Of all the big budget sequels being churned out at a rate of knots by the Hollywood machine, this might just be one of the dumbest to make its way onto cinema screens. The reason for its existence is obvious; the four previous Jurassic Park/World films have proven a box office bonanza and this one, no doubt, will prove no different. People love watching other people get eaten by dinosaurs; that much seems irrefutable given the success of these films and whilst technical wizardry in creating these CGI creatures is to be admired, a movie needs more than that to work as a piece of engaging entertainment. Pushing an already bonkers premise to extremes, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is so nonsensical that it is hard to imagine that anybody involved took it on for any reason other than the money. The filmmakers might like you to believe that this delivers some kind of exploration of the ethics surrounding the regeneration of extinct species, but don’t be fooled into believing that it is anything more than a cynical attempt at milking many more millions from multiplex audiences.
Events take place some three years after the events of Jurassic World that resulted in the park being closed down and the dinosaurs left to fend for themselves. Former park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is now working for a dinosaur advocacy group trying to secure the relocation of the animals in the wake of a volcanic eruption on the island that puts all of them in peril, secures promises of financial and logistical support from Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the former partner of John Hammond – the man responsible for successfully cloning the dinosaurs – to relocate the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary where they will live without human interference. Due to his affinity with the animals, Claire recruits Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to join her in returning to Isla Nublar to assist in the mission, However, unbeknownst to Claire or her benefactor, Lockwood’s offsider Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) has grander plans that include auctioning off the animals to fund the creation of a hybrid species, tasking our intrepid heroes – accompanied by Lockwood’s granddaughter (Isabella Sermon), a tech geek (Justice Smith) and a paleo-veterinarian (Zia Rodriguez) – to thwart Mills, his mad scientist sidekick Dr Wu (BD Wong) and their myriad henchmen.
From the opening seconds of this film, the fate of every character you meet is so obvious that there is no suspense to be had amidst the numerous action sequences, regardless of whether the human characters are battling the beasts or each other. The bad guys are so one-dimensional as to be almost comical, with Spall the most unintentionally amusing, due in equal part to the insipid screenplay and his ham-fisted performance. It is almost as though director J.A Bayona has decided that the dinosaurs are what matters most and everything else is inconsequential. Pratt’s role comprises little more than witty quips, a prevailing sense of masculine superiority and a charm that is, apparently, irresistible. Howard, meanwhile, spends the whole movie with a blank ‘what the fuck am I doing here’ look on her face, a sentiment no doubt shared by many of those in the cinema.
In her first ever role, Sermon is suitably cute as young Maisie, while Cromwell has nothing to do as Lockwood and neither Smith nor Rodriguez are given anything of substance with which they can showcase whatever talents they possess. Even Toby Jones fails to enliven proceedings as a smarmy opportunist, with Jeff Goldblum reprising his character from the first two films in the franchise, providing testimony to a Senate Hearing in scenes that bookend the action narrative and seem to serve little purpose other than to draw on Goldblum’s involvement as a means to instil come credibility to proceedings. It goes without saying that the ending sets up the next movie on the production line (which is already slated with Pratt and Howard seemingly attached) as the dinosaurs roam free on the American mainland with a smorgasbord of tasty morsels at their disposal. Sure, the effects technology (digital and otherwise) is impressive, but it is hardly groundbreaking anymore and, as a result, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn’t really offer anything we haven’t seen before.