Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a little bit toothless

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Review by Matthew Turner

Everyone's favourite dinosaurs are back in this sequel to 2015's franchise reboot. But can the fifth film in the Jurassic Park series still deliver the thrills?

Seemingly aware of the law of diminishing returns, even where dinosaurs are concerned, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom tries out a few new ideas, with mostly successful results.

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But the sense of wonder and awe is missing this time around. And as for Jeff Goldblum's much teased appearance...

The film begins on Isla Nubar, the site of the previous film, where a newly active volcano is threatening to make the dinosaurs extinct. Again.

Manly dino-whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and former park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are recruited by philanthropic billionaire Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) to help evacuate the dinosaurs from the island, along with Claire's new assistants, dino-vet Zia (Daniella Pineda) and tech geek Franklin (Justice Smith).

However, Lockwood's estate manager Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) intends to auction off the surviving dinosaurs to a selection of super-rich clientele, be they collectors, hunters or military types seeking to weaponise the toothy creatures.

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This gives us Toby Jones' slimy auctioneer (complete with a Trump-like hairpiece), and means the majority of the film's running time takes place in a large mansion house, where Mills has the dinosaurs under lock and key. It also means that the dinosaurs are caged for far too long, so that you're actively rooting for them to escape and start biting baddies.

A little bit toothless

When it comes to the biting, it's hard to escape the feeling that this film has been somewhat de-fanged. There are suggestions that grislier, more satisfying moments have been left on the cutting room floor.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom tries to do something new, but still feels in the shadow of the original (Photo: Universal Pictures)

Generally, the dinosaurs-loose-in-a-giant-house set-up works surprisingly well, and at least the film is trying to do something different from the other four entries in the franchise.

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To that end, there's plenty to enjoy here. Highlights include a scary new dinosaur stalking a little girl (newcomer Isabella Sermon) in her bedroom, and Owen and Claire trying to extract a blood sample from a sleeping T-Rex.

However, it's also fair to say that the sense of wonder and awe is missing this time round, despite director J.A. Bayona striving hard to replicate key moments and shots from the original film.

Sensible footwear this time

Unfortunately, those moments end up backfiring, reminding you of the first (and still the best) movie, and functioning as fan-service callbacks, instead of working in the moment.

As for the performances, it's clear that lessons have been learned from the previous film, and the occasionally irritating characterisation has been largely toned down.

(Photo: Universal Pictures)

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Pratt keeps his goofy, cocksure persona to a bare minimum, while Howard is much more sympathetic this time round, and is pointedly shown wearing sensible footwear.

However, if your primary reason to see Fallen Kingdom is the return of Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm, then prepare for disappointment. He's only around for a short cameo, most of which is in the trailer.

Director: J.A. BayonaStarring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, B.D. Wong, Rafe Spall, Daniella Pineda, Geraldine Chaplin, Kamil Lemieszewski, Justice Smith, Peter JasonGenre: Fantasy / ThrillerCountry: United StatesRelease date: 6 June, 2018Cert: 12ARunning time: 128 mins

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[Main image: Universal Pictures]

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