“DO you remember the first time you saw a dinosaur,” someone asks in this fifth film inspired by author Michael Crichton’s cautionary tale of dinosaurs brought back to life through DNA. “It’s like a miracle.” And when Steven Spielberg’s ground-breaking Jurassic Park was released 25 years ago, it really was.

The challenge of the subsequent films has been how to replicate that sense of wonder. Spielberg’s immediate sequel simply met the need for another thrill-ride fix. Since then, to coin one of Al Pacino’s most famous lines, the question on everyone’s lips is: “What have you got?”

Fallen Kingdom has quite a lot. OK, like any film franchise there is plot cloning: children in peril, kind-hearted adventurers, greedy businessman looking to exploit the prehistoric creatures and a great deal of snacking. But there’s also solid characterisation, ethical dilemma, comedy, new locations and spectacular set-pieces.

Jurassic World ended with the Pacific island theme park abandoned and the dinosaurs left to their own devices. Three years on, a volcanic eruption is about to destroy the island. The world’s governments are prepared to allow another extinction. But with the help of a wealthy tycoon,

the park’s former manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and dinosaur wrangler Owen (Chris Pratt) team up to rescue as many as they can and relocate them to a sanctuary.

At least, that’s what they think they’re doing. Claire and Owen are being used, for her security access and his affinity with the smart and comparatively affable raptor, Blue, whose genes are required for a new kind of controllable, weaponised dinosaur. After saving themselves from the island, the pair set out to thwart the diabolical plan.

Howard and the very funny Pratt (a busy bee, with the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers), demonstrated a nice chemistry in the earlier film, as the prim miss and the rough-edged outdoorsman fell in love. In an interesting development, this time they are estranged, yet far more alike, with Claire now a dinosaur rights activist and a much tougher proposition in the field.

The pair have to deal with some responsibility for the current predicament, Claire having encouraged dodgy genetic engineering to boost visitor numbers at Jurassic World, Chris in showing that it’s possible for the dinosaurs to play ball. While they deal with that, the film’s scriptwriters load up the debate about the ethics of “genetic power”. Jeff Goldblum, who played the mathematician warning against playing God in the earlier films, returns to remind the world of the dangers of the path it’s now on.

But the emphasis is, still, on chills and thrills. And Spanish director J.A. Bayona’s earlier films –The Orphanage, A Monster Calls, and the tsunami drama The Impossible – show him more than adept at providing those.

The escape from the erupting island is incredibly exciting, with pathos too in a visually gorgeous image of a dying Brontosaurus. Scenes involving a new, sinister and conniving carnivore stalking its victims around a mansion, of all places, are genuinely scary, and for the first time present a dinosaur as the sort of monster more associated with horror films. And a brilliantly conceived dinosaur auction – conducted by Rafe Spall and Toby Jones’s delicious villains for an ensemble of warmongers and terrorists – is handled with wit and invention.

Fallen Kingdom is the second of a new trilogy that began with Jurassic World in 2015 and whose

strategy is to bring the dinosaurs out of seclusion and into the world at large. With that, the next film really could be doing something new with the Jurassic DNA.