Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

C+ SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom runs two hours and 10 minutes, and if you bracket the first five minutes and the last five minutes, any random five minutes in the remaining two hours are probably more enjoyable than any random five minutes of the previous Jurassic World movie, and probably any five minutes of Jurassic Park 3.

There are images worth looking at, for one thing. Visually, not much from Colin Trevorrow’s 2015 Jurassic World has stuck with me beyond Chris Pratt holding three velociraptors at bay with hand signals and steady nerves (and later absurdly cruising alongside the raptor pack on a motorcycle).

Directed by J. A. Bayona. Chris Pratt, BD Wong, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Daniella Pineda, Justice Smith, Rafe Spall, Jeff Goldblum, Bryce Dallas Howard, Isabella Sermon. Universal.

Artistic/Entertainment Value

Moral/Spiritual Value

-1

Age Appropriateness

Teens & Up

MPAA Rating

PG-13

Caveat Spectator

Much intense menace and stylized dinosaur-related violence, including a number of deaths; some cursing and brief profanity.

J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage; The Impossible) has a better eye and a gift for atmosphere and creates painterly, sometimes powerful images. He also displays a Spielbergian gift for pushing the audience’s buttons. I jumped and laughed repeatedly, sometimes in the same five minutes.

As the five-minute stretches pile up, though, the movie goes back to the same tricks too often. The “bigger fish” trope is used at least twice too often, and the kitchen cabinet door from the first film becomes a dumbwaiter door here that is used repeatedly.

Howard’s character, Claire Dearing, now a crusading conservationist, might as well be a different character from the buttoned-up sexist stereotype of the first film (she’s closer in spirit to her park ranger in Pete’s Dragon).

Eventually, all those five-minute stretches add up to two hours and 10 minutes that have to tell some kind of story that ought to be about something. Fallen Kingdom is a “fivequel” (or, if you prefer, a middle movie in a sequel trilogy) with nothing to say and no case for its own existence beyond brand momentum and the employability and photogenic looks of Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

If Fallen Kingdom did have something to say, it might be about environmentalism and exploitation of nature. After the disastrous collapse of the new Jurassic World theme park (and hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements), the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar are on their own — and facing extinction from the island’s volcanic activity (a plot point going back to the original Michael Crichton novel, so we can’t ding the filmmakers for it).

Action, Horror, Monstrous, Science Fiction