well known movie franchise - what!


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