Of all the notes I took during my screening of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, one of the only legible comments reads as follows:
OMG Jurassic World 2 is just dinos LOL
… Which tells you just about all you need to know.
But, fine, I’ll say more: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom feels like a feature-length adaptation of the notes from the story brainstorm meeting.
There’s a ridiculous amount of stuff going on here, most of it deeply silly: a dinosaur stampede during an “extinction-level” volcano eruption; a black-market auction attended solely by mustache-twirling villains; an interspecies dinosaur blood transfusion; and Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm gravely intoning the line, “Welcome to Jurassic World.”
Moment-to-moment, Jurassic World can be pleasantly odd. Chris Pratt gets to show off his physical comedy chops all too briefly, in a scene that seems inspired by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Wolf of Wall Street crawl. And whatever else you think of the much-ballyhooed Indoraptor, there’s no denying she’s got a flair for drama. I swear she winked in one of her scenes.
Not everything fits (there’s an unearned “nasty woman” reference jammed in there), and the logic undergirding this entire story crumbles faster than a lamb in the jaws of a T-Rex if you consider it for more than two seconds.
Then a Baryonyx or a gyroscope will come tumbling along to remind us why we’re here.
And the characters do try, on occasion – the actors stop and wrinkle their faces to indicate they’re thinking very hard about the scientific and ethical ramifications of all this activity.
Then a Baryonyx or a gyroscope will come tumbling along to remind them that that’s not why any of us are here.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is determined to deliver on spectacle, and it does, in that cacophonous more-is-more way of the Transformers and Pacific Rim movies. There are some creepier, more elegant thrills to be found, too, particularly in the second half when the film moves to a dark gothic mansion.
The stuff that doesn’t really gel in Fallen Kingdom is the same stuff that didn’t really gel in Jurassic World. This series continues to insist that Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) would make a really cute couple, to its own detriment, and keeps harping on the same vague themes about parenthood, to no obvious end.
In most other aspects, though, it’s a clear improvement on its predecessor. The meanness has been dialed down several notches – there’s no assistant getting toyed with by a pterodactyl this time – and the special effects look many orders of magnitude better. If you thought Owen’s raptor BFF Blue was a beauty last time, wait ’til you see her adorable scene-stealing in this one.
Mind you, all of this is just the stuff I can tell you. Fallen Kingdom saves its very silliest twists for the second half, and peaks with a development that opens the door to even more nonsense in the inevitable sequel.
Will it be any good? I couldn’t tell you. But after all of this, I can’t tell you if Fallen Kingdomwas any good, either. I just know that it throws everything at the wall, and that it’s a blessing more of it sticks than doesn’t.