Directed by J. A. Bayona, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the latest film in the Jurassic Park franchise. It follows 2015's Jurassic World as Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the dinosaur island that devolved into chaos the last time.
Taking a page out of The Lost World, this fifth instalment of the series gives Owen and Claire the rather flimsy "let's save the dinosaurs!" excuse to get them back on the island, because the animal rights angle was so convincing in the aforementioned earlier movie that we simply had to revisit it. The titular theme park's auto-destruction complete, nature is set to finish the job as the island's volcano is close to erupting, which would kill every creature living on it. When Claire is called by John Hammond's old partner Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) and his aide Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), who want her to lead the expedition back to Isla Nublar, she decides to hire the help of her old pal Owen and, although he is reluctant at first (I wonder why), they soon both set off back on another, possibly misguided, adventure.
Again, just like in The Lost World, once they land on the island they soon encounter some shady mercenaries who don't happen to see the dinosaurs for the puppies both Claire and Owen seem to think they are and a hidden agenda is revealed except, this time, there's a lot less Jeff Goldblum involved. But, as you know, any Jeff Goldblum is still some Jeff Goldblum and that is good.
There's a naiveté and looseness to Fallen Kingdom that's both kind of refreshing and infuriating as well. The main characters are even more one-dimensional than they were in the last movie to the point where, strangely, the dinosaurs feel a lot more human than them so don't expect much, or any, character development this time around. Plus, the new recruits are admittedly quite annoying. The plot is also hardly complex and quite cartoonish but there's something endearing about this film's simplicity and willingness to get to the point quickly, no matter how silly said point may be.
The original Jurassic Park built its suspenseful sequences and impressive visuals on a ridiculous B-movie-style premise but the film was so well made, so sharply written and the characters were so likeable that, like with Spielberg's Indiana Jones trilogy, it turned a potentially too cheesy plot into a fun popcorn blockbuster with some genuinely unnerving horror elements. Fallen Kingdom, in all fairness, gets this mostly right, or at least it understands it better than Jurassic World did.
Every late-in-the-game sequel is, unfortunately, also forced to act as a soft remake so Jurassic World painstakingly took its time to introduce us to likeable yet mostly bland new characters before going through pretty much the same beats as the original film. This left many fans feeling unsatisfied as the film seemed to go through the motions a little bit, despite updated CG effects. Fallen Kingdom is also derivative of a previous film but it wisely (?) sacrifices its brains and its characters' own deeper emotions and stories for a rather to-the-point, goofy disaster movie with a lot more schlocky horror moments.
This will please those who appreciate the carnage and madness of the Jurassic Park movies but annoy anyone expecting this movie to build on the last one. Where The Lost World was rather dull and heavy-going, this is a non-stop, light-hearted, yet often intense ride through a crumbling island and, after that, the bizarre world of... dinosaur auctions. It's over-the-top, quite dumb, especially near the end, and it's overall pretty shallow but it's also enjoyably nuts.
Not everyone will be onboard with this one as it feels a lot more like, say, Jurassic Park III than it does any of the other films in the franchise: it embraces its B-movie core and goes all-out, playfully making you laugh and jump in equal amounts. And if that sounds like fun to you, if it sounds like what a good popcorn movie should be, then you'll have a good time with it. I did.