Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Review: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
Twenty-five years ago “Jurassic Park” charmed us with a sense of wonderment about our world, its mysterious history and tantalizing future, while also reminding us about the unbound limits of mankind’s capacity for avarice and power-mongering. It made our hearts swell, but also left us feeling quite small.
Now here is “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the sequel to the reboot, and the middle of a second planned trilogy. Not a one has lived up to the majesty of the original, though the previous one, starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, brought a welcome sense of humor and adventure to the proceedings.
It was fun, but forgettable -- quite literally. All I recalled was Pratt smirking and Howard incredulously clip-clopping around in high heels during the action scenes. I had to refresh myself on the plot of “Jurassic World” in preparation for the follow-up.
It’s equally forgettable, but not as much fun.
As you may (or not) recall, the theme park featuring genetically resurrected dinosaurs had been running for years after the initial disaster, until more disaster came and the entire island of Isla Nubla, off the coast of Costa Rica, was abandoned. The fearsome reptiles were contained, or so everyone thought. But now the dormant volcano is about to blow and result in a second extinction of the dinosaurs.
Despite the number of people that have been chomped, eviscerated or swallowed whole by dinos, a worldwide animal rights movement wants to save them. Leading the cause is Claire Dearing (Howard), the corporate suit who ran the old park but found her soul, due in part to a romance with Owen Grady (Pratt). He’s a dinosaur behaviorist who had formed a connection with the velociraptors, especially one named Blue.
Rushing in to save the day is Sir Lockwood (James Cromwell), a super-rich old guy who supposedly was the partner of the Richard Attenborough character from the first movie. He wants to scoop up the dinos and take them to a new island where they can live in peace, without tourists gawking or scientists prodding.
(How we got through four other films without ever hearing about Lockwood, I’ll leave up to the vagaries of script men Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow. The latter directed the last film, but turns over the chair to J. A. Bayona.)
Lockwood’s right-hand man, the soft-voiced Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), recruits Claire and Owen to return to the island to help round up and protect the creatures. But we only have to take one look at the guy leading the security force, Ken Wheatley, played by ol’ “Buffalo Bill” himself, Ted Levine, to know something’s up.
Justice Smith plays Franklin, an excitable young computer scientist, while Daniella Pineda is Zia, a puckish “paleoveterinarian” who somehow is a dinosaur doctor without ever having actually seen one. Jurassic alums BD Wong and Jeff Goldblum turn up for cameos.
Isabella Sermon plays Maisie, the prerequisite little kid who screams their head off while being chased by a raptor. I rather liked Toby Jones, wearing an elaborate blond wig and an even more elaborate drawling accent, as a broker to international a-holes who want a piece of the dinosaur pie to themselves.
The movie gives Pratt surprisingly little to do; Claire is in the driver’s seat for most of the movie, except when they need the man to show up and start flinging testosterone around.
There are some decent action scenes, including a race against a wave of lava in one of those transparent rolling globe/vehicle things, which has a wet conclusion; and an extended chase with an “Indoraptor,” the latest/greatest new-and-improved deadly dinosaur strain.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” will make gobs of money, and we’ll get a sixth movie whether we want it or not, proving that not just fictional scientists are obsessed with cloning.