Wow! Dinosaurs! An erupting volcano! Chris Pratt!!
That’s your essential shopping list of why, despite getting a little long in the prehistoric tooth, ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ is still must-see summer entertainment. And no, the exclamation point after each facet isn’t a coincidence; director J.A. Bayona goes enthusiastically large with everything in the picture. When he gets to play with dinosaurs, he makes the game bigger, quicker and more furious than ever. When he gets to spit lava, he throws up that burning goo but good. And when it comes to casting, he leaves no doubt that Pratt is the star and puts his headliner in every conceivable situation to showcase as much.
So….what’s the problem with ‘Fallen Kingdom’? Not a whole lot if you’re in it for the adrenaline rush. But if you’re plunking down the bucks for a ticket, expecting something shiny and new – sorry kids. This sequel is, in all reality, a little bit of a mess.
But, oh what a gloriously visual, BUSTLING mess!
In ‘Fallen Kingdom’, the returning Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are encouraged to go back to Isla Nublar, the site of the defunct Jurassic World theme park, now home to an active volcano. In an expedition funded by an elderly industrialist (James Cromwell) – who of course has ties to the original Jurassic Park, hitting the essential note of somehow having to find a sentimental link to the birth of the franchise – the plan is to rescue to the dinosaurs from a second extinction by transporting them to a safe preserve that ISN’T about to explode.
Of course, things go awry (don’t they always?), and much of the second half of the film takes place closer to home. I can’t divulge exactly where the gang heads, dinosaurs included, but it’s at least an ATTEMPT at suspense, which should earn scriptwriters Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly a shred of credit. Oh, and a fresh new beast gets introduced here, something called a Indoraptor, so mean this thing makes the T-Rex seem cuddly by comparison.
Unfortunately, for fans of the series, the awe is long gone. Jaws will no longer drop, and that Spielberg magic now feels like a lot longer than 25 summers ago; it’s simply too much been-there, stepped-in-those-dino-droppings. That said, the entertainment factor is still present – just don’t expect it to be near as memorable.