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New director takes different approach with latest ‘Jurassic Park’

By Staff | Jun 27, 2018

Do dinosaurs deserve protected, endangered species status or to face no escape from a continually more intense volcanic eruption on Isla Nubla, which once provided sanctuary for the cloned species except for thousands of gawking tourists hoping for a good selfie?

It’s run raptors run for “Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom.” You too, Mr. Tyrannosaurus. You’re cooler and more ferocious than the Indominus rex, Velociraptor, Indoraptors and familiar Brachiosaurus and Pachycephalosaurus.

Spanish director J.A. Bayona reshapes the former tourist theme park into a lava threatened island where evading a second extinction leads to story arcs that recall “King Kong” and “Noah’s Ark.”

With the massive lizards (and cute little Blue) under attack by a bureaucratic decision, the humans (good, bad and indifferent) must avoid saliva dripping mouths and wide thundering pedi-claws.

Since Owen (Chris Pratt) did not exhibit rogue wrangler tendencies, he’s not automatically as fast thinking, sturdy or as confident as park CEO Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who romped herself through the brushy edges of “Jurassic World” in high heels. Those business pumps remain on the mainland, but Claire has retained strident stubborn determination and adapts well to more rough and tumble demands than riding in a park cart and avoiding dino waste.

The film’s opening volley on the island has Claire taking to the chopper just fine, thank you, with Owen barely grabbing hold in time. He lacks her high strung passion for dino rescue.

It’s because of the sales instinct of a business woman that applies pressure to a wavering Owen that “Blue,” a young dinosaur whom he trained and bonded with in the earlier film, “is alive and you raised her.” The DNA experimentation reaches a poignant fruition when Zia (Daniella Pineda), a young paleoveterinarian (dinosaur vet) utters, “she’s beautiful. I never thought I’d see one in real life,” regarding the ailing “Blue” who she must, under threat of death, keep breathing.

“Fallen Kingdom” races past the earlier film’s death defying hide-and-seek chases, instead, multiple layers of action and thrills dominate. One of its best scenes has the quartet of good guys and gals trapped in a pod on the rapids facing toothy jaws and prospects of drowning.

Director Bayona mixes atmospheric island panoramas and perfectly executed extreme (crunch) close ups on the lava enveloped island. Then, in the culmination of the mercenary conspiracy portion set at a benevolent billionaire’s (James Cromwell) West Coast estate, relies on light and shadows for suspense heightening that wrings more suspense than the raging caged rescued carnivores unknowingly objecting to their sale to the highest bidder for unique weapons of war.

Bayona could have used a little of the short melodic “Jaws” theme for scare intensity, but “Fallen Kingdom” has its twists and a preachy warning about man-made cataclysmic alterations tempting both the Almighty and hounds of Hades. Cynically toying, avoiding, and embracing genre cliches, Bayona pulls off a very good Spielberg imitation, except neither Pratt nor Howard fall into deep peril (not even a twisted ankle) and Pratt’s mischief mouth wanes once back in the states.

Lest one forget, it’s been 25 years since Spielberg first turned loose the biting, hungry intensely realistic computer-generated creatures that set the pathway for the multitude of accelerated CGI advances taken for granted in superhero or outer space franchises of this century.

Tony Rutherford is a film reviewer for HuntingtonNews.net and a member of the Huntington Regional Film Commission.