What’s in theaters this week: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ and heist caper ‘American Animals’

Published June 20
Updated June 20

OPENING FRIDAY:

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

Dinosaurs: Keep them alive or kill them off? It’s a question that haunts the human characters in between fireball-dodging cardio workouts in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the spectacularly ho-hum new entry in Hollywood’s longest-running parable about the fatal idiocy of messing with Mother Nature. Five films deep into a franchise that has grossed more than $2 billion worldwide over a quarter-century, that question might seem less applicable to the dinosaurs than to the movies themselves.

In this sequel, the doomed dinosaur theme park we visited in 2015 on the remote Isla Nublar is about to be swallowed up by a conveniently reactivated volcano, and Universal Pictures appears to have been especially magma-nimous with regard to the CGI lava budget.

All that fire-belching mayhem is accompanied by some similarly explosive moral hand-wringing: Are these genetically engineered dinosaurs entitled to the same U.S. government protections extended to other endangered species? No, argues chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, back for a quick cameo).

But former park employees Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) launch their own daring counter-argument, returning to Isla Nubar to rescue as many of the surviving dinosaurs as possible — including Blue, the extraordinarily intelligent and empathetic velociraptor whom Owen trained as a hatchling — and relocate them to another island sanctuary. Of course, nothing goes according to plan. (130 minutes, PG-13)

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

AMERICAN ANIMALS

An allure of heist movies is the clockwork precision of seeing an audacious idea conceived and executed. American Animals takes a very different approach — the characters’ grandiose fantasies go every kind of wrong.

The movie tells the saga of a failed caper in which four male college students attempted to steal millions of dollars of rare books from Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., in December 2004.

The friends (Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Jared Abrahamson, Blake Jenner) make for an unlikely gang of criminals, all with seemingly bright futures ahead.

Writer-director Bart Layton intercuts the narrative told with the actors and documentary interview footage shot with the real four wanna-be criminals, their families and others. The documentary sections provide a counterpoint to the glossy, aspirational cool of the fiction. (116 minutes, R)

Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Timese_SClBCriticS’ picks

mFirst Reformed: A bored, despairing country preacher (Ethan Hawke) is spiritually awakened when counseling a young parishioner (Phillip Ettinger) considering an act of environmental terrorism.

Deadpool 2: More darkly comic adventures about a superhero (Ryan Reynolds) who can’t die but sometimes wants to.

RBG: Brisk, informative, often moving documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

UPCOMING RELEASES

June 29: Sicario: Day of the Soldado; Uncle Drew; The Hustle; Leave No Trace; Valley Girl; Three Identical Strangers

July 6: Ant-Man and the Wasp; Sorry to Bother You; Whitney

July 13: Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation; Skyscraper; Eighth Grade

July 20: The Equalizer 2; Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again; Blindspotting

July 27: Mission: Impossible — Fallout; Teen Titans Go to the Movies

Aug. 3: The Darkest Minds; Disney’s Christopher Robin; Mile 22; The Spy Who Dumped Me; The Wife; Searching

Aug. 10: The Meg; BlacKkKlansman

Aug. 15: Crazy Rich Asians

Aug. 17: The Happytime Murders; Juliet, Naked; Alpha

Aug. 24: Slender Man

     
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