By Patrick Bracken
Citizen Chronicle Film Critic
Let’s get one thing straight right away: The Jurassic Park movies are dumb.
Audiences haven’t spent the past 25 years flocking to these films to see tightly constructed plots, richly drawn characters or snappy, thought-provoking dialogue. No, we want big, terrifying dinosaurs — the more teeth, the better — and we want them to chase children and to eat bad guys. On these limited terms Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom succeeds beautifully.
Set three years after the previous film, JW: FK starts with the revelation that Isla Nublar, home to the now-destroyed Jurassic World theme park, is about to be leveled by a never-before mentioned volcano erupting at its center. Billionaire Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) — a man so wealthy that he has a national history museum in his rec room and a mad-scientist laboratory in his basement — has a plan to remove the doomed dinosaurs from the island and place them in a safe, secure wildlife sanctuary. He enlists former Jurassic World manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to help him in this rescue.
There’s a catch, however. Lockwood’s not-at-all-evil assistant Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) explains that they are particularly interested in Blue, the trained and compliant velociraptor from the last movie. To find her, Claire will need to convince Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady to return with them.
Of course she does, and of course they are double-crossed, which leads to a breathtaking escape from an island that is exploding all around them. Dodging fireballs, falling rocks and stampeding dinosaurs, director J.A. Bayona throws the cast into what may be the most exciting sequence in the entire franchise. He deftly caps it all off with a heartbreaking image that injects some genuine emotion into the movie.
From there things get sillier, if no less exciting. Curiously, most of the rest of the action takes place on a much smaller scale. Everyone finds themselves back at Lockwood’s mansion where Mills’ evil plan is revealed. It involves murder, profiteering, and a brand new super dinosaur that (surprise!) escapes and rampages through the building. Oh, and there’s also an adorable little girl (charmingly played by Isabella Sermon) with a ridiculous back story that has no bearing on the plot in any way. Maybe they’re setting up for the sequel.
Speaking of the sequel, Jeff Goldblum returns in this one for no reason other than to look good in a suit and pontificate about moral dilemmas.
If you would like to see a monster movie with a tightly constructed plot, richly drawn characters and snappy, thought-provoking dialogue, I highly recommend Bayona’s previous film A Monster Calls. If you’re just looking for a fun time at the movies, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom should do the trick.