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Back to the Island - 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Review

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Synopsis

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom begins with a mission to save the creatures of the now-shuttered Jurassic World park from a volcano that will eradicate animal life on Isla Nublar once it erupts. As the Senate debates whether or not to save the creatures, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), now working on dinosaur-saving efforts, hears from John Hammond's former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). He has devised a plan to move these animals to another nearby island.These plans are coordinated by Lockwood's business assistant, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) on behalf of the aging and ill man. Dearing coaxes Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to join her on the mission when she assures him that Blue, whom he raised, still lives. Claire also brings electronics expert and hacker Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and veterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Danela Pineda) to assist in the efforts. Mills provides this team with trained soldiers led by Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine).

On arrival at Isla Nublar, they round up a number of the dinosaurs, including Blue. Claire and Franklin assist by opening the gates that give man and beast unlimited access. Wheatley, though, has been given other orders by Mills once they capture Blue and retrieve a fossil of a dinosaur known as indomitus rex. Owen is shot by a tranquilizer dart, and Wheatley's forces leave him, Claire, and Franklin to die there. They manage their way back to the boat just as Wheatley's men and Zia leave. Instead of heading to the safe island, they head with the beasts to the Lockwood estate, where Eli has arranged an auction. When she hears auctioneer Gunnar Eversol (Toby Jones) talking about the event, Lockwood's ward, Maisie (Isabella Sermon) warns her guardian. When Benjamin confronts Eli, Eli takes steps to ensure neither Benjamin nor Maisie interfere with him. Owen and the others quietly try to stop the auction, but a commotion creates a grave danger for all.

Evaluation

The thought of dinosaurs living and roaming has always been an intriguing idea with regards to this film series. While Jurassic World director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow does not return to the director's chair in Fallen Kingdom, he and Jurassic World collaborator Derek Connolly team once again for the sequel. Their first effort has fun with the idea that someone could bond with a dinosaur, but this second effort descends into madness. What motivation, including money, would possess anybody to bring these creatures to the mainland? No amount of bonding with humans will ultimately interfere with their destructive nature. What's more, people flock to this auction as though the event were a big party to celebrate an inordinate amount of disposable income. Viewers might also ask themselves this: since pterodactyls were among the ancient creatures cloned by Dr. Henry Yu (B. D. Wong), why hasn't a single one of them found their way to the mainland since the events of Jurassic Park? The writers add one more level of madness with the story of Maisie. Through all this, director J. A. Bayona offers standard action fare that lacks almost any kind of introspection from any of the main characters.

Pratt is the main reason Fallen Kingdom isn't a total bomb. Even at that, his character Owen has to become more action hero than animal trainer. The scene where he, Claire, and Franklin making their escape from the island is a bit reminiscent of the famous rolling boulder scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark as the place becomes a graveyard while they watch helplessly. Howard is fine as Claire, who'd hoped for a relocation plan, and got one with Lockwood. Claire also wisely invested in some shoes that are functional in the event of running, which she, Owen, and Franklin have to do both on the island and at the Lockwood estate. Cromwell does his best in support as the aged Lockwood, making the effort to make his lasting legacy a positive one. In addition to Wong, Jeff Goldblum reprises his role from the original movie as Dr. Ian Malcolm, a professor who tells Congress his view of dinosaurs based on his close encounters with them. Unlike Owen and Claire, Dr. Malcolm is not sympathetic to the dinosaurs' plight on Isla Nublar.

Conclusion

Jurassic World injected a bit of fun and good will into the Jurassic film series. Its successor has lost nearly every bit of that. Owen, Claire, and their associates make decent protagonists, but they are up against criminally reckless people who exploit the dinosaurs for profit. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, as a result, is just an action film that has the half-baked qualities of a couple of other entries in the series. One more issue that baffles me is this: how do films like this seem to a readily available supply of mercenaries willing to do any insane thing for a pay day many of them don't live to see?

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom two stars. This film series takes yet another fall.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom trailer