Most sequels, prequels and remakes have some vague reason for justifying their existence. Not the Jurassic Park-Jurassic World franchise. They just keep on coming for no other purpose than to cash in on a proven formula marketed for undemanding audiences who just can’t get enough of T-Rexes and flying pterodactyls, and are always willing to plunk down more hard-earned money to scream their way through another excess of what they’ve already seen before. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the latest installment, has more dinosaurs, more screams, and more general chaos, but doesn’t make a single move to explore a fresh idea or add a new slant on a tired old formula. As brainless summer-escapism movies go, this one can’t go fast enough.
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM ★★
Steven Spielberg started all this, and no prehistoric dinosaur rip-off since he threw in the towel has delivered the same excitement or imagination. Still, they keep turning them out faster than a gerbil procreates.
Amazingly, the last Jurassic World chapter from 2015 reportedly grossed more than a billion dollars. This one, directed by Spain’s overrated J. A. Bayona (A Monster Calls), takes place three years after Isla Nublar, the theme park 120 miles east of Costa Rica overrun by howling creatures with bad breath, closed for good and millions were spent settling lawsuits filed by the survivors.
Nut cases are now debating animal-rights issues for flesh-eating creatures which, they insist, deserve the same kind of protection as the deer that carry Lyme disease. Miraculously, the deserted island comes to life again, unleashing hordes of hungry new predators eager to feast on children, studly heroes, sexy girls, and careless French poodles.
This time, the raptors take over—those flying, bat-winged carnivores with teeth like picket fences. When a volcano erupts, threatening to blow up the island and destroy what’s left of the 11 remaining species of dinosaurs in existence, animal lover Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) defies Congress and returns on an illegal rescue mission to save the endangered monsters, accompanied by returning dinosaur activists Chris Pratt, Jeff Goldblum and BD Wong, all seeking new career opportunities as—wait for it—”paleoveterinarians”.
They dream of a future sanctuary with no gates, walls or gaping tourists, where dinosaurs can roam free and safe from movie stars in high heels. Howard, the real-life daughter of director Ron Howard, is saddled with a dopey script by the old Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow that forces her to say idiotic things like “Dinosaurs are dying—and no one cares.”
The bad guys this time are called “raptor traffickers”. Their game plan is to sell the creatures to the highest bidders in a dinosaur auction, which leads up to a fashion runway of jaw-snapping horrors sold for millions to entrepreneurs throughout the globe who want to start their own Jurassic Parks.
“Get me 50 cc’s from my phlebotomy kit,” says BD Wong, also returning as Dr. Wu, the genetic engineer who plans to clone the creatures into a new era of endless sequels in every language. So much for the plot.
The G-rated romance is furnished by Claire (Howard) and her sexy colleague Owen (Pratt), who reunites with a beloved raptor he trained as a pet called Blue. Blue is the only cute dinosaur. The most dangerous creatures that ever roamed the earth are the “Indio Raptors”. Those fellows are something else. They can even climb ladders! In all honesty, it must be admitted that I saw this violent extravaganza in the dreaded IMAX with a rapt audience in a state of what I believe might best be described as stoned.
Cut from the same DNA as all of the previous Jurassics, this one has some tension, but never lives up to its potential. The minuscule narrative is the same, the characters repeat the same mistakes, and the two lovers escape the jaws of death again, paving the way for yet another installment. Kids might devour it with the insanely overpriced snacks at today’s multiplex concession stands, but for real suspense, grownups are advised to “move along, folks, nothing for you—see this summer’s best adventure epic, Adrift, instead.”
If you’re looking for a positive spin, the good news is that Jurassic World provides more jobs for puppeteers, technology experts and computer-graphics designers, but you know dinosaurs. They chomp and chew, devouring as many cast members as the traffic allows, but we’ve been there, done that. They’re exhausted, and so am I. It’s time to put them out of their misery and reward us all with a well-earned rest. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom? If only it were true.