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Movie Review: ‘Jurassic World 2’

Here’s the good news: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom “ is more fun than “Jurassic World.“ It’s not exactly a high bar, but still a welcome surprise. In the hands of a new director, J.A. Bayona, with Chris Pratt’s high-wattage charisma on full blast and a fair amount of self-aware humor intact, there are certainly worse ways to spend a couple hours in the air-conditioned multiplex this summer.

Mind you, this movie is pretty ridiculous and the script (from Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly) is not very clever — I found myself rolling my eyes almost as frequently as I found myself smiling with genuine delight. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” will not stand up to rigorous scrutiny, and yet, it’s kind of an enjoyable, preposterous and thrilling ride that ticks through nostalgia beats like a shopping list.

It’s a little sad how in this era of industrial franchise filmmaking a three year gap between films actually feels like quite a bit of time — or maybe it’s just a testament to how grueling the past few years have been — but, hey, it did at least seem like the right time to check in with those dinosaurs again, although I worry that our emotional investment in Owen’s connection with a velociraptor has been vastly overestimated.


After a very solid, and scary, beginning, with pouring rain and genuine suspense as some scientists venture back into the defunct Jurassic World to retrieve a dinosaur bone, a helpful newscaster orients the audience with a whole lot of exposition: It’s been three years since Jurassic World closed; $800 million in damages have been paid out; and, most importantly, a dormant volcano has come back to life on the island and is about to cause an “extinction level event” that will wipe out all the remaining dinosaurs.

The question of whether or not to let the dinos go extinct again has become a national debate and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire is leading the charge to try to save the animals. As a not-so-subtle nod to that other national debate about Claire’s choice of footwear in “Jurassic World,“ our first shot of her is her feet in sky high heels (the hiking boots she wears later for all the action get their own loving close-up too).

Essentially, and this is where the contrivances start, a wealthy, dying man, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who is somehow connected to John Hammond, and his associate Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) pitch Claire on an expedition to stage their own Noah’s Ark with the dinos and transport as many species as possible to a sanctuary island. They need her to tap into the park’s security system, and also to convince Owen (Pratt) to come along and get close to the raptor Blue, his old pal who has become so anthropomorphized it’s actually surprising she doesn’t just start talking.

There are some more new characters added too: A skittish computer guy, Franklin (Justice Smith), and a doctor Zia (Daniella Pineda), who come along on the journey for some comedic relief; a mercenary military guy (Ted Levine); and a cute dino-obsessed girl, Masie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon).

Perhaps the most unexpected thing about “Fallen Kingdom” is that the “escape from the volcano” plot is just the first set-piece. It’s all a precursor to the dinos coming to the mainland.

If you’re thinking, “I’ve seen this movie before,“ just wait, it get so much more derivative than you would ever imagine possible. Bayona, who also directed “The Impossible” and “A Monster Calls,“ is good enough to pull it off. It’s the main reason why “Fallen Kingdom” is entertaining despite itself, but it is a shameless strategy that can only work so many times. Also, can we retire the “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” joke at this point?

Life finds a way, and so do franchises that make ungodly amounts of money. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” gets away with its unoriginality for the most part, but this franchise’s desperation is starting to show. It’s time to evolve or go extinct.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,“ a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.“ Running time: 128 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

Coming to a Theater Near You This Summer: Kevin Spacey

We may not be seeing Kevin Spacey in House of Cards anymore, but he will be coming to the big screen this summer. Sky News reports the 58-year-old actor, virtually banished from Hollywood after sexual assault allegations against him first emerged in October, will appear in Billionaire Boys Club, co-starring Emma Roberts and Baby Driver‘s Ansel Elgort.

The movie, which filmed two years ago and comes to theaters July 19, stars Spacey as real-life con man Ron Levin. Spacey also appears in the trailer released last week, billed as “Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey.“ “People have such short memories,“ Richard DuPont, who plays a drug dealer in the film, tells Page Six. “And Spacey is almost unrecognizable in a beard and glasses.“

Incredibles 2 Breaks Records

The Free Press WV

Disney and Pixar’s Incredibles 2 has broken the record for the best animated opening of all time and the biggest for a PG-rated film, the AP reports. Disney estimates Sunday that the film has earned $180 million in its first weekend in theaters. The previous animation record-holder was another Pixar sequel, Finding Dory, which had a $135 million launch in 2016. Incredibles 2 comes 14 years after The Incredibles and picks up right where the first film left off with the superhero family. Filling out the top five are Ocean’s 8 ($19.5 million), Tag ($14.6 million), Solo: A Star Wars Story ($9.3 million), and Deadpool 2 ($8.6 million), Variety reports.

