JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (8 out of 10) Directed by J.A. Bayona; Written by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow; Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda; Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril; Running time 128 minutes; In wide release June 22, 2018. 

Kelly: Let’s face it. No other film in the Jurassic franchise can live up to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 dino-sized achievement Jurassic Park. It just can’t happen. That film is sheer perfection and I’ll take a raptor claw to anyone who says otherwise. 

That being said, the franchise was once again brought to life with 2015’s Jurassic World. After nearly 15 years in hibernation, dinosaurs once again roamed the earth, and park-goers drank at Margaritaville while Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) ran around in high heels. The film brought fresh blood and new characters to the dormant series, and though responses were mixed, life, uh, found a way. Which brings us to the new creation Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I thought there was little to experience after seeing the trailer, but boy, was I wrong. Minor spoilers ahead, so consider yourself warned.

Jurassic World has fallen into decay, and the dinosaurs roam free on Isla Nublar. But the impending threat of a volcanic eruption of making-dinosaurs-extinct-again proportions has created a media firestorm. Should they be killed in this act of God? Do we owe them protection after bringing them back? And what about the children?!

Claire has become an activist for the dinosaurs, and when an opportunity presents itself to return to the island and save them, she jumps at the chance. But it also means reuniting with ex-boyfriend Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), whose expertise is needed to locate and capture Blue, the remaining raptor that he trained from infancy.

And because this is a Jurassic film, all hell breaks loose. I honestly was on the edge of my seat at some points. Volcanic rock shooting into the air, lava flowing dangerously close to our hero. Both he and Claire are far more appealing in this latest installment, with snappy banter and moments of genuine tenderness. And did I mention no high heels? 

Unfortunately the two “experts” (a paleo vet and computer expert) that join them on the adventure are walking clichés, lacking in depth or likeability. Compare them to Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson) and Muldoon (Robert Peck) in the original Jurassic Park. Limited screen time, but strong presences onscreen. A combination of a brilliant direction, fantastic performances, and a tight script that provided lines that gave their characters breath.

But unfortunately the majority of the characters in Fallen Kingdom fall into the same trap as the vet and the computer hacker. Generic characters with single-minded focus.

And there are too many overt nods to the original. It was cute and nostalgic in Jurassic World, but we’ve seen many of these elements before, and done better.

But the heart-pounding moments of wondering where the dinos were and what they would do next made up for the repetition of tropes.

Overall, it was a fun, thrilling adventure. Highly recommend. And seeing Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) again was a thrill in itself. 

8 out of 10

 

Adam McDonald: As Kelly said, the original Jurassic Park is a classic, and it would take a monumental effort to try to top it. Even over two decades later, it still holds up and stands as the definitive dinosaur movie and is also one of my favorite films of all time. So going in, I knew that I was going to have to dampen my bias in order to be as objective as possible, and that it was going to be difficult.

Fallen Kingdom is by no stretch of the imagination a great film; in fact, I would say it’s not even a good film. Glaring plot holes are scattered throughout the narrative, there is spotty CGI all over the place, the characters are one dimensional and overall a lot of stuff just doesn’t make sense. But I walked out with the biggest smile on my face and absolutely loved it!

All we want to see in a Jurassic movie is bad-ass dinosaurs fighting each other and eating people, and we get that here. No one is going in expecting Citizen Kane or a movie that is going to reach through the screen and positively impact our lives. The fact that there is a stupid plot twist or that everything is pretty much bat-sock crazy doesn’t matter in the long run when we get a raptor-whisperer and a T-Rex munching down on more hapless villains. Also, how is it that in every Jurassic movie, the T-Rex always knows JUST when to swoop in at the end to save the day and send the audience off with its iconic roar?

The epitome of a summer popcorn movie that must be enjoyed with your brain turned off. Take the kids (age depends on if they’ve seen and enjoyed the previous movies), grab some snacks and enjoy this movie like the roller coaster it is. Just don’t try to think about ANYTHING that takes place, because it will all fall apart with even the most cursory of second glances. Oh, and stay through the credits because there is as brief stinger at the end!

8 out of 10

Previous Post: Incredibles 2: Progress Is Key

Next Post: An Interview with K Arsenault Rivera

Tags: Jeff Goldblum , Bryce Dallas Howard , Chris Pratt , Dinosaurs , Jurassic Park