Friday, June 22, 2018

Familiar monsters—plus some humans—dominate frequently terrifying ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’

By Steve Crum
This newest installment (#5) of the Jurassic Park franchise proves once again that containing a dinosaur is a fatally lost cause. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a fast and furious 128 minutes, jammed with a dozen-plus angry and gnashing dinosaurs eager to crunch-munch any nearby human. In other words, prepare for typical Jurassic Park action, tinged with the dark humor of men and women at risk of losing their limbs and lives. Bring the family. (It IS PG-13.) 
With director J. A. Bayona (The Orphanage) at the helm, Fallen Kingdom closely follows the storyline of 2015’s Jurassic World. (The third part of the trilogy is planned for 2021.) Returning are Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing, and Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, the former dinosaur trainer for the Jurassic World tourist attraction. Pratt’s happy-go-lucky persona again jives perfectly here. 
By the way, there is an added attraction unique to the Jurassic franchise: molten lava. As the island’s volcano erupts, the lava flows…closing in on Grady. Enough said, but it is a cleverly executed nail biter. 
Speaking of “the island,” we are talking Isla Nublar. That’s where the story really kicks in, three years after events in the first Jurassic World. The tourists and park personnel have long left the bloodbath, resulting in millions of dollars of lawsuits. But dinosaurs still inhabit Nublar. Enter Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum in a return appearance), who is asking the U.S. Senate to let the creatures die a natural death as a volcano is on the verge of destroying the island.  At the same time, Claire Wearing, who now spearheads the Dinosaur Protection Group, wants to move the big guys (and gals) to sanctuary on another island.  Her group gets financial backing to do so by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), representing billionaire Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), former partner of the late John Hammond—of Jurassic Park fame. 
It is paramount that the reason Owen Grady is included in rounding up a half dozen or so different dino breeds is his history with raising the only remaining Velociraptor, “Blue.” Blue, of course, is the most dangerous of all the animals. Grady will insure its safe transport to another island. Well, things go awry. Big time. Greedy profiteers have taken over the project, and the animals are sent to the Lockwood Estate in Northern California. 
You get the idea. The long established template of giant monster movies, beginning with the captured Brontosaurus in 1925’s “The Lost World,” is to take a creature from its jungle habitat and place it among civilized humans in New York City (King Kong) or London (The Lost World). In Fallen Kingdom, the terrors are unleashed within a huge mansion. Once again, we can thank the business types out to exploit the dinosaurs for profit. 
Will the greedy businessmen get their comeuppance? Or is the very mention an expected spoiler? All I will reveal is that half the fun is savoring the revenge and retribution via realistic CGI. 
Incidentally, look for Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin’s daughter) in a rare appearance as housekeeper/caretaker Iris at the Lockwood Estate. Mention should also be made for the comedy relief of Justice Smith as the DPG’s systems analyst. His character is a real scream.
Golly, sorry about not mentioning the OTHER raptor, a super-sized one called an Indoraptor. That one might also get loose in the quaint mansion.
Could such an event ever occur in a Jurassic Park flick?  

GRADE on an A-F Scale: B+