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Review: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Teases an Exciting New Direction for the Dino Franchise

June 21, 2018Ben MK

As they're fond of saying in the Jurassic Park franchise, life finds a way. But more often than not, it's been the human characters of the series who have been finding new ways of putting themselves in precarious situations where something further up the food chain is breathing down their necks.

Call it refusing to deviate from the formula, but no matter what your point of view, it's what these films do best. And in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, director J.A. Bayona and screenwriters Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow have found a way to take moviegoers back to Jurassic World, where a reunion between old friends awaits, and where new dangers and old threats both lurk in the shadows, waiting to pounce.

Storywise, it all begins with the violent awakening of a dormant volcano on Isla Nublar, prompting the former overseer of the theme park that was Jurassic World, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), and her colleagues at her new outfit, an activist group calling themselves the Dinosaur Project, to petition for the government to intervene to help save the dinosaurs from becoming the victims of a second extinction event. But just when the government rejects the idea and all seems lost, in steps Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), the representative for the estate of Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), former business partner of John Hammond.

Together, Lockwood and Hammond started the scientific venture that would one day lead to the first Jurassic Park, and it all grew out of the experiments the two conducted in the sub-basement of Lockwood's sprawling estate, nestled amid the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Now, Mills is offering Claire the opportunity to help save the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar. But to do so, they'll need the special set of skills belonging to one man in particular, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), the only person who can get them close enough to the last surviving velociraptor, Blue, a creature with whom Owen shares an uncommon bond, having raised the animal himself.

Soon Claire, Owen, and two of Claire's co-workers from the Dinosaur Project, Franklin Webb (a scene-stealing Justice Smith) and Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), are bound for the island. However, once there, they discover that all is not as it seems. Suffice to say, the crux of this franchise has always been man's ambition to play God. And in what follows, the four find themselves facing the fearsome new result of that ambition — the Indoraptor — a hybrid between a raptor and the previous film's prehistoric antagonist, the Indominus Rex.

Despite how admittedly cool it is to see the characters try to outrun a herd of stampeding dinos, which are in turn trying to outrun a fast-moving pyroclastic cloud, the movie is not without its flaws, chief among them being that its scope — aside from its final moments — feels greatly reduced in comparison to the previous films. That said, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is still a satisfying installment in the blockbuster franchise, and it's hard not to get excited about what the filmmakers have in store for the final chapter of this new trilogy.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom releases June 22nd, 2018 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 8 min.

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