Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the sequel to the 2015 massive commercial success, Jurassic World. Overall, it is the fifth entry in the Jurassic Park franchise which has been a highly successful franchise. Its plot generally revolves around the same tropes the other films have carried (maybe with the exception of #3). Dinosaurs are here. We’ve played God to genetically create and/or modify them. Undoubtedly some large and nebulous super company has an ostensibly good idea of what to do with them. It never goes as planned.
When Roger Ebert wrote his review for the original Jurassic Park he compared it to Jaws, but lamented that, unlike Jaws, Jurassic Park was too eager to show its creatures right away. Well…Fallen Kingdom makes the first entrance of the T-Rex in the original look like an incredibly slow burn. Here we hit the ground running. Literally. Our CGI dinosaur is at us right away, leading to some poor schmuck running for his life. I bet you can imagine how it ends.
From here we continue on to Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldbloom) philosophizing before a Congressional panel of what we are exactly to do with these dinos. This scene borderlines on an environmental allegory, but then that theme is quickly forgotten and never revisited.
Next, we follow up on what Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is up to since Jurassic World. She’s part of a group to preserve the dinosaur population (Isla Nublar is about to have a huge volcanic eruption.). If that is not a clear case of Stockholm Syndrome, I don’t know what is. We all saw what happened to her in the previous film, right? She meets with an elderly rich benefactor (imagine that) who shares her mission and off she goes to recruit a team to bring to the island–including Justice Smith and Daniela Pineda (who both deliver great performances).
I don’t think I need to say any more because I’m sure you know where this will be going. This film contains a few half-baked attempts at paying homage to the original film (the kitchen scene, mirror trickery, door knobs opening, etc.) They just make you shrug your shoulders. There is some light humor that is perhaps intended to provide comic relief, but it really just makes you mildly giggle. There is also a handful of obvious or redundant lines like “We need to get out!” Well, yes, you really do and we obviously can see that, so the reinforcement of saying that is somewhat insulting. The film also suffers from being formulaic to an extreme fault. From the moment all the main characters are introduced you already know who are the bad guys with nefarious intentions. The biggest question is: “What dinosaur is going to eat them?”
Speaking of dinosaurs, we have the usual suspects here (t-rex, velociraptor, etc), but what was particularly confusing were the species of ambiguity that pop up all throughout. The original took its time to introduce all types very intentionally, but here we just get thrown all sorts of scary, fast, large monsters with huge teeth and no time to figure out what it is. Did they cross breed? Are there other genetically modified ones? Nope. We get mild explanation, if that, as to why that is.
The action is fine. It probably cost a lot of money to make this, so there is no shortage of explosions or set pieces and, unlike Jurassic World, the product placement is mercifully exempt. Chris Pratt is decent, but as my friend pointed out, would you even be able to remember his character’s name? I couldn’t. That’s the sign of deeply absent some character development.There are obviously cliched characters, but we don’t dig (no pun intended) deeper into them other than that.
There is almost no scene in here where there isn’t a dinosaur featured, particularly toward the end where the film almost turns into a gothic haunted house featuring big scary monsters. I think this does a disservice to developing any real tension like we had seen in the original. Sure, it’s a somewhat fun popcorn movie that I’m sure will have girls shrieking and boys geeking out. Still, I think the filmmakers are just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Not a lot does.