Grade: B-
Entire family: No (Age 10 and older?)
Sci-fi/Adventure
Universal
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science fiction violence and peril
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 widescreen
Featured audio: DTS-X, Dolby Atmos
Bonus features:  B-
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Trailer
Amazon link

As the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom box notes remind us, it’s been three years since Jurassic World, the theme park and luxury resort, was destroyed by dinosaurs who had gotten loose, and though all humans evacuated the island the dinosaurs remained, living now as nature may have intended 150 million years ago.

But the volcano on Isla Nubar is erupting and threatening to destroy all dinosaurs on the island while the world watches, helpless. Former Jurassic World employee Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Harper) has launched a campaign to save the dinosaurs, and before long Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is recruited to help with the dinosaur extraction. Of particular interest is Blue, the most intelligent dinosaur on the island, who moviegoers may remember was a Velociraptor raised and trained by Owen.

The main company is ostensibly committed to rescuing the dinosaurs—to save them from going extinct a second time—but when Claire and Owen get there and find that mercenaries are involved, it’s never a good sign. Neither is a sneaky CEO who seems to be giving orders contrary to what the remaining co-founder of Jurassic World would want. The save-the-dino folks and the mercenaries are at cross-purposes, as they were in Disney’s animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire. It’s a familiar concept, whether it’s saving lost civilization or an island full of dinosaurs: business versus science. We saw that theme play out in the King Kong films, just as we’re seeing it play out now in America as environmentalists and national park employees try to resist a business-driven administration that’s determined to open up more sanctuary land to development. So yes, the plot is very familiar, and when you see flashbacks showing Owen with baby Blue you realize that there are fewer tender moments here as well.

B.D. Wong and Jeff Goldblum also turn up again, but the regulars just don’t seem to have the same meaty roles to chew on as they did in Jurassic World (2015). Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is less science fiction than it is a straight formulaic action-disaster movie, and because there’s more action it seems as if there aren’t as many stand-out iconic scenes to remember long after the credits roll. Yes, you’ll probably never forget a Mosasaurus leaping out of the water to try to eat a helicopter, and a T-Rex scene is also memorable. It all looks pretty spectacular on hi-def Blu-ray too, with a rumbling soundtrack.

In other words, I don’t think Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is anywhere near as bad as the ratings at Rotten Tomatoes would suggest. Our family liked it, and we’d rank it as being not as good as the first Jurassic Park or Jurassic World, but better than The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III. The logic in Fallen Kingdom may not hold up to scrutiny, but the action, special effects, and dinosaurs are so impressive—possibly the best of the series—that you’re inclined to overlook any lapses in logic.

I can see why some might not have warmed to this film, though, because you don’t have that loving developmental relationship between Owen and the raptors, and everything seems so hectic and helter-skelter once you’re on the island. There’s no traditional Act 1 build-up. It’s just BAM smack into what feels like Act 2, with the only themes explored being the debatable “weaponization” of dinosaurs and the even more controversial topic of human cloning—and even those feel diminished by the breakneck pacing and action.

But if you go into this thinking you’re seeing an action movie and not a sci-fi fable or puzzler, you’ll enjoy it enough to watch it again—and that goes for the young dinosaur lovers in your family, too. Though a word of caution: anyone with compassion will find some scenes hard to watch. We’re talking Ohana here, and even dumb dangerous dinosaurs deserve not to be left behind.

Language: Even mild expletives are drowned out by explosions, though there are probably a dozen swearwords that do poke through

Sex: Who has time for sex? Lava is spewing everywhere!

Violence: Dinosaurs (and one character) are hit with tranquilizer darts, humans die in spectacular but not that bloody ways, a Velociraptor eats somebody, and a guy has his arm torn off—those are the more extreme examples, but there’s violence throughout

Adult situations: A few characters drink and get buzzed, but wouldn’t you?

Takeaway: Like Jurassic Park, Jurassic World was conceived as a trilogy, so filmmakers have one more chance to hit a home run

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