Movies: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones
Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Written by: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow—very loosely based on work by Michael Crichton
Universal, 2018
PG-13; 128 minutes
4 stars (out of 5)


I didn't read any reviews before going to see this movie, but I did know in an abstract way that the critics didn't like it and that it had a low score on Rotten Tomatoes. Which may be why I actually enjoyed this movie as much as I did. I had low-to-moderate expectations and yet JW:FK entertained me plenty. It might not hold up to scrutiny, but I don't much care about that.

If you've seen the trailers, you get the gist: a volcano on Isla Nublar is on the brink of erupting, and either the dinos go with it or they need to be captured and transported elsewhere. That turns out to be only a fairly brief part of the story, however. [Don't read the rest of this paragraph if you don't want spoilers. The remainder of the post is safe.] There is, of course, a greedy person involved who plans to auction said dinosaurs to the highest bidders and start a new genetic lab, etc. And there's a precocious girl named Maisie, etc. etc. So the story becomes: save the dinos from the island, then save them from the greedy men, and also save yourselves from the engineered indoraptor (indomitus rex + raptor) . . .

The movie wants to case all this in philosophy about whether it's better to let some things die. The good of the few vs. the good of the many. And also: how do you put the genie back in the bottle. But there's so much action going on that the film can't sustain that line of inquiry. This isn't a philosophy class. It's a summer blockbuster. We've come to see dinosaurs eat bad guys, so get on with it.

Still, there are moments of pathos. Two, to be exact. I have yet to decide how I feel about them. Are they overwrought? Perhaps. Would I take them out? I don't know.

JW:FK borrows liberally from earlier movies in the franchise, from plot to visual elements. It feels cobbled together in a way, but that didn't bother me. It might other people though as on the whole the film feels a little like it lacks originality. My oldest son said this one feels like a horror movie, and there are definitely some horror elements. I suppose that's Bayona's doing.

And whoever wrote this movie really hates ladders.

The final result is something that skews a little Planet of the Apes? Which isn't a franchise I enjoy, so I'm not sure I'm down for that. But since my bar is apparently lower than most people's . . . I mean, I laughed and clapped every time a dinosaur ate someone, so, you know . . . I'm definitely buying into the bread and circus thing, I guess. It's all I really want from these movies, and this one delivered.

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