Just as the geneticists at Isla Nubar keep stitching their creations together to make bigger and (supposedly) better dinosaurs, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom can’t help but feel like a greatest hits compilation. Michael Giacchino dutifully breaks out the John Williams score at the appropriate moments. Jeff Goldblum returns to half-heartedly mumble into a microphone. There are enough instances of deus Rex machina to make a reasonably enjoyable drinking game.
And yet, Fallen Kingdom is an entertaining ride, mostly because director J.A. Bayona knows exactly how seriously not to take it. There’s no deep philosophising about legacy in the vein of the new Star Wars trilogy – just a fun B-movie premise, decently executed.
The first act feels undeniably perfunctory, with a twist that would have been obvious even if the trailers hadn’t ruined it, but the sequence of dinosaurs running from an erupting volcano is pleasingly Harryhausen-esque. Things get more interesting in the third act, which turns into a genuinely scary extended game of cat and mouse. Cinematographer Óscar Faura elevates the material further with elegant long takes, inventive camera angles and arresting imagery.
Sadly, the non-dinosaurs in the cast remain a mixed bag. Bryce Dallas Howard gets a more sensible pair of shoes and not much to do in them, and her will-they-won’t-they chemistry with Chris Pratt’s raptor wrangler gets old fast. Still, Pratt does an admirable job selling the bond he’s forged with his dinosaurs, and it must be said that newcomer Isabella Sermon is far less annoying than the two little shits from the last movie.
The closing moments of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom make it perfectly clear that this franchise intends to stick around for as long as it can. Still, one wonders how long it’ll be before the series finally goes extinct.
CAST: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Jeff Goldblum, Ted Levine
DIRECTOR: J.A. Bayona
WRITERS: Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Michael Crichton (based on characters created by)
SYNOPSIS: When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.