More a Jurassic World theme park ride than a movie.
Back in 2015, the arrival of “Jurassic World” was a historic one. It had been nearly a decade and a half since the much maligned “Jurassic Park 3”, and eager audiences paid their hard earned dollar in droves in en route to the largest opening weekend of all time (for 6 months) and one of the highest opening weekends of all time. With the dinosaurs once again becoming a money printer for the studio, a sequel was greenlit quickly, and three years since the world welcomed its return, the park has reopened once again for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”
Three years after the events of “Jurassic: World”, a group of mercenaries funded by the estate of John Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), has extracted remains from Isla Nublar, the park’s abandoned island, despite push-back from the US Government and mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). The park’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), is contacted by Lockwood’s aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), to partake in a mission to relocate the remaining dinosaurs to a new sanctuary, including the velociraptor Blue. Despite initial rejection, Claire’s former flame and velociraptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), partakes in the mission as well. The two discover the Lockwood estate’s plans are not the virtuous mission it was pitched as, and must find a way to stop the estate from taking the cloning of the extinct creatures to a point of no return.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” isn’t so much a movie as it is a theme park ride, much like one you’d see at the Universal Studios resort. Though it gets off to a slow start after its action packed opening, the film’s first act is a non-stop action thrill ride filled to the brim with scientific impossibilities, explosions, chases, and most importantly, dinosaurs. This undoubtedly is the high point of the movie, and once the film leaves the self titled “Fallen Kingdom”, it somehow devolves into even more preposterous territory.
The second and third acts of “Fallen Kingdom” may take place mostly on the Lockwood estate, but attempt to tackle the similar issues its predecessor dealt with, namely the introduction of a new super dinosaur that could one day be used not only as an attraction, but a weapon. There’s a tinge of Universal’s classic monster horror films in there with the dinosaurs lurking within the creepy, tucked away estate in Northern California, but it’s much too silly to truly generate scares for anyone over the age of 8 years old. Other interesting theories and conflicts arise such as the endangered species and cloning dilemmas, along with asking the question of if the creators and trainers of such clones are just as responsible as the ones who are selling and exploiting the creatures, but they’re half baked ideas that are largely forgotten for humans versus dinosaurs al la “Home Alone” style.
Chris Pratt seems to be using these films as an audition tape to become the next Indiana Jones, and while a capable action star with presence, still hasn’t grown much as an actor. Bryce Dallas Howard manages to be more of a force than a damsel in distress in the last film, but her idealism of the extinct creatures despite evidence proving they should remain extinct is beyond eye rolling. The mysterious child of the Lockwood estate, played by Isabella Sermon, never rises above annoying kid in movie status, while Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, and Ted Levine all sleepwalk through their villainous roles. Goldblum barely gets out of his chair at a senate hearing to collect a paycheck, while James Cromwell would like you to hold his beer as he barely gets out of bed for his.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” isn’t necessarily a let down, but a sequel made because of a surging of 90s nostalgia that has yet to die down. With the heat of the summer upon us, audiences will look to “Fallen Kingdom” as an escape for summer pop-corn fun, which it is more then capable of being. But for a film that actually raises interesting questions that remain pertinent to today’s society, it’s a shame “Fallen Kingdom” plays it relatively safe and settles for dumb summer fun.
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. Pay low matinée price.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, and Jeff Goldblum. It is in theaters now.