Published Jun 21, 2018The tone of the original 1993 Jurassic Park film was one of awe-inspiring wonder, as the filmmakers resurrected dinosaurs before our eyes — not via DNA trapped in amber, but through stunning recent developments in CGI.
A quarter-century later, that thrill has long since worn off. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn't remotely attempt to approximate the big-hearted majesty of the original. Rather, it's a straight-ahead monster movie: it's dumb, occasionally gory, and mostly plenty of fun.
This film picks up where 2015's Jurassic World left off, with raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and dino advocate Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) fighting to save the ancient lizards from a volcanic extinction event on the fictional Isla Nublar. Their well-intentioned efforts are interrupted by an implausible plotline, in which a team of fat cat baddies attempt to weaponize dinosaurs for military use. (Are we really expected to believe that dinos would be an effective wartime weapon in this age of drones and nukes?)
From the get-go, Fallen Kingdom is all about action, action, action. There are lots of flashy chase scenes and tense standoffs, and it's not too long before the bad guys start getting their comeuppance, when the dinosaurs fight back against their captors. Remember that scene from the first movie when Newman from Seinfeld gets fucked up by a dilophosaurus? Fallen Kingdom contains many such moments of gleeful schadenfreude.
Pratt and Howard don't have even the slightest flicker of chemistry, but Pratt earns some laughs with his dry quips, proving he hasn't lost the comic timing of his Parks and Recreation days. Daniella Pineda and Justice Smith provide stellar comic relief in their sidekick roles, and director J.A. Bayona keeps things effectively claustrophobic, with much of the action unfolding in a spooky manor that serves as both palatial mansion and dinosaur holding facility. The setting gives the film a creepy gothic undertone, and a fantastic scene in which a super-smart dino sneaks through a bedroom window is the stuff of nightmares.
The times when Fallen Kingdom aims for gravity or sincerity fall flat. But these moments never last for too long, and then we're onto the next scene with a dinosaur ripping a bad guy's arm off. It won't rekindle your childhood fascination with dinosaurs, but it makes for a suitably silly creature feature.