Dino-bore? Sequel lacks wonder and thrills
It's been 25 years since “Jurassic Park,” so can we take a moment to appreciate how well that movie holds up?
Steven Spielberg essentially created the phenomenon of the blockbuster almost two decades earlier with “Jaws,” but he reinvented it with “Jurassic Park.”
The effects were so realistic that you didn't wonder how they made the dinosaurs so much as where they found real dinosaurs and how they trained them.
And suddenly directors from Stanley Kubrick to Peter Jackson felt like the technology had caught up with their imaginations, opening the floodgates of projects long thought unfilmable.
Now it's 2018 and audiences are both harder to wow and somehow more complicit in the success of forgettable summer fluff like “Jurassic World.” They're the movies everyone sees and no one remembers.
The massive box-office success made the sequel, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” an inevitability, and many will find it well worth their time and money. I myself find it missing that sense of wonder inspired by the original, and even the cheap roller-coaster thrills offered by most of the sequels.
“Fallen Kingdom” takes place three years after the events of “Jurassic World.” Isla Nublar is being threatened by a volcanic eruption, which leads to a public debate about whether to save the dinosaurs or to let nature run its course.
Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is leading the charge to save the dinos. Despite a presumably rocky romantic fallout that's only alluded to, she enlists raptor wrangler Owen (Chris Pratt) to help track his old dino friend.
When they arrive on the island, they soon discover that the people funding this mission have something more dubious in mind for these species.
This is the part where I feel compelled to remind you that I can appreciate dumb summer fun. I want to see dinosaurs smash things and eat people as much anyone.
And “Fallen Kingdom” has this. But I also found myself not engaged, and even occasionally bored. And one should never be bored when watching a dinosaur movie.
Director J.A. Bayona strings together the set-piece action fine, but he's saddled to a story designed to set up a third chapter with characters barely worth caring about.
Leaving the island is a bold choice, but it also means that the most eye-popping action takes place in the movie's first third. Pratt is again underutilized, although he gets to be a bit funnier than in the previous movie. Other characters are even less memorable.
Stick around after the credits for a tiny glimpse of the more-promising follow-up (due in 2021), but this one isn't going to be remembered for long.