3.5 out of 5 stars (above average)
I am baffled by the critical reception to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Sitting at an unbelievable 51% critics rating on Rottentomatoes.com, reviewers are claiming this entry is stale, unimaginative, and lacking the magic of its predecessors. I completely disagree with those criticisms and believe the film actually improves the series by being darker, scarier, and providing all the expected dino-action without sacrificing the heart and character of this franchise. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom should leave moviegoers totally satisfied with action, thrills, and a scarily plausible plot in today’s world.
The film picks up 3 years after the events of Jurassic World. Now that the raptor’s out of the bag, the world is debating over the creature’s rights, with an active volcano threatening to sink Isla Nublar. Scientist Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, sans high heels) and dino trainer Owen (the eternally awesome Chris Pratt) are called into action by elderly Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who promises to relocate the creatures to a sanctuary safe from pesky humans. Little do they know this expedition will lead to a conspiracy that will change human life forever.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom absolutely delivers as a summer blockbuster. The story feels realistic, the characters have developed a bit, and the action is some of the best you’ll see this summer. The effects are still astonishing and mix flawlessly with the dedicated human actors, who continue to sell the outlandishness. Newcomer Isabella Sermon is also great as Lockwood’s young daughter. She’s cute, likable, and believably terrified when called upon, all the more impressive when you realize it’s her first acting role. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard continue to have wonderful chemistry, and the climax is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
The film has a few problems that hold it back from being one of the greats. Rafe Spall’s human villain simply lacks a threatening screen presence and is one of the weakest baddies this year. The writing for his character isn’t amazing, but I was more taken in by Wayne Knight with his goofy shaving cream can in the original than by this guy. Knight was enticing in his greed, but this guy is so milquetoast that he comes off more like one of those 90’s villains who wants to close the rec center than a manipulative businessman. Worse still, Toby Jones appears as a secondary bad guy, and is much more engaging. I either would have made Jones the main villain or recast Spall with David Cross (Tobias from Arrested Development). There’s also some mediocre aging make-up and weak explanation for Sermon’s accent, but my complaints end there.
These problems are minor in the grand scheme of things. We come to these movies for the dinosaurs and characters, and we get great results with both. While it doesn’t match the original classic, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a surprisingly solid sequel with great action, good characters, and the possibility for future adventures. Also look out for Jeff Goldblum in the beginning and end returning as Dr. Ian Malcolm, and BD Wong as Dr. Wu. This is one attraction you need to see up close.
Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Science Fiction Violence and Peril