150614jurassic-world-posterA sequel that takes place 22 years after the original “Jurassic Park” (and released 22 years after the first movie as well), “Jurassic World” is an entertaining thriller packed with stunning visuals, exciting sequences and plenty of homages to the first film, which helped launch what is now one of the biggest movie franchises in Hollywood history.

“Jurassic World” is also jam-packed with worldview messages, some of which are intriguing, others trite, but none of which really pack enough punch to make the film anything more than summer popcorn fun.

This film takes audiences back to Isla Nubar off the coast of Costa Rica, where in “Jurassic Park,” zillionaire investor John Hammond built a theme park based on cloned dinosaurs brought “back to life.” The first film was a clear warning against playing God with Mother Nature, as the terrible lizards wreak havoc on the island, killing nearly everyone at the park.

In “Jurassic World,” that theme park has been rebuilt to Disney-like proportions, simply with more beefed up security. The folks backing the park apparently haven’t learned their lesson.

This time, however, the park is fully operational, with over 22,000 visitors on the island, when one of the park’s experimental projects gets loose and threatens to kill even more people than the first film. It’s up to actors Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, with some dubious interference from Vincent D’Onofrio, to stop tens of thousands from being slaughtered.

While the script in this one is nothing special, if all you’re looking for on a hot, summer night is an air-conditioned thrill ride that transports you to another world and keeps you on the edge of your seat, makes you laugh some, makes you jump some and doesn’t require you to think too hard (in fact, if you do, it might spoil the ride), “Jurassic World” may well be the best ticket in town. It’s at least all that and more.

From a worldview perspective, a few key themes jump out in “Jurassic World.”

The first, as you’d expect, comes from several lines about evolution, survival of the fittest and stuff happening tens of millions of years ago. Duh, it’s a dinosaur movie.

The second is a consistent theme about treating animals as valuable, living things and not just commodities or “assets” to be managed. This is repeated often enough to leave an impression, but not enough to feel like a PETA commercial.

The third theme comes from the villain of the movie, who is not actually a rampaging dinosaur, but a stock, Hollywood stereotype of major corporations colluding with the military and not caring how many lives they have to sacrifice to make a weapon or a profit. These theme is so played out and tired in Hollywood, it hardly leaves an impression anymore, but it does reinforce a narrative that thinking audiences shouldn’t just swallow without chewing first. With a steady diet of this stuff, it’s no wonder the younger generation is so enamored with the Ron Paul wing of the GOP and the Occupy wing on the left.

Yet a fourth theme focuses on the issue of control. Now, the original “Jurassic Park” (thanks in large part to the memorable performance of actor Jeff Goldblum) delivered a strong message about the arrogance of man to think he could keep nature under control. “Jurassic World” doesn’t really have the script or the acting chops to deliver a message that powerful, but the issue does raise its head again, ominously through the line, “These people never learn.”

Finally – and this is the most novel of the themes – “Jurassic World” takes a shot at the dogged pursuit of “progress” for progress’ sake. I put progress in quotes, because it actually uses that word, a surprising choice to use such a sacred cow’s holy name. Evolution-based films like this often preach “progress” as an inevitable driving force, and usually a good one. “Progress” is core to the mantra of the political left, even forms the heart of the word “progressive.” Yet here’s “Jurassic World,” saying maybe it’s time to put the brakes on progress and examine whether this “progress” is actually a good thing.

“Progress always wins,” one character states in the film.

“Maybe progress should lose for once,” comes the reply.

The exchange comes at a moment in the film where you’d normally hear the moral conflict, making it a significant piece of dialogue … but to be honest, no piece of dialogue in this thrill ride is really all that significant. It is, after all, all about the dinosaurs – how cool they are, how scary they are, how precious they are and how much havoc they can cause on screen.

“Jurassic World” isn’t nearly as well made or thematically profound as “Jurassic Park” overall, but for sheer wow factor – especially in 3D – and entertainment value, it’s definitely in the same park (pun fully intended).

Content advisory:

  • “Jurassic World,” rated PG-13, contains roughly 25 profanities and obscenities, a few of them strong.
  • The movie has no nudity or sex scenes. It does, however, contain a lewd gesture and implication, a kiss, a bit of cleavage, and a female character running around in a tank top with an obviously intentional, heavy glisten of sweat.
  • The movie is significantly more violent than the first “Jurassic” film, as the dinosaurs get loose in a fully attended park. Dozens of people are injured, killed and/or eaten. Dozens of dinosaurs are seen mauled, bleeding and dying. In one almost comically over-the-top sequence, a character’s body is seen tossed around like a rag doll between dinosaurs. Gunfire, chase scenes, explosions and a punch also play a significant part in the action.
  • Outside of references to evolution, there are no significant religious or occult references in the film.

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