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Jurassic World 2 Review: Growin' Dinos Sleek, Stokin' Indo, Sic It on Chris and Bryce!

Universal should maybe send Capcom a big basket of fruit: the entire second half of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, set in a remote mansion with a massive bioweapons lab hidden underneath, is basically Resident Evil (the game) with dinosaurs. Which Capcom kinda was trying to do with Dino Crisis--a game that resembles the first half of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. What's the word for a serpentine dinosaur eating its own tail? (Ouroboros.)

And it makes sense, because Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which I am going to call JW2 from here on out to spare my poor fingers, has video-game plot structure. Generally: an objective is stated aloud, the characters are plunged into a situation in which something ridiculous is required in order to achieve said objective, they make it somehow and obtain skill and knowledge in the process, then an even crazier objective is stated...rinse, repeat, until doing so ultimately puts you in the path of the main villain and/or final boss. The latter, whose reveal is much like the Tyrant's in Resident Evil 1, is fearsome, but likely to make your stoner friends giggle uncontrollably every time they hear its name spoken aloud: the indo-raptor.

Original Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton might giggle too, or pitch a fit, were he alive: he did his best to make fake science at least sound plausible, while even the least-academically inclined among viewers might notice this time around that that isn't how lava works, or that different species of reptilian predator don't simply have interchangeable blood for transfusions. Does it matter? Not to me. Science has long since informed us that this cinematic franchise's scaly dinosaurs are themselves contradicted by what we now know about feathers. It's a fictional world that we're watching, and if the movies continue in the direction they seem to be going, it's only gonna get more and more crazy fantastical from here on out. One feat of physics-defying that will not be repeated, however, is Bryce Dallas Howard running through action scenes in heels; the cameras show us her every footwear change this time around to ensure we know the filmmakers heard the complaints last time that Howard's Claire was insufficiently feminist next to Mad Max's Furiosa.

Claire and Owen (Chris Pratt) are your heroes once again, as Jeff Goldblum is only here for one scene--split in half to bookend--to advocate that all the dinosaurs should be killed, a position the film in toto clearly disputes (trigger warning for kids and possibly parents who cry at animal deaths; there are a few). The leads' screwball banter has been toned down, having been judged and found sexist last time by many critics (I found it an appropriate throwback, but out of cinephile context it's not super-woke), and they've been given two new companions to make things less white: a Latina zoologist named Zia (Daniella Pineda) who's gay according to a scene that didn't make the final movie, and a cowardly, racially mixed computer expert named Franklin (Justice Smith). Also a little girl (Isabella Sermon) who serves as another character's mysterious granddaughter, and convenient plot device/metaphor in more ways than one.

Following a teaser/cold open that wants very much to be like Jaws, there's a lot of slow set-up about getting dinosaurs off the island that's about to go up in volcanic ash, but once things get crazy, they stay crazy. The dino action is nuts, and there are a whole lot of cliffhanger "How can our heroes possibly escape THIS time?" moments that make you think director J.A. Bayona gets the vintage serial mentality in the same way George Lucas did, and maybe he should have been offered a Star Wars before Colin Trevorrow, but I digress.

You might have read this far and think I'm insulting the movie. Not at all. I don't need it to be smart. I just need it not to be stupid in the "Jeff Goldblum's daughter kicks Velociraptor ass using gymnastics" way, or the "Sam Neill uses a kazoo noise to fool new smarter raptors" way. I'm cool with "Aging military guy is too dumb to know you don't try to pull teeth for the ol' fang collection from the most dangerous new dinosaur alive." And Chris Pratt's Indiana Jones act is a hoot.

Also, the way they have positioned friendly raptor "Blue" for maximum marketing potential this time around is sheer genius. Every kid is going to want one. The goth kids will want the indo-raptor, of course. As will the potheads until they find out it's not what they expected--dispensaries, I'm sure, will have their own Jurassic strains to celebrate.

Maybe they'll make watching the movie even more goofy fun. I found raspberry-peach Mello Yello Zero more than up to that task, myself.

Image: Universal

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