For all its stupidity, 2015’s Jurassic World was probably the best film about a dinosaur since The Iron Lady. Like the original Jurassic Park it combined our love of dinosaurs, theme parks and asexual reproduction. But sequels to those movies are prone to a reptile dysfunction, as they have to contrive reasons for the characters to voluntarily go back to a horrific island. Like the people in Lost, or anyone planning on going to the next Fyre Festival.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom starts with Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) doing some exposition and proving that life does indeed find a way (of tricking people who watch the trailer into thinking he’s in the movie). He explains that the island that once housed the Jurassic World theme park (until its unforeseen health and safety violation) is home to a massive volcano, which was weirdly never mentioned in the first film. This volcano is about to erupt and destroy the island along with all the dinosaurs. The prospect of this guilt-free dinopocalypse (or Raptor Rapture) would have any sensible person jumping at the chance to let the dinosaurs die, and the franchise with it.
But former Jurassic World supervisor and woman with a very good lawyer Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) has set up a Dinosaur Protection Group (really) and wants to save the creatures, despite having personally witnessed enough dino destruction to make most people unable to endure so much as an episode of Barney without pissing themselves. So she and Owen (Chris Pratt) go back to the island like the Vengaboys before them, along with a pair of comic-relief interns. Presumably in case the dinosaurs need any teas or coffees. Upon landing and seeing a Diplodocus, paleo-veterinarian Zia (Daniella Pineda) exclaims: “I never thought I’d see a real dinosaur!” Even though she’s a dinosaur doctor. That’s like a vet freaking out over the sight of a pug.
That Jurassic Park movies don’t make a whole lot of sense is a given, but Fallen Kingdom‘s disregard for logic is so obnoxious that it becomes impossible to enjoy on even the simplest of levels. Last time Claire was wearing inappropriate high heels, but here her footwear is pretty much the only thing that’s been thought through (and that’s only because everyone complained, apart from Melania Trump who saw the film as a kind of disaster zone fashion manual). And the new characters are just as useless. There’s Rafe (son of Tim) Spall, Geraldine (daughter of Charlie) Chaplin and James (son of John) Cromwell, an actor whose animal rights activism seems to sit uncomfortably with Chris Pratt’s love of hunting. Then there’s the extinking screenplay, full of lines like: “It was a lie, it was a lie, bastards, it was all a lie!” Imagine that: a script full of dinosaurs yet no one thought to reach for the thesaurus.
None of this is to fault J.A. Bayona’s typically effective directing (and it’s still better than The Lost World), but ultimately this fifth Jurassic Park picture is an insult to the name Jurassic 5. It’s testament to the shoddiness of Solo: A Star Wars Story that this isn’t the worst movie involving one of the Howard family from the last month, but here’s the T: it Rex the franchise all over again.