I’m not the most objective critic when it comes to the “Jurassic Park” franchise. The original movie came out when I was 15 as my lifelong fascination with dinosaurs and Steven Spielberg coalesced into blowing my pubescent mind. I saw it seven times in the theater.
I freely admit that the bulk of the subsequent movies aren’t exactly great works of western cinema, but as long as they check that basic box of dinosaurs eating people, I will happily and eagerly show up to watch.
The franchise got a shot in the arm with “Jurassic World,” which surpassed everyone’s expectations and became a massive hit thanks primarily to Chris Pratt’s charm and Bryce Dallas Howard’s high heels. And let’s not forget a host of nameless extras running around the island waiting to become dino-kibble.
Naturally, success breeds sequels as Pratt and Howard return for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” This time the action is driven by the fact that the island where the dinosaurs roam is under threat from a dormant volcano that has suddenly become active.
The gang returns on a mission to rescue the dinosaurs, but as you would expect, things don’t go exactly to plan.
“Fallen Kingdom” was directed by J.A. Bayona, a Spanish director with a highly-accomplished track record with films like “The Impossible” and “A Monster Calls.” Here he keeps the action coming as the movie bounces from thrilling set-piece to thrilling set-piece.
Pratt and Howard have good chemistry and do a fine job of keeping us emotionally invested in all of the computer-generated dino-carnage on the screen.
By all metrics, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” meets my very low bar of sitting and watching dinosaurs run around eat people in new and exciting ways.
Beyond that, what’s interesting about this movie is that it actually throws out some complicated themes surrounding technology and morality which takes it into much deeper waters than your typical summer blockbuster dares to tread.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” proves that in the right hands, even a 20-year-old franchise can find something new and interesting today.
In the end, this is some well-trod territory, as even the T-Rex has to be wondering how many times he can conveniently show up to save the day. But if we have to be sequeled to death as every drop of originality gets drained from every successful franchise, I choose to march down the path to creative extinction with my dino-buddies. They at least know the way.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.