Movie Review: ‘Incredibles 2’

“The Incredibles” writer/director Brad Bird has said that his characters’ powers are all born of stereotypes. Dad is strong, mom is stretched in a million directions, teenage girls put up shields, little boys are full of boundless energy and babies are unpredictable. It’s why he decided that for the sequel, “Incredibles 2 ,“ a buoyant and quick-witted romp, he’d pick up right where we left off, in that parking lot after Dash’s track meet where a new threat emerges from underground. No matter that in reality, 14 years had actually passed. Animation is not bound by time or aging actors.

For the rest of us, however, 14 years is still 14 years. And in the past 14 years, the business of Hollywood has become the business of superhero movies.


It’s hard to remember a time when there weren’t a dozen a year. But when “The Incredibles” came out in 2004, they were still a bit of an anomaly at the multiplex — its cheeky, mockumentary realism, its jokes about capes, secret identities, “monologue-ing” and the dangers of toxic, obsessive fandom was the perfect introduction (and indoctrination) to superheroes for those who couldn’t care less. Pixar magic made superhero believers out of the skeptics. And by 2008, we all thought, sure, let’s see about this Tony Stark fellow and someone called Iron Man.

In “Incredibles 2,“ it seems like Bird himself is wrestling with a culture he helped facilitate — not totally dissimilar to what Steven Spielberg did earlier this year in “Ready Player One.“ But instead of nostalgia on trial, it’s superheroes and screens.

The villain here is called Screenslaver, who uses screens to hypnotize anyone watching. It’s both the most retro plan of all (keeping with Bird’s love of the 60s aesthetic) and still somehow utterly modern. Annoyed by how blindly and wholly consumerist everyone has become at the mercy of screens and simulated experiences in lieu of real ones, from movies to video games, Screenslaver has set out to end that, and squash Municiberg’s dependence on and obsession with superheroes. As with the first, there are a million ideas at play here (not a flaw, by the way), including evolving family dynamics.

Most of the original voice cast has returned, including Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl, Bird as Edna Mode, Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr and Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone (the only slight change in the main players is that Dash Parr is now voiced by Huck Milner). And once again, superheroes are still on shaky ground in Municiberg and are put on ice after the Parr family accidentally damages some public property while trying to take down a criminal.

But a wealthy heir and superhero appreciator Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech savvy sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) have a plan to rehabilitate their image. Right now, the public only sees the destruction. The Deavors propose outfitting superheroes with body cams to get exciting footage of their feats.

“Incredibles 2” provides a bit of a corrective on a micro level to the first film’s gender politics by sending mom off to work and making dad stay home (although wasn’t that a little antiquated 35 years ago?). The animation is also a heck of a lot better. “The Incredibles” looks downright primitive and even a tad ugly in retrospect.

Although it gets off to a slow start, ultimately it’s also quite a bit of fun, from the absurd (Jack Jack’s burgeoning powers) to the grounded (Dad helping Dash with his math homework or trying to make up for getting in the way of Violet’s date and embarrassing her even further in the process).

Like “Ready Player One,“ however, “Incredibles 2,“ kind of loses the thread by the end. A villain is a villain no matter how salient their point, and Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and their offspring are our heroes and thus we must root for them even while thinking that Screenslaver might be on to something.

It’s still fun to watch smart storytellers like Bird working within the system and using his platform to self-evaluate or comment on what’s going on, even if the conclusion is a little flimsy. Bird could have easily just brought back his lovable characters, leaned on Jack Jack’s antics and cashed in the check. It makes the effort and care here seem even more incredible.

“Incredibles 2,“ a Walt Disney Pictures release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “action sequences and some brief mild language.“ Running time: 118 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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MPAA Definition of PG: Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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