It was 25 years ago that “Jurassic Park” was released in theaters. It captivated audiences and remains as one of the biggest movies ever. As such, sequels have followed. Unfortunately, most of them haven’t been great. The series petered out after “Jurassic Park 3” for more than a decade until “Jurassic World” re-invented it. But history is bound to repeat itself and the newest entry, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” has squandered the renewed interest to become the most bonkers sequel yet.
Things start out okay enough. There’s a volcano on Isla Nublar that is threatening to wipe out the remaining dinosaurs and the debate on whether to save them or let them go extinct again is a heated one. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is working to try to save the dinosaurs, and jumps at the chance to help a conservation foundation that wants to rescue as many as possible to release them onto a sanctuary island. In order to do so, she needs the help of Owen, the raptor whisper, (Chris Pratt) to help catch Blue, who is the last remaining raptor.
This first part on the island is actually pretty decent, as the humanitarian efforts race against the clock to get as many of the creatures off of the island. As the volcano starts to erupt and lava flows, there are some tense moments. It also offers a different dynamic from the other films. It’s not humans versus dinosaurs for once; it’s animals versus mother nature.
As they try to escape the island – twist! – they realize it wasn’t a rescue mission. Here’s where it gets bonkers: the mission was really an attempt to get dinosaurs to sell on the black market and help control a newly created dinosaur, which is touted as the ultimate weapon for whoever owns it. Yes, they are weaponizing the dinosaurs. Yes, we get a shady auction with people bidding on the dinosaurs. And yes, as you can guess dinosaurs get free and start causing terror inside a mansion. It’s dinosaurs gone wild – and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a giant, genetically modified dino chase a little girl down a hallway inside a mansion.
Colin Trevorrow (who directed “Jurassic World”) and Derek Connelly, who helped to co-write the previous film, handled scripting duties here. Michael Crichton would be rolling over in his grave if he knew about what they’ve done to his original idea here. The team has thrown out any attempt to ground the films in reality and just decided no idea was too outlandish.
Pratt and Howard must be given credit. The returning duo is more than game, with just the right amount of self-awareness to be in on the craziness around them. Even Jeff Goldblum, returning in a cameo, seems to know what he got himself into.
The first half of the film is actually pretty good, and the bonkers second half – which the above hasn’t even spoiled the half of – occasionally has its moments. “Fallen Kingdom” is the stereotypical definition of brain candy. If you go into the theater and are able to completely (and I mean completely) shut your brain off, there is fun to be had. It’s not a good movie, but it offers some over-the-top entertainment. Just remember to bring the popcorn to munch on!