There was a time, back in 1993, that the sight of dinosaurs on the big screen brought about a certain sense of majesty. When the Brachiosaurus shows up in JURASSIC PARK, it’s glorious. Fast-forward a quarter of a century or so and JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM conjures little of the magic of that first trip to Isla Nublar.
That’s not to say that this 2018 entry in the expansive series is a bad movie, but it is filled with a lot of sound and fury. Directed by J. A. Bayona, who debuted with the chilling 2007 horror THE ORPHANAGE, JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM continues the thread of JURASSIC WORLD by believing that more is definitely more.
As the film begins, we learn that the dinosaurs that remain on Isla Nublar – the site of the events of JURASSIC WORLD – are about to be rendered extinct thanks to a volcanic eruption. Fortunately or unfortunately, several people want to save the dinosaurs for various reasons. That includes activist Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who brings along Owen (Chris Pratt) to help snag a particular dinosaur.
Plot-wise, JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM has potential. The notion of de-extinct animals rambling the Earth in an environment no longer suitable for them creates a number of quandaries, but the picture doesn’t spend time unloading any ethics. Characters just act and deal with the consequences, while Jeff Goldblum’s character bookends the proceedings.
Somewhere in the Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow script is some consideration as to the consequences of these splaying actions, but dinosaurs (!) and explosions (!) are the name of the game. And boy, are there a lot of dinosaurs and explosions. JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM is so replete with dinosaurs that more dinosaurs are needed to craft a badder beast for the thunderous climax.
Óscar Faura’s cinematography captures the action well, but there’s just so much. A scene involving a dinosaur stampede set against the milieu of a volcanic eruption never really achieves the exhilarating peak that it should, while the climactic scenes concerning a pillaging Indoraptor lack resonance and horror.
While JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM runs through its expected paces, it’s hard to shake the idea that things are so very mechanical. There’s no denying the thrill of Bayona’s flick as popcorn entertainment and it is an effective if redundant B-movie. It’s fun watching the Tyrannosaurus rex show up on cue, although by this point it probably should have its own theme music.
At the same time, the utter lack of surprise and significance keeps this science fiction film from taking a bite out of things. The characters are dull, the performances are so evidently cast against things that aren’t there that they become hysterical and the appearance of more dinosaurs than ever before overwhelms JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM with so much stuff that it can’t contain itself.