The Dinosaur Whisperer

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, B. D. Wong, Jeff Goldblum, James Cromwell, Daniella Pineda, Justice Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Isabella Sermon and Ted Levine
Director: J. A. Bayona
Scriptwriters: Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow based on characters by Michael Crichton
Cinematographer: Oscar Faura
Composer: Michael Giacchino
Rating: PG 13 for violence, children in danger
Running Length: 128 minutes 

Dinosaurs again rule the summer box office.  Yes, “Jurassic Park” is back with another episode in the re-boot of the late Michael Crichton book. It has been 25 years since the first “Jurassic Park” film was made.  This time, it is the dinosaurs who are in danger…from man, of course, with Ted Levine as the villain, Wheatley. The popular Chris Pratt from “Guardians of the Galaxy” fame takes on the role of Owen Brady, and Bryce Dallas Howard is Clair Dearing. Opposites attract. Unfortunately, no more Sir Richard Attenborough (John Hammond), and so it is James Cromwell as Hammond’s partner, Lockwood as head of the corporation. This sets up the scenario for a series of captures, escapes, discoveries, children-in-peril and another great screamer, Isabella Sermon. Every adventure film has to have one. She plays Maisie, Lockwood’s grand-daughter. 

Dinosaurs are so popular, Union Station in Kansas City, Mo. recently spent a great deal of money to purchase their own dinosaur exhibit of bones. Thus said, a T-Rex is proudly on display outside the Station. Imagine, coming in on the train from Chicago or Los Angeles and seeing a T-Rex waiting for you. The Midwest can say good-bye to cowboys now and, also, fly-overs who would miss the fun on earth. 

Our story begins with dinosaurs roaming the island of Isla Nublar. It is discovered that the volcano there has become active and will erupt soon.  What to do with the prehistoric life there?  Leave them to their own fate? Transport them elsewhere?  The second plan is the feasible one, and bring handkerchief. Enter Owen (Chris Pratt) as the dinosaur-whisperer and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire, who now has formed an organization called “Dinosaur Protection.” At this point, we see that two groups are at work, those who want to protect dinosaurs and safely move them, and those who want to profit from dinosaurs (think military here). Imagine being in the Middle East and having a T-Rex run through a group of soldiers. Who needs a tank? 

In order to appeal to a younger audience, there must be a child in the mix and in this film, it is pre-teen Maisie, well-played by Isabella Sermon. She figures out what is going on, while running and screaming from one situation to another. So, you have dinosaurs---big and small--- erupting volcano, chases, escapes, and, from the last film, your favorite Velociraptor, “Blue.”  Don’t go to your local pet store just yet. 

Personally, I think the first “Jurassic Park” in this re-boot is the best. It was fresh and had surprising moments. “Fallen Kingdom” takes it from there in a different direction, but with a bit of schmaltz thrown in.  I didn’t care for that.  Keep it on the track without added frills. There is something about the thrill of going into the past---way into the past---and living among the life of that time. Birds, reptiles, amphibians and those in-between, plus all predators.  Well, almost all, as the largest of them are plant-eaters while some of the smallest eat meat. Go figure. When the plant eaters come, the earth shakes and the plants must shake, too, as when T-Rex come calling for meat with stealth and large teeth, for some, a collector’s item. 

Acting is OK and Bryce Dallas Howard wears boots on her feet for most of this film---high heels are now not used in chase scenes. Chris Pratt smiles at the camera, does his quips and is serious when appropriate.  It is Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda who steal their scenes, as a systems analyst and a paleo veterinarian. Their facial expressions speak words in itself. Toby Jones is the pompous buyer of animals and B. D. Wong is back as Dr. Wu, the creator of life. Composer Michael Giacchino does a credible film score and Oscar Faura’s cinematography takes us to all the right angles of viewing. So, all in all, “Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom” gives you a world of the distant past, right in your lap, with a great big, “What if?” 

Copyright 2018 Marie Asner