They call her an “indominus rex.” She’s the one causing all the trouble in the jolly new summer movie winner “Jurassic World.”
You’ve never encountered that species name before – not even the last time you and your favorite young child were perusing his or her favorite dinosaur book. If you were sufficiently impressed in your own youth (who wasn’t?), you well remember the oldies but goodies – Tyrannosaurus rex, allosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, diplodocus, apatosaurus, pterodactyl and brachiosaurus.
And your favorite dino-loving kid will probably love telling you all about them, even the ones whose names aren’t familiar, like the gigantosaurus and supersaurus.
But ignominus rex? What’s that?
A new hybrid creature in “Jurassic World,” gene-spliced to be 50-feet long, bigger than a T-rex and full of genetic material from all sorts of other dinos (including a gigantosaurus) and one secret creature no one wants to talk about, not even the gene-splicing genius inventing all this (played by B.D. Wong, the kindly and trusted shrink we always loved in our living rooms on “Law & Order.”)
The Jurassic World folks are just about to spring the indominus rex on the theme-park crowd because “corporate” has been bedeviling the park hierarchy to “up the wow factor.” (And hence the revenue.) So says the park’s ultra-efficient director, all-dressed in power white (played by Bryce Dallas Howard).
When Owen, who oversees the park’s velociraptors, hears the news, he quite sensibly replies “you just went out and made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea.”
We in the audience know that of course. It’s why we’re so happy to be at this movie. We’re not dummies, you know?
Owen, to understate considerably, is not persuaded about the need for “upping the wow factor.” “They’re dinosaurs” he says. ‘That’s ‘wow’ enough.”
It certainly is for me.
Add to all that one more thing about indominus rex. When the mad scientists created her, they also made her a sibling.
And where’s that genetic partner now, you might ask?
She ate it.
At this point, most of us would be more than a little dubious about indominus rex as the star of the next new attraction at Jurassic World. That’s especially true for Owen (Chris Pratt), a fellow who thinks of himself as the alpha for his gang of four velociraptors, whom he has named Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo. He can actually make them purr in a kind of nasty, throaty, dinosaur way when he strokes their cheeks – while, of course, their jaws and razor-sharp teeth are clamped shut by a steel muzzle.
You don’t have to be a genius to suspect immediately that Owen is going to be the hero of “Jurassic World.” On the other hand, I wasn’t sure at first about Howard, that strikingly beautiful red-haired actress dressed in severe white playing Jurassic World’s COO.
It’s not encouraging that the directrix hasn’t seen her two nephews for several years, and doesn’t even know how old they are. When they arrive as her park guests, she fobs them off on an assistant. We might have the makings for the dinosaur equivalent of a late-night snack here, I thought.
But then, of course, I remembered that Howard is Ron Howard’s daughter and this movie was made by Amblin’, Steven Spielberg’s outfit. There’s no way Spielberg is going to turn his buddy’s daughter into a cupcake for dinos.
On the other hand, when Vincent D’Onofrio shows up as park security, with a gut overhanging his belt and talking about the wisdom of weaponizing the velociraptors, you can practically hear his clock ticking.
This is the fourth in the “Jurassic” series since Michael Crichton’s book originally married the King Kong and Frankenstein stories. Despite minimal originality, the Saturday matinee fun of the new movie is substantial. And while it’s certainly scary for small children, there isn’t so much of it that will turn large squadrons of them into quivering wrecks from nightmares. Good, solid parenting should allay all that.
After all, it’s the smallest member of this little band evading the indominus rex who comes up with the most important plan to re-establish peace and tranquility without more bloodshed.
I won’t tell you what the T-rex and the mosasaurus have to do with it but it’s a lot of fun to watch, of that you can be sure. And at the screening, it got vigorous audience applause.
No matter how much the bigger dolts in the movie business try to mystify it and exaggerate the difficulty of predicting box office, it’s not rocket science.
Everybody who made “Jurassic World” knew how much fun audiences would have, just as the makers of “San Andreas” did.
Creating a new dinosaur was, as Owen would say, “probably not a good idea.” Creating a movie about her definitely was.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Judy Greer Vincent D’Onofrio, B.D. Wong
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Running time: 123 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.
The Lowdown: The most troubled prehistoric theme park in Costa Rica invents a hybrid new dinosaur species and very bloody trouble.