'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Los Angeles Premiere

© Sipa USA

Movie review: 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'

The film doesn't live up of the standards of the 1993 original or even the three sequels.

June 22, 2018 - 6:00 am

By Bill Wine

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Dinosaurs continue to fascinate us — maybe because they're big, they're fierce, and they're dead.

And maybe it should come as no surprise that we're into our second movie trilogy that finds them back on the scene.

That means that we've had four movies already in the Jurassic Park franchise that emerged from the novel by Michael Crichton, a gaggle of remarkably and consistently high quality, both magical and thrilling.

And if the films haven't exactly evolved, at least they've succeeded and thrived.

Well, installment No. 5 doesn't quite live up of the standards of the 1993 original or even the three sequels.

But it's competent, its arresting, it's technically impressive, and it's unlikely to be the final entry in the series.

"Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom," the sequel to 2015's "Jurassic World," hits the ground stomping, bringing a joy in its own execution and an obvious confidence in the amount of fun there is to be had.

Once again, the special effects manage to be routinely spectacular and seamless, but without stealing focus from the narrative.

Once again, the slow-build suspense of the first half delivers us to the doorstep of the film's new-wrinkle second half, about which we will remain spoiler-free silent, except to say that this creature feature does become for a stretch what you might call a gothic melodrama.

And once again, we are turned into wide-eyed, appreciative 10-year-olds.

The premise: In the previous installment, the cloned hybrid dinosaurs created by scientists broke free of their enclosures on the tropical island of Isla Nubar, so the people evacuated, leaving the dinos to roam free.

But, four years later, when the new film is set, the island's dormant volcano roars to life, threatening to wreak lethal havoc.

Should the people responsible for bringing the dinosaurs back in the first place try to save their endangered species? Apparently, raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt, terrifically charismatic) and former operations manager Clare (Bryce Dallas Howard, wisely trading in those controversial heels for an action heroine's more sensible boots), returning from the last film, think so and attempt to rescue the dinosaurs that remain.

Along the way, Owen sets out to find Blue, the lead raptor, and discovers a conspiracy that has planetary implications.

Spanish director J.A. Bayona ("The Orphanage," "The Impossible," "A Monster Calls") works from a screenplay by executive producer Colin Trevorrow, who directed "Jurassic World," and Derek Connolly that addresses the chaos that ensued when the promised theme park opened in the last installment, by the end of which the park was in ruins and the dinosaurs were roaming free.

"JW:FK" is visually commanding, moderately suspenseful, and appropriately PG-13 scary, incorporating mild horror elements along with vigorous action, and adroitly mixing CGI and animatronics to keep the stimulating illusions coming.  

But among the elements that keep the film from being transcendant are the slightly excessive running time, the overly insistent musical score, and the minimal chemistry between leads Pratt and Howard.

Interestingly, this may be one of those unusual cases in which viewers new to the series are more appreciative and entertained than the franchise faithful.

So we'll rescue 2-1/2 stars out of 4. In the respectable escapist sequel, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the kingdom has fallen, but it can get up. And does. But not quite so steadily this trip.