Raptors still delight as humans make mess
Of all the terrors on view in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the sight of Toby Jones’ toupee bobbing up and down, when his character (a sniveling dinosaur auctioneer) dashes into an elevator to alleged safety, with the camera and something called the “Indoraptor” scrambling behind him — reader, it is a strange and wondrous vision of foolish vanity in flight.
There are other diversions in director J.A. Bayona’s Gothic-tinged followup to “Jurassic World.”
That 2015 picture brought the Michael Crichton-derived and Steve Spielberg-bolstered franchise back from extinction. “Jurassic World” went on to become one of the more forgettable blockbusters to cross the $1.5 billion worldwide mark. Chris Pratt had a lot to do with it. He and Bryce Dallas Howard are back, running, making eyes, making the best of their semidisposable plot machines disguised as characters, and generally lightening a heavy digital effects load.
I like the new “Jurassic World” movie better than the 2015 edition. Bayona’s direction is considerably more stylish and actively mobile than Colin Trevorrow’s was. Much of the climax unfolds inside and outside a brooding, sprawling 19th century mansion out of “Rebecca,” complete with basement laboratories and holding pens for cloning experiments. In other words, Bayona’s earlier film “The Orphanage” proved extremely helpful for the atmosphere.
It’s a disarming sight, watching dinosaurs knocking around the corridors at high speed, or creeping MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril) Running time: 2:10 Opened: Thursday evening stealthily into a child’s bedroom. The thrills aren’t new-new, exactly, and I suppose you could go all the way to same-old, sameold. I doubt “Fallen Kingdom” will turn any current hunters (of anything) into animal-rights activists.
But we’re ahead of ourselves. Script by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly goes like so: Back on Isla Nublar, the toothsome meat- and plant-eaters cloned for adventure park fun and profit are threatened with extinction thanks to a newly active volcano. A kindly colleague of the original park’s inventor (played by James Cromwell) wants to bankroll the rescue of the surviving dinosaurs, which he plans to relocate to a sanctuary. But with the master on his deathbed, a weaselly factotum (Rafe Spall) schemes to sell the newly weaponized creatures to the highest international bidder. Boo!
For several good long stretches, Bayona maintains steady, artfully varied suspense and peekaboo games as well as a more interesting batch of supporting characters.
Once the action moves to the mainland, it becomes its own kind of haunted-mansion movie. Some may balk at where “Fallen Kingdom” ventures, but the interior sequences work craftily.
Is the movie a great time? Well … with the dinosaurs in a constant sweat, being shot at with bullets and tranquilizer darts and subjected to nasty tooth extractions, “Fallen Kingdom” leans awfully hard on the animal-abuse pathos. I was more intrigued by the presence of Geraldine Chaplin as a little girl’s protector in the Manderley garb. Chaplin was featured in the finest scene Bayona has directed: the eerie seance in “The Orphanage.” Even if nothing quite measures up in this movie, other than composer Michael Giacchino’s lush yet subtle orchestral colors, Bayona and his writers wanted to give audiences a different kind of monster movie. That they did. Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.
Dinomeister Owen (Chris Pratt) reunites with his old pal Velociraptor Blue in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”