Family Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (PG-13)

Kernel Rating: whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernal (2 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 128 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. The latest in the 'Jurassic Park' franchise recreates many of the same elements of the preceding films, in particular 'Jurassic World,' with a lot of dinosaur carnage -- dinosaurs eat and attack each other and people, you see a person thrown between two dinosaurs and ripped in half, you see limbs cut off, there are fiery explosions from a volcano that you see burning dinosaurs alive, and overall there is a fair amount of violence. Some jump scares involving the scarier dinosaurs; some cursing and vulgar language; a transfusion scene may be squeamish for viewers not good with blood; some gross-out moments involving dinosaur spit, tongues, and a character who pulls out dinosaur teeth as trophies; and a lightly romantic subplot and a kiss.

'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' is derivative of every preceding film in this franchise, copying plot points and recreating story beats so often that the film is ultimately quite boring. There are some good jump scares here, but you would be better off just renting the first 'Jurassic Park.'

By Roxana Hadadi

JurassicWorldFallenKingdom ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewEverything old eventually becomes new again, which is where we are with "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom." The latest in the "Jurassic Park" franchise mimics so much from Steven Spielberg's original '90s film that you'll wonder what truly creative ideas were brought to any of this. There are some new jump scares, a new genetically engineered dinosaur, and a new landscape for these dinosaurs to terrorize, but the bones of "Fallen Kingdom" are the same as all the preceding films in this franchise. It feels, and is, derivative.

The film picks up three years after the events of "Jurassic World," in which a theme park populated with all kinds of dinosaurs careened out of control when a specially made hybrid dino got loose, communicated with other creatures that shared its DNA, and spread havoc and chaos, killing and injuring hundreds of park visitors and tourists. Since then, the company that owned the park has paid out $800 million in insurance lawsuits and the woman who ran the park, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard, of "Pete's Dragon"), has changed gears, leaving behind her operations background and embracing a new mission as a dinosaur-rights activist.

Some people want Isla Nublar, where the park was located, destroyed and the dinosaurs killed, but it's already endangered because of a volcano about to erupt on the island. For Claire, it's imperative that the dinosaurs who live there are saved -- and her desire is mimicked by foundation director Eli Mills (Rafe Spall, of "A Brilliant Young Mind"), who oversees the estate of Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), one-time partner of John Hammond, who was responsible for the genetic cloning discoveries and technology of the first "Jurassic Park." Lockwood wants to donate an island where the dinosaurs can live unencumbered from human interference, Mills tells Claire, and all she'll need to do is travel to Isla Nublar to collect the dinosaurs they haven't been able to capture yet -- specifically the last living Velociraptor, Blue, who was trained by Claire's former love interest Owen Grady (Chris Pratt, of "Avengers: Infinity War").

Mills's request sparks off a series of events: Claire has to find Owen, recruit members of her Dinosaur Protection Group to come with them to Isla Nublar, and commit herself to the idea that what they're doing "isn't exactly legal but is the right thing to do." But of course, what Claire and Owen think they're doing isn't really what they end up doing, and they're pulled into a scheme that involves illegal dinosaur trafficking, a shady auction, and a little girl whose identity may not be what they expect.

Much like "Jurassic World," everyone in "Fallen Kingdom" makes the most absurd decision available to them, resulting in a series of increasingly dumb events. How are people in these movies still underestimating dinosaurs? And yet, that's exactly what they do. There's no reasoning given for Claire's total shift from thinking of dinosaurs as something to control to something to protect; the Lockwoods and their plot are completely made up for this film, and skew too closely to the character arc already given to John Hammond; and the last act, which tries to raise questions about genetic discovery and scientific creation, is handled so sillily that you'll laugh at the final scenes rather than be thrilled by them.

Still, in the ways that he can, director J. A. Bayona tries to switch things up. There are some eye-grabbing scenes here, especially on Isla Nublar as the volcano erupts and the dinosaurs go running, and jump scares -- like the original film's sequence with the raptors in the kitchen -- are handled fairly well. But "Fallen Kingdom" can't develop a consistent tone, believable characters, or a real reason for existing. Without any of that, this sequel goes nowhere.

Interested in a previously released film? Read our reviews of films already showing in your local theater.

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