You know how most "Jurassic Park" movies have some sort of sweet, peaceful scene of majestic wonder? Where onlookers gape in awe at prehistoric creatures roaming the countryside? The part where the protagonists appreciate nature's wonder, along with science's ability to bring back the world's past to live in harmony with its present?
"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" skips all that and gets straight to the part where they're trying to rip your arms off and use it to beat your lifeless corpse. The movie is all about how terrifying it would be to have dinosaurs within chasing distance of you.
Closer to a traditional action movie than any film in the franchise, the beasts are the clear-cut enemy this time out. Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the ever-bickering, dino wrangling lovebirds from the last film, are back in the fracas. This time out, nefarious arms businessmen have taken over custody of the creatures, pretending to rescue them from a natural disaster while secretly intending to weaponize them and sell them off to the highest-bidding warlords.
The setup is really just an excuse to have Owen and Claire scamper through a dank dino holding facility, always staying a half-step out of the range of the chomping, flesh-ripping creatures.
Past "Jurassic Park" films excelled in quiet, nondescript moments that built up tension. Think the rippling water glass or the slinking, doorknob-turning raptors.
Subtlety is not this movie's strong point.
There is exactly one nice dinosaur in the group. That would be Blue, the hyperintelligent, sympathetic raptor that Owen has trained since birth, and who was a hero in the last movie. Even Blue has his ornery side, though, and for most of the movie it's Owen, Claire and assorted stragglers against the Jurassic World.
Director J.A. Bayona ratchets up the horror, crafting some truly chilling set pieces that could shock and scare children. Or adults, for that matter. While the all-in obsession with grim scares makes the film less artistic, most people don't come to movies like this for subtlety.
Those who want to be dazzled by effects and vicariously experience the terror of leaping through the chomping jaws of a t-rex to safety will find just what they're looking for.
RATING: 3 stars out of 4.