“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the latest installment in the series, is a fun ride that has everything: Brave heroes, evil villains and nonstop action.
One hundred and twenty miles off the coast of Costa Rica is the island of Isla Nubla, the home of all of the dinosaur creatures from the past “Jurassic” films. You do not need to know the difference between Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex. You just have to know that if you come against any one of them, they will swallow you whole or in bite-size pieces.
Erupting volcanoes threaten to destroy the island and all of its inhabitants. Congress refuses to act to save the dinosaurs, bolstered by the testimony of dinosaur expert Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum, part of the original film). “We altered the course of natural history. The volcano is correcting it.”
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) disagrees with both Congress and Dr. Malcolm. She is enlisted by The Lockwood Foundation, headed by the elderly Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) to help rescue the dinosaurs. Claire is given a large budget by Lockwood’s administrator, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) to find a new home for the dinosaurs.
“He wanted someone young and idealistic to spend his fortune,” Eli tells Claire. “I used to be both.”
She enlists eager Paleotenarian (loosely translated, dinosaur doctor) Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and reluctant technician Franklin Webb (Justice Smith). Claire also tracks down former partner and paramour Owen Grady (Chris Pratt).
“Save the dinosaurs from an island that’s about to explode? What could go wrong?,” he asks her.
They descend onto the hot island. “It’s about to get a whole lot harder,” Owen says, delivering a line that sets the tone for the entire film that is reminiscent of 1940s cliffhangers.
Owen reconnects with the creature called Blue, the dinosaur he raised and trained. The heroes are double crossed. Mills does not want to rescue the dinosaurs. A team of mercenaries, led by Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine) are taking the dinosaurs back in cages to Northern California where they are to be auctioned off to the highest bidder in an auction of international bad guys. The bad guys want to weaponize the reptiles, including mixing strains and breeds. Dr. Wu (BD Wong) has created a new generation of predatory dinosaurs that kill on command. It is up to our heroes to stop them.
Mr. Pratt is the current generation’s great action hero — equal parts earnestness and swagger. He and Ms. Howard have great chemistry. The great supporting cast includes Toby Jones as a malevolent auctioneer, Isabella Sermon as Lockwood’s granddaughter and Geraldine Chapman as her nanny.
“Don’t do this for me. Don’t do this for you,” master thief Debbie Ocean tells her team. “Somewhere there is an 8-year-old girl lying in bed, dreaming of being a criminal. Do it for her.” Ocean’s Eight is a smart, fun, and exciting caper film with a great cast.
When we first meet Debbie, sister to the late con artist and thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney), she is before a parole board hearing in prison. “Parole is a privilege that requires you to stay away from people with criminal records. Can you do that?”
“Yes,” Debbie replies.
“Even from your own family?”
She leaves prison and is wished well by one of the guards. “Where are you going?”
“Dierdre, I have 45 bucks. I can go anywhere.”
In Manhattan, the still talented and crooked Debbie manages to hustle fancy clothes and cosmetics from Bergdorf Goodman and a room at the plush Plaza Hotel. She visits her brother’s mausoleum ad sits in contemplation as she is greeted and admonished by an old friend, Reuben Tischler (Elliot Gould), part of her brother’s Ocean’s 11. “Sometimes knowing that the job will work is satisfaction enough. You don’t gotta do it.”
Debbie is determined to pull off a big heist. She finds her former partner, Lou (Cate Blanchett).
“Why do you need to do this?” Lou asks.
“Because it’s what I’m good at,” Debbie replies.
They assemble a team, which includes hacker Nine Ball (Rhianna), down on her luck fashion designer Rose Weill (Helena Bonham Carter), jewelry expert Amita (Mindy Kaling), three card monte expert and pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), and fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson), whose garage is filled with stolen items.
“How do you explain all this to your husband?” Debbie asks.
When her son asks her what kind of work she does, Tammy glibly explains: “Mommy finds very special toys and finds new homes for them.”
The caper, which Debbie has been planning for “five years, eight months and 12 days,” is to rob the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala of a Cartier diamond necklace worth $150 million, amid the crown jewels from eight European royal families. The caper involves a famous actress, self-absorbed Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway in a fun role).
The great supporting cast includes James Corden as an insurance investigator and cameos by Common, Serana Williams, Heidi Klum, Marlo Thomas, Dana Ivey, Mary Louise Wilson and Elizabeth Ashley. Ms. Bullock is terrific as the crafty leader.
The film is stylish and fast paced with great music, including subtle and effective feminist touches, including the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” theme, and Tina Sinatra singing “These Boots are Made for Walkin’,” also reminding us of her father, the first Danny Ocean.