Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom finds Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) now working as an activist trying to save the dinosaurs on the ill-fated Isla Nublar. A volcanic eruption is about the destroy the island, and will cause the re-extinction of the dinosaurs. She gets an offer from eccentric tycoon Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) to back an expedition to the island so that they can save some of the dinosaurs and transfer them to a sanctuary. She enlists the help of her old flame, the animal behaviorist Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), to track down the unusually intelligent velociraptor Blue. They fly out to the island and scramble to find the dinosaur before the volcano goes off.
As one might expect, there’s more to this expedition than first meets the eye. The Jurassic Park series has always been about the sinister intentions behind seemingly benign endeavors. This new sequel doesn’t really have anything new to say, the whole thing still functioning under the strained logic of the series as a whole. And while director JA Bayona does craft several compelling sequences, it can difficult to wade through the sheer silliness of what has been written.
It all comes down to the sinister intentions, which just don’t make any sense. Discussing further would likely constitute a spoiler, but suffice it to say that the function the baddies envision for the dinosaurs in this modern world is ridiculous. But even if one can get past this larger bit of silliness, the movie still struggles from scene to scene to make things just plain logical. The characters just feel empty, their general incompetence going well beyond what’s reasonable for the story. This goes for both heroes and villains, both sides of the equation just fumbling around this fantastical setting, their intentions muddled and their decisions all questionable.
The film’s set pieces do exhibit plenty of style, though. There’s just some crazy filmmaking on display at times. There’s an amazing sequence early on that takes place inside a confined space that plays out as one, unbroken take. Bayona is also constantly showing off his horror chops, having plenty of fun with light and shadow, often turning these gigantic creatures into almost invisible threats. The film may be just as dumb as the last installment, but it is much better equipped to sustain interest through the mounting of its biggest sequences.
Bryce Dallas Howard continues to be completely underwhelming in this role. The writing for the character just isn’t very good, and Howard doesn’t seem inclined to add more personality in her portrayal. Chris Pratt is one again weirdly squandered as Owen Grady as the role affords the actor little opportunity to be goofy. Justice Smith ends up taking the comic relief role, but this mostly entails acting as a stereotypical cowardly nerd. On a whole, the acting doesn’t seem to rise above the stock writing, which really does seem to set out to make characters a very defined type.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom can be sporadically fun, but the writing feels too lazy to enjoy it as a whole thing. It doesn’t really do much more than play around with the same themes already explored in the first two movies, its plot even reusing elements from those previous films. There’s so much talk in this film about how man doesn’t seem to learn from its mistakes, which turns out to be weirdly appropriate. Just as it’s become completely ludicrous in the world of the film for people to continue wanting to work with dinosaurs, it’s gotten really silly in the real world that these filmmakers just want to recreate the past.