*** out of five stars
For the fifth film in the Jurassic Park/World series, the dinosaurs face extinction again when the volcano on their island home is about to erupt. Can they survive, and, if so, live alongside mankind?
Three years after chaos tore the dino park apart in Jurassic World, Isla Nublar has become an abandoned no-man’s land. But the island’s long-dormant volcano is set to explode and kill off the remaining dinosaurs. Amid debates over whether the dinosaurs should be saved, the park’s former manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is contacted by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the former partner of park founder John Hammond.
At Lockwood’s request, Claire teams with former Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), hacker Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and dinosaur doctor Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) to rescue some dinosaurs. Most importantly, they search for Blue, the last living raptor, who Owen raised from infancy. But Lockwood’s partner, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), has ulterior motives for the dinosaurs and has commissioned a vicious new dinosaur, the Indoraptor (a cross between a raptor and the Indominus Rex from the last film).
Fallen Kingdom is a perfectly serviceable if largely unremarkable addition to the Jurassic franchise. It follows the story from 2015’s Jurassic World and emphasizes the series’ long-standing ethical question over the co-existence of humanity and dinosaurs in the modern age. Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as Ian Malcolm for little more than an extended cameo but leaves a great impact on the audience. Howard and Pratt’s characters, while not developed in any unexpected ways, prove still to be very enjoyable.
The film contains numerous visual homages to the first Jurassic Park, not unlike the way The Force Awakens took many cues from the original Star Wars. One interesting similarity is how Lockwood’s relationship with his granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) can be compared to Hammond and Tim and Lex in the first film. Cromwell is charming as usual, and Sermon is quite possibly the best child actor in this kind of genre movie that one has seen in recent memory.
The special effects are solid, and there is a decent blend of CGI and animatronics on display. Some interactions between human and dinosaur characters come across so smoothly, it is somewhat hard to tell where the physical effects end and the computer images begin. And while the film starts off somewhat slowly (not unlike the other Jurassic films), the action sequences are very engaging.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a decent entry to the prehistoric franchise. It does not rise high above popcorn-flick level quality, but neither did most of the other entries in this series. If you’re looking for some dino-might excitement, then go for it. Fallen Kingdom leaves the door open for intriguing story possibilities for the next (and last?) Jurassic film, as life always finds a way.