Jurassic World is a movie that was fun when I watched it in 2015 but hasn’t held up terribly well both in memory and on a second viewing. This is largely due to the story being a bit of a mess and the characters not being very interesting. The dinosaur segments still mostly work, but there isn’t much to the movie. Its sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, has similar issues, except the dinosaurs play less of a role in the middle segment, and the characters are even weaker.
Set three years after the last movie, Fallen Kingdom sets us up with a pretty interesting moral dilemma—that is almost immediately sidesteps and only gets back to at the very end. The island the remaining dinosaurs are on is soon to become a source of active volcanic activity. If they are left to their own devices, the dinosaurs will all die. Should humans intervene and save them, even though they’re our creations and were naturally extinct anyway? There wouldn’t be a movie if the choice was to leave them alone, so a couple of characters from the last movie go in to try to save them.
Those people are Owen (Chris Pratt), who trained raptors in the last film, and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who ran the Jurassic World park and now heads a dinosaur-rights group. They’re approached by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), who claims to want to save the dinosaurs and put them in a sanctuary. The only problem? Blue, Owen’s favorite raptor, can’t be captured without him. And Claire needs to come to re-activate the tracking system. Things go bad from there; to say more would spoil what the film hopes is “fun.”
The action is not very inventive and the stakes feel surprisingly low. The villain reveal is lame and one you’ve probably already predicted. The characters don’t grow an inch from what we saw last time out; Blue gets more development than any of the returning humans, and probably more than any of the new ones, too. And while dinosaurs may always be cool, there’s much less of an “awe factor” this time out. It might be the way the film presents them—they’re star attractions last time after nearly a couple of decades of absence—or it may just be that they don’t get a whole lot to do in this one. Not until the end, that is.
On the positive side, the dinosaurs still look great, the cast’s chemistry is strong—even if their characters are not—and the final 30 minutes or so are pretty fun. It also leaves itself open for what could, potentially, be a very enjoyable sequel. Then again, so did the fifth Resident Evil movie. And we all know how its follow-up turned out. I’m just saying.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a mediocre movie, one that doesn’t have the characters or plot to carry it through its multiple dull segments. It has some fun moments, a couple of horror-lite scenes, its cast has solid chemistry, and it leaves itself open for what could be a truly bonkers sequel, but on the whole feels like a disappointment over the amusement park ride that was its predecessor. It feels like it treads water for a lot of its running time. It’s unnecessary viewing.
Conclusion: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a surprisingly dull dinosaur movie.
Recommendation: If you loved Jurassic World then maybe give Fallen Kingdom a chance.