Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review – dino-flaws galore in series headed for extinction
JA Bayona’s adventure boasts some passable set pieces, but the plot is contrived, the characters fatigued, the cliches abundant – and the beasties t-rexecrable
But we do get the dinos in cages, fed with goats, dinos having to be wrangled in the driving rain, great white hunters with guns, yikes-it’s-behind-you comeuppances for the corporate bad guys and dusty old electrical circuit boxes that have to be fixed by torchlight.
Basically this new film has to sidestep the eternal question of dinosaurs being penned up in an amusement park and then things going horribly wrong – over and over, film after film. Now the situation depends on uncomfortably reversing the question of jeopardy. Previously the humans were in danger from the dinosaurs. Now it’s the other way round.
After running wild on their island, the dinosaurs have been left alone, but now an erupting volcano threatens to wipe them out altogether and soft-hearted pro-dinosaur ecologists campaign for these animals to be saved. Specifically, the ageing Sir Benjamin Lockwood, former business partner of the park’s founder Hammond (once played of course by Richard Attenborough) is now planning to exfiltrate the dinosaurs and keep them in a new Shangri-La island where the tourists won’t bother them. The old boy is played by James Cromwell, much as he played Prince Philip in The Queen and his gigantic mansion looks like a scary-movie Balmoral.
‘Glassy eyed’ … Bryce Dallas Howard is back
To facilitate all this, Sir Benjamin has hired a smoothie CEO, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) – and it is Mills’s job to get the old gang together. This means rounding up Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard – in which role she is starting to look a little glassy-eyed – and the Indiana-Jones-y dino handler himself, Owen Grady, played with beefy self-deprecation by Chris Pratt. It’s a game enough performance but without the zing of his Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy. Also, Sir Benjamin’s smart, lonely granddaughter is to be important; this is Maisie, well played by newcomer Isabella Sermon.
Owen and Claire had supposedly broken up but now they have to meet-cute all over again and all the excitement rekindles the old romance, although there doesn’t seem to be much chemistry between them here. They daringly make their way out there with Sir Benjamin’s crew to rescue the dinosaurs, only to discover that they, and the Jurassic beasts they have come to respect, are just pawns in a nasty scheme cooked up by the money-grubbing suits.
There are some reasonably entertaining scenes and set pieces, but the whole concept feels tired and contrived, and crucially the dinosaurs themselves are starting to look samey, without inspiring much of the awe or terror they used to. It could be that a meteor of tedium is heading towards these CGI creatures, despatching them to extinction.