[Note: This review contains potential spoilers.]
Inconsequential, toothless, and unwilling to drift from the series’ safe space, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn’t even satisfy the lowest of expectations. It’s a frustrating slog that plays like a two-hour teaser for the movie we really want to see.
This time around, a volcano is on the verge of wiping out the park and the rest of Isla Nublar along with it, including its dinosaur population. Park manager-turned-dino rights activist Claire Danning (Bryce Dallas Howard) and raptor-whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) are recruited by Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) — the former partner of original dino-cloner James Hammond — to assist with evacuating as many of the beasts as possible.
Naturally, there are nefarious plans lurking under the surface of the enterprise which, when revealed, land with a thud. The final act comes down to an auction collapsing into low-stakes chaos on a palatial Northern California estate. Seriously.
Blowing up the island that formed the nucleus of four movies should have given director J.A. Bayona and screenwriters Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly the momentum to take the series into a new, exciting, and uncharted narrative direction; instead, Fallen Kingdom is brought down by a boatload of missed opportunities and an unshakable desire to play it safe. The big bad — a genetically engineered super-raptor — proves to be disposable and forgettable. Pratt and Howard’s characters are brought in to rescue the trained raptor Blue, a plot point with no pay-off. What should be a major, game-changing twist involving Lockwood’s granddaughter goes largely unexplored. Anyone hoping to see dinosaurs run amok in the world will apparently have to wait for one more movie.
The best indictment of the movie’s lazy writing comes from Jeff Goldblum’s cameo appearance, a reprise of his role of Ian Malcolm, when he asks “How many times must the same mistake be made?”.
At least five, apparently.