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American films

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom film review – thrilling if clumsily conceived sequel has dinosaurs off the coast

Claire Dearing and Owen Grady return to Isla Nublar to save some of the dinosaurs from a volcanic eruption, before the story takes some new twists … but forget the plot, this is really just a silly blockbuster waiting for a sequel

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2018, 10:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2018, 1:10pm

3.5/5 stars

At once an enjoyable rehash of the series’ narrative beats and an oddly shaped story with one eye set on establishing a far more ludicrous next instalment, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom brings us temporarily back to the dinosaur-infested island of Isla Nublar – before shipping everyone off the coast. At which point it morphs into a surprisingly contained, and mostly thrilling, morality tale set around a rural mansion.

Three years after the theme park in the 2015 reboot Jurassic World became overrun by rampaging dinosaurs, Isla Nublar is on the verge of being engulfed by magma when its long-dormant volcano conveniently comes alive and threatens the prehistoric creatures with extinction – again. (Don’t ask: did nobody mention this could happen when they built the tourist attraction just a few years back?)

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As debate rages between animal rights activists and other, saner people (including Jeff Goldblum’s scientist character in a too-short cameo that bookends the film), on-again, off-again lovers Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) are joined by some military types as they secretly return to rescue a few beasts – especially Grady’s favourite velociraptor, Blue – before the volcano erupts.

Soon after they track down Blue, however, the bad guys reveal their true faces and attempt to leave Dearing and her crew for dead on the burning island. As the story relocates to the house of dinosaur-cloning scientist John Hammond’s former colleague Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), now overseen by his manager Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), Dearing and Grady must act before the captured dinosaurs are auctioned off.

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By trapping us in one building for long stretches, incoming director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) does manage quite a few effective scares with the Lockwood estate’s shadowy corners. But in forgoing the expansive canvas that is Isla Nublar’s wilderness, the screenplay, co-scripted by Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, sometimes threatens to overshadow the fun dinosaur action with ho-hum human drama.

Issues such as the right to life of genetically engineered animals and the moral codes of the experiments that produce them are touched on when they serve to advance the plot, but are otherwise out of sight and out of mind. This is, in the end, just a silly blockbuster in which the bad guys don’t so much need to repent as become dinosaur food for the viewers’ satisfaction – and in this respect Fallen Kingdom delivers.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens on June 7

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