It’s almost impressive how a movie can be as absurd as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, while at the same time being a fairly enjoyable thrill ride. If you can set aside the oh-so-numerous plot holes, inability to stay true to its own logic, and a plot that relies on things happening because the movie needs them to, it’s, at the very least entertaining. From a top level though, it’s fairly obvious that the Jurassic movies are now just another Sharknado with better actors and bigger budgets.
There are moral quandaries at the center of Kingdom, the first of which is that Isla Nublar, the abandoned island where the theme park was destroyed in the last film, is being destroyed by an active volcano (something you would’ve thought they would’ve sorted prior to building a billion-dollar amusement park, but why quibble), and there’s disagreement over what to do with the dinosaurs that were left behind. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) return to lead a rescue mission to save the animals for Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the rich former partner of original park creator John Hammond. Lockwood is dying, and he wheezes in his wheelchair, watching over his granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon), because what would these movies be without at least one child in jeopardy. Lockwood’s foundation is run by the slick Eli (Rafe Spall), who, shockingly, has ulterior motives for the rescue of the creatures.
The first part of the movie, the rescue operation on the island, is well set up and executed. It makes sense from a story point of view, the new supporting characters-tech-expert Franklin (Justice Smith) and dino-vet Zia (Daniella Pineda)-are great additions, and even the more outlandish moments, mainly the complete ignorance of the realities of lava, are tempered with the proper amount of hilarity (Pratt’s numbed escape from the lava) and action (the water escape). It’s when the characters and dinos make it to mainland America that things go from exciting to eye-rolly, even amidst the jump scares and action-heroics.
The Impossible director J.A. Bayona picks up the reigns from Colin Trevorrow, who wrote and directed the previous installment, only back as co-writer. His pacing of the action, and adding a more horror-like element are welcome. His over-reliance and ludicrous plotting less so. He feels like a good fit for the material, if only the material were better.
Pratt’s inherent charm, Howard’s grounded performance, and some of the interesting questions raised, help the movie from falling into merely hate-watching territory. Really, they needed to make Zia the central figure because she was awesomely refreshing. This continual need, however, to grow more and more ludicrous will (hopefully) necessitate another rest for the series after the final installment of this trilogy in a few years.
My Grade – C