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Dan's Review: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" keeps piling on

Jun 22, 2018 02:03PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - © 2018 Universal.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.

Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B. D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum.

Written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, based on characters by Michael Crichton.

Directed by J. A. Bayona.

GRADE: C+

REVIEW:

Wow, look, a dinosaur. Yeah, that’s the reaction I have to seeing large computer-generated images of giant creatures. CG is perhaps the coolest thing ever for movies, but it’s fast becoming passé, as in, almost every blockbuster movie has CG effects to the degree that you barely notice it. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the fifth “Jurassic” movie borne from the original Steven Spielberg 1993 classic based on Michael Crichton’s Novel. Back then CG dinosaurs were a new thing (Steven also integrated some incredible robotics in the original). And Spielberg could get away with a few plot shortcomings and gobbledygook science because we were so enthralled by the T-Rex. Plot matters when the “new dinosaur” smell wears off, though.

After the catastrophic events of the first JW film, Isla Nublar (the island off the coast of Costa Rica where the original and updated park were built), the dinosaurs have been abandoned to live out their own fate until an active volcano emerges, threatening to kill them off. It sounds like a convenient animal control measure to some, including Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, making a brief cameo), or at least a means for nature to take its course. Not so fast, say animal rights activists who want to save the dinos, including Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) JW’s former operations manager (who kind of messed things up, leading to the deaths and consequent park closure) who’s doing her penance lobbying Congress for funding to relocate the dinosaurs to a new safe habitat. Coming to her rescue is Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a dying bazillionaire who wants to fund the dino-rescue, with the assistance of his foundation manager Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). Lockwood is the former business partner of John Hammond (Richard Attenborough from the original Spielberg films) and helped develop the DNA cloning that made dinosaurs possible.  Eli’s insists that Claire enlist Own Grady (Chris Pratt) to help capture “Blue,” the uber-intelligent velociraptor he trained back on the island. They fly to the island, along with a few necessary nerds Zia and Franklin (Daniella Pineda and Justice Smith), a paleoveterinarian and an IT guy. They are met by a team of nasty men with guns (who really work for Eli) and begin to round up dinosaurs before the volcano erupts. The head nasty guy is Wheatley (Ted Levine), and you know he’s due for some dino-karma after he mistreats the animals. The volcano erupts and many dinosaurs are put on a boat bound for northern California, where Lockwood’s mansion/dinosaur research center is located. Claire, Owen and her team also make the journey only to discover a sinister plot to sell off the dinosaurs to the highest greedy bidders who want to use them for military purposes. They also discover that Dr. Wu (GD Wong) is working on a few dino-prototypes that could be even more dangerous. Owen, Claire and the rest of the “good guys” team up with Lockwood’s young granddaughter Maisy (Isabella Sermon) to try and save the dinosaurs from falling into evil hands. Chaos reigns, the dinos get loose, and well…you know what happens next.

As I wrote in my 2015 review of Jurassic World, the film studios can’t keep away from the irony of demonstrating the exact ethical dilemma (and wrong choices) at the center of the Jurassic movies – which finds its roots in Ian Malcolm’s observation as to why dinosaur creators are “… so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.” Yes, you can make more CG dinosaurs, but it seems the only driving factor is making more money instead of creating quality stories. Don’t worry. There is at least one more JW film to complete a trilogy in the works. Universal won’t stop until the mess up the universe.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has some scary and humorous moments, but they are few and far between in a story burdened by the same plot points of all other Jurassic movies. Yes, Chris Pratt is charming and Bryce Dallas Howard is a gifted actress and the dinosaurs look real – but the story and other cast of characters are paint-by-the-numbers, right down to the bully with a gun who torments the animals and the evil rich guys who all deserve to be ripped apart by a pissed off T-Rex or velociraptor (hope I didn’t spoil too much there, but subtlety is not a strong suit for these movies).

The conclusion of the JW franchise seems headed for some kind of ridiculous “Sharknado” scenario, with humankind’s existence in the balance as a host of giant monsters hurtles toward them. Sure, movies like that can be fun, but they can get kind of ridiculous if you keep piling on the dinosaurs.


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Trailer

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