The fourth installment in the dinos-run-amok series isn’t a reboot but might as well be, given the years elapsed since 2001’s third installment and the even greater cultural distance that’s opened up since Netscape Navigator introduced us to an internet festooned with banner ads. Chris Pratt is Owen, who gamely works his material as an animal handler performing requisite feats of derring-do, all while wielding an absurdly small rifle in the face of rampaging angrysauruses. Pratt’s innate aw-shucks everyman vibe nevertheless shines through; this is a guy who understands his place in the food chain, and right now his job is to keep the cash gushers nicely primed thank you very much.
Product placements are surprisingly both few and odd, coming primarily through a fleet of various luxury Mercedes that some brand manager thought appropriate for a remote tropical island, assuming that cachet would transfer seamlessly to the Whole Foods parking lots of Scarsdale. (On second thought the analogy might be better than it first appears, given the primal nature of the struggle in both places.) In a universe when 50 Cent can rep Glaceau’s VitaminWater to great commercial success, maybe Mercedes needs to outrun hybrid dinosaurs to stay relevant.
This isn’t a full-blown puncturing of the theme park fantasy (see: Shrek, original) but, chompasauruses notwithstanding, satire of the theme park experience is the closest the movie comes to being biting. Jurassic World has hints of Sea World meets Six Flags on Disney’s Main Street, with overpriced chain restaurants overrun by hordes of sheeple. These extras mill about waiting to feed a flock of newly-freed flying hubrisauruses, who have ostensibly been on restricted rations and take advantage of the jailbreak to gorge on doughy tourists. The underwhelmed announcer, the wide-eyed teenager entrusted with the safety of clueless people, line-skipping access for the island’s one-percenters – this world is peppered with digs at the sanitized, highly regulated environment of modern escapist parks.
As usual you’ll find one Indian actor in a main role, since that apparently suffices to rope in the cinema-going population of a nation of 1.3 billion. Per most spectacle movies these days the climactic scene ends with lots of stuff getting smashed up real good, but not before potential sequels zip away in an escape helicopter, where they can bide their time until they inevitably break out and tear through the nearest multiplex, having caught the scent of cash.