Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom rehashes the tired tale of test tube dinosaurs breaking out of their cages to kill and maim scores of people, but this time tries to convince you to care about the fate of these scaly critters. The creatures created in 2015’s Jurassic World are trapped on Isla Nublar as a not-so-dormant volcano is erupting and attempting to do the world a solid favor by returning these ancient monsters to fossil form.
However, scientist now turned dinosaur rights activist, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and raptor whisperer, Owen (Chris Pratt) have been contracted to help capture the remaining animals and take them to a private sanctuary. Obviously the plan goes off the rails nearly immediately, but the ensuing chaos leads to some actually pretty great frames of cinematography as well as some clever imagery. One heartbreaking scene of a brontosaurus enclosed in a steam cloud as lava hits the water around it had me questioning if some of these beasts truly deserved their demise. Another artsy shot that stuck out was when the reflection of a more vicious dinosaur crossed over the reflection a person’s face to create the image of a ghastly human/dino hybrid. Possibly alluding to the dino-men that were included in the script of the Jurassic Park IV, or a future sequel? Who cares? I don’t. Or do I?
Other than a few more well put together shots, that’s really all Fallen Kingdom has going for it. Chris Pratt continues his trademark goofy gruffness and the CGI dinosaurs look pretty good and blend well with their practical/animatronic counterparts.
One of the first couple scenes features dinosaur rights activists protesting in front of congress as they make their decision whether or not to help relocate the dinosaurs from the volcanic island. Footage of the dinosaur rights protesters is crossed with footage of park guests that survived the events at Jurassic World and congress quickly decides they won’t intervene as the dinosaurs are dangerous and technically private property of InGen, the corporation behind the park. While not necessarily a demerit against this movie as it’s just a weird plot device in a weird movie, I found this intro to be a disservice to real social activists, as it made them look like they were for dinosaur rights over the cost of human lives and it also made our government look capable at making competent decisions. Both of which are not true in our current climate.
Moving on from odd political allegories in the film, one of the reasons I am so excited to see Jurassic Park sequels is because I’m holding out that one of these movies will capture a little magic that made the original movie so enduring. The fascination and sliver of plausibility that made you believe “what if dinosaurs really could be cloned from amber?”. However, as the sequels move away from science fiction and into the action category, my hope for a sequel that I will enjoy fades away.
But, if you are looking for action, Fallen Kingdom has that, even if the quality is varying. One of the biggest problems I had while watching the movie was not laughing out loud at how ridiculous some of the action scenes were. Blue, Chris Pratt’s pet raptor from the first film, gets one of these bonkers sequences in which the raptor turns its head to notice a hole in a canister behind it, smells the combustible gas leaking out of it, then jumps out of a window, James Bond style, to avoid the explosion. Who comes up with this stuff?
With borderline hilarious, mind-boggling action throughout, a weird head scratching plot twist that has absolutely zero payoff, and an absurd ending, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom is only for dinosaur enthusiasts. If you want to catch some of the cool visuals on the big screen, it could be worth a cheap seat ticket. But otherwise, if you don’t fit into those other two groups, stream it at home with some friends, popcorn, and just laugh at the insanity that is Fallen Kingdom.