The ‘Jurassic’ world as we know it is devolving — into a standard, formulaic and largely predictable monster movie franchise. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is still watchable, mainly thanks to the appeal of its returning star of the human variety, Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy). But it doesn’t have the combined charm, tension, terror and character development of 2015’s Jurassic World or the originality of the 1993 classic Jurassic Park. As sequels go, it’s definitely better than the completely forgettable Jurassic Parks 2 and 3. But those films set the bar pretty darn low. If it isn’t careful, the next Jurassic World – as yet untitled, but due in theaters in 2021 – could drive the franchise into extinction, or at least put it on the endangered species list.

Fallen Kingdom picks up three years after the luxury Jurassic World theme park was destroyed by genetically-engineered dinosaurs on the loose. People have steered clear of Costa Rica’s Isla Nublar since the catastrophe, leaving the surviving dinosaurs to fend for themselves in the jungles around the abandoned park. But when a long-dormant volcano on the island starts erupting, threatening to kill off the dinosaurs, the park’s former velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Pratt) and marketing executive Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) agree to take part in a rescue mission to save the creatures and move them to a new wildlife sanctuary. As you might expect, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Turns out there’s a conspiracy afoot to capture the dinos – including Owen’s beloved raptor pal Blue – and sell them at auction.

Director J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, A Monster Calls) does the best he can with a superficial and contrived script that makes waste of co-stars James Cromwell, Ted Levine, Justice Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Daniella Pineda, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall and Isabella Sermond. Jeff Goldblum is back, briefly, as ‘chaos theory’ expert Dr. Ian Malcolm (who warns Congress, “Genetic power has now been unleashed. You can’t put it back in the box.”); and BD Wong reprises his role as evil geneticist Dr. Henry Wu, but their presence feels shoe-horned in. It doesn’t help that once off the island, most of the action takes place in the basement of a large estate, so the story doesn’t have room to roam. CGI can only take you so far.

That said, let’s face it: I’ll watch just about anything with any of the Chris’s… Pratt, Evans, Pine, Hemsworth. So Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, while disappointing, isn’t a total bust. So if you’re chomping at the bit for a big screen action adventure movie, then lumber on over to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Just keep your expectations in check, and the wee ones at home. JP:FK is PG-13 and can be the stuff of nightmares, even if you’ve got a soft spot for dinosaurs (and Chris Pratt).

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