Review of Jurassic World; Entourage

Jurassic World has it all, as rampaging dinosaurs chow down on theme park visitors and employees alike, while Vincent D’Onofrio gets to chew up a lot of scenery.

And yet, one is left with an empty feeling in the pit of one’s stomach.

It starts with the bare bones plot, as two stubbornly unengaging siblings (whose parents are enroute to getting a divorce) are sent to spend the holidays with distant Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is oh so busy as the manager of the very remote theme park Jurassic World. They’re feeling a little gloomy, since Claire doesn’t have time to personally chaperone them, but little do they know that Claire’s got her own problems, what with troublesome Velociraptors (only trainer Chris Pratt can get through to them), a dangerously meddlesome security head (D’Onofrio ), some secret experimentation (courtesy of B.D. Wong) and finally a genetically-modified dinosaur who was left without the “play nice with humans” gene.

At approximately twenty-seven minutes in, this “Indominus rex” decides to flex its muscle and animal cunning, leaving the hapless customers and park personnel in a perpetual frenzy as it releases more creatures to make appetizers of the visitors. Of course, the two sullen young lads are placed squarely in harm’s way, while a contrite and somewhat desperate Claire, accompanied by an intrepid Pratt (who must have been wishing that his lines had contained a quarter of the wit of Guardians of the Galaxy), put themselves in harm’s way to locate them.

While the film has one or two amusing moments, many of the action sequences (and most of the characters’ demises) are strictly by the book, the leads and supporting players alike are so lightly sketched that they make cardboard look weighty, and one can’t even take a rooting interest in the budding romance between Pratt and Howard because, let’s face it—in the cold light of day, she’s headed for the slammer. Besides, the CGI effects somehow lack the power and grandeur of the original Jurassic Park, as the movie about a theme park becomes in essence, a theme park ride—a little lengthier, but with not much more staying power.

Vince, Ari, and the boys are back in town as Entourage finally hits the big screen, only now Vince (Adrian Grenier) wants to direct and Ari Gold, now a studio head, gives him the go-ahead. Flash forward eight months and Vince is over-budget, so the boys and Ari are forced to contend with Texas father and son financiers (Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment) to get some finishing money. The big mystery is will Vince’s Jekyll/Hyde reboot be any good? In the meantime, Eric (Kevin Connolly) copes with erstwhile ex-girlfriend Sloan’s pregnancy, multi-millionaire Turtle makes a play for fighting Ronda Rousey, while big brother Johnny rails against being handed a ticket to Has-been-land.

It takes a little while for Vince and the boys to recapture their rhythm (even Jeremy Piven’s Ari is a little muted at first), but once they find it, the script provides very little that’s fresh, and the one hundred minute running time accentuates that. There are lengthy party scenes and lots of female talent on display, but even more than in the series, one might perceive these to be thoroughly gratuitous. In addition, Vince, Eric, Johnny and Turtle are for the most part, side players to the main action involving Ari’s strenuous efforts to thwart Osment’s attempt to sabotage Vince’s movie. Besides Piven (who makes up lost ground as the movie unfolds), Kevin Dillon’s Johnny Drama comes off best, particularly in an audition scene containing other would-be household names. The boys do have their moments, and some of the guest star appearances pack some punch (including producer Mark Wahlberg), so that Entourage can be fairly enjoyable, as long as you don’t expect too much.