‘Juras­sic World 2’ leans on nostal­gia, con­trivances

The Korea Times - - MOVIES - By Lind­sey Bahr (AP)

Here’s the good news: “Juras­sic World: Fallen King­dom” is more fun than “Juras­sic World.” It’s not ex­actly a high bar, but still a wel­come sur­prise. In the hands of a new di­rec­tor, J.A. Bay­ona, with Chris Pratt’s high-wattage charisma on full blast and a fair amount of self-aware hu­mor in­tact, there are cer­tainly worse ways to spend a cou­ple hours in the air-con­di­tioned mul­ti­plex this sum­mer.

Mind you, this movie is pretty ridicu­lous and the script (from Colin Trevor­row and Derek Con­nolly) is not very clever — I found my­self rolling my eyes al­most as frequently as I found my­self smil­ing with gen­uine de­light. “Juras­sic World: Fallen King­dom” will not stand up to rig­or­ous scru­tiny, and yet, it’s kind of an en­joy­able, pre­pos­ter­ous and thrilling ride that ticks through nostal­gia beats like a shop­ping list.

It’s a lit­tle sad how in this era of in­dus­trial fran­chise film­mak­ing a three year gap be­tween films ac­tu­ally feels like quite a bit of time — or maybe it’s just a tes­ta­ment to how gru­el­ing the past few years have been — but, hey, it did at least seem like the right time to check in with those di­nosaurs again, al­though I worry that our emo­tional in­vest­ment in Owen’s con­nec­tion with a ve­loci­rap­tor has been vastly over­es­ti­mated.

Af­ter a very solid, and scary, be­gin­ning, with pour­ing rain and gen­uine sus­pense as some sci­en­tists ven­ture back into the de­funct Juras­sic World to re­trieve a di­nosaur bone, a help­ful news­caster ori­ents the au­di­ence with a whole lot of ex­po­si­tion: It’s been three years since Juras­sic World closed; $800 mil­lion in dam­ages have been paid out; and, most im­por­tantly, a dor­mant vol­cano has come back to life on the is­land and is about to cause an “ex­tinc­tion level event” that will wipe out all the re­main­ing di­nosaurs.

The ques­tion of whether or not to let the di­nos go ex­tinct again has be­come a na­tional de­bate and Bryce Dal­las Howard’s Claire is lead­ing the charge to try to save the an­i­mals. As a not-so-sub­tle nod to that other na­tional de­bate about Claire’s choice of footwear in “Juras­sic World,” our first shot of her is her feet in sky high heels (the hik­ing boots she wears lat- er for all the ac­tion get their own lov­ing close-up too).

Es­sen­tially, and this is where the con­trivances start, a wealthy, dy­ing man, Ben­jamin Lock­wood (James Cromwell), who is some­how con­nected to John Ham­mond, and his as­so­ciate Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) pitch Claire on an ex­pe­di­tion to stage their own Noah’s Ark with the di­nos and trans­port as many species as pos­si­ble to a sanc­tu­ary is­land. They need her to tap into the park’s se­cu­rity sys­tem, and also to con­vince Owen (Pratt) to come along and get close to the rap­tor Blue, his old pal who has be­come so an­thro­po­mor­phized it’s ac­tu­ally sur­pris­ing she doesn’t just start talk­ing.

There are some more new char­ac­ters added too: A skit­tish com­puter guy, Franklin (Jus­tice Smith), and a doc­tor Zia (Daniella Pineda), who come along on the jour­ney for some comedic re­lief; a mer­ce­nary mil­i­tary guy (Ted Levine); and a cute dino-ob­sessed girl, Masie Lock­wood (Is­abella Ser­mon).

Per­haps the most un­ex­pected thing about “Fallen King­dom” is that the “es­cape from the vol­cano” plot is just the first set-piece. It’s all a pre­cur­sor to the di­nos com­ing to the main­land.

If you’re think­ing, “I’ve seen this movie be­fore,” just wait, it get so much more de­riv­a­tive than you would ever imag­ine pos­si­ble. Bay­ona, who also di­rected “The Im­pos­si­ble” and “A Mon­ster Calls,” is good enough to pull it off. It’s the main rea­son why “Fallen King­dom” is en­ter­tain­ing de­spite it­self, but it is a shame­less strat­egy that can only work so many times. Also, can we re­tire the “ob­jects in the mir­ror are closer than they ap­pear” joke at this point?

Life finds a way, and so do fran­chises that make un­godly amounts of money. “Juras­sic World: Fallen King­dom” gets away with its un­o­rig­i­nal­ity for the most part, but this fran­chise’s des­per­a­tion is start­ing to show. It’s time to evolve or go ex­tinct.

“Juras­sic World: Fallen King­dom,” a Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures re­lease, is rated PG-13 by the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica for “for in­tense se­quences of science-fic­tion vi­o­lence and peril.” Run­ning time: 128 min­utes. Two and a half stars out of four.

Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures

A scene from “Juras­sic World: Fallen King­dom”

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