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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018)

Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Jeff Goldblum, B.D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert Emms, Peter Jason, Kevin Layne, John Schwab, Sam Redford, Charlie Rawes, Patrick Crowley, Alex Dower, Honey Holmes, Neil Bishop, Philippa Thomas and Ronan Summers.

Screenplay by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly.

Directed by J.A. Bayona.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 128 minutes. Rated R.

Now five movies into the Jurassic films, it seems there is a bit of a panic among the filmmakers to keep making things bigger, faster, stronger. This is a bit of a conundrum, because with its dinosaurs the series has been all about bigger, faster, stronger. How much more can they do?

Truth is, none of the films are as good or enjoyable as the 1993 original Jurassic Park. Not even close. Each of the others had their moments, and the 2014 reboot Jurassic World was actually probably as close to the original – quality-wise – as they have come. (Perhaps that is because in many ways Jurassic World was simply a busier remake of the original.) Still, all of the follow-up films – Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Jurassic Park III, Jurassic World and now Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – have been spinning their wheels a bit, trying to create a better thrill ride, but not worrying so much about making a better movie.

In many ways, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a perfect 2018 crowd-pleasing blockbuster. Yet, at the same time, it feels a little cynical – pushing buttons and relying on jump scares and sentimentality rather than coming up with a complex storyline and interesting characters.

Like Jurassic World was a basic update of the first film, Fallen Kingdom is pretty much a parallel universe for the second film The Lost World, in which greedy corporate sorts exploit the dinosaurs, bring them back to the US and are eventually responsible for setting them loose on the civilized world. (Apologies if that feels like a spoiler, but that is shown straight out in the coming attractions trailers, so I don’t think I’m giving up any big secrets.)

Of course, in the storyline the world has only two options about the dinosaurs – move them or let them go extinct (again). You see, a heretofore unmentioned volcano is about to erupt on the island of Isla Nubar, home of the ill-fated Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, which is now again essentially reduced to rubble. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) begs in a congressional hearing for them to just let the dinosaurs die as nature intended.

However, Claire Deering (Bryce Dallas Howard) – formerly the head of Jurassic World and now a dinosaur rights advocate (yeah, you read that right) – feels a responsibility to keep the dinosaurs alive. Even though many of them have tried to kill her over the years.

She is approached to return to the island and help save dinosaurs by multi-millionaire Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the ill (and again, never-mentioned) former partner of Jurassic Park mastermind John Hammond. I mean, I get why they had to replace Hammond – Richard Attenborough died the year that Jurassic World came out and had ended his acting career years before, so they had to have another elderly character who tries to play God, even if he has basically good intentions.

No such good intentions are shared by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), the young man he has put in charge of the project. Once upon a time he may have been an idealist, now he only sees insane potential profit in saving the dinos.

Mills talks Claire into tracking down the dude-bro dinosaur whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Platt) – who she has apparently broken up with since the end of Jurassic World. Grady is the one man who has learned how to train dinosaurs, and he will be instrumental in helping to track them down, particularly Blue, the raptor that he brought up from a pup.

As he has shown in Jurassic World, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt makes a perfectly serviceable action hero, but a sort of bland one. He’s smart and funny, but honestly comes off as a bit too glib, like he’s channeling Bruce Willis in one of the Die Hard sequels.

Cue a whole bunch of action scenes of humans being hunted by dinosaurs, our heroes being double-crossed by mercenaries, and even a surprisingly melancholy shot of a brachiosaurus desperately trying to escape the lava flow as the volcano wipes out the island. And, of course, it’s not likely to go well when the bad guys decide to sell off the dinosaurs to a bunch of rare-animal collectors and underworld types who want to weaponize the awesome beasts.

The film ends by blatantly setting up the next sequel. Since it is apparently coming no matter what anyone says, I would like to make a helpful suggestion: More Jeff Goldblum! Only when he was on screen in his very limited cameo did Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom have a true pulse, a sense of intrigue and energy. Next time out, replace Pratt with Goldblum and watch the sparks fly.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 22, 2018.

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