At one point in the third act of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Chris Pratt’s intrepid raptor wrangler heroically smoulders: “I say we shut this whole thing down.” And there, succinctly put, is advice worth heeding. Indeed, 25 years since John Hammond first played God on Isla Nublar comes this follow-up to 2015’s underwhelming soft reboot, and results show that the worn-out concept desperately needs to become extinct.
This new chapter sees a wealthy industrialist and his executive (James Cromwell and Rafe Spall) coax the heroes of the previous film (Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) to return to Isla Nublar on a rescue mission, as an active volcano threatens the last remaining dinosaurs. Shockingly, shady deals and underhand scheming are afoot and the real reasons behind the operation soon surface: Spall’s character and a gurning auctioneer (Toby Jones) want to sell the dinosaurs to the highest bidders during an evening set in a Bond lair underneath an opulent mansion. What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, as it turns out, and even if expectations weren’t high for this fifth instalment, I clung on to a modicum of hope considering J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls) was in the director’s chair and could bring his gothic sensibilities and a few decent scares to the show. It starts off promisingly enough, with a terrific pre-title sequence that promises much, in which we revisit the previous instalment’s submerged park. Sadly, it quickly becomes apparent that Bayona is hampered with pesky MPAA restrictions, meaning the sanitised violence and the suspense is more yawn-inducing than edge-of-your-seat exciting. He’s also been lumped with Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly’s risible script, which not only sticks to the tried and tested (read: nose-bleedingly predictable) formula, but clearly flaunts to what extent the writers have contented themselves to retcon a weak narrative around money shots of dinosaurs roaring in lushly-crafted set pieces. Worse, though, is that they’ve made the story so by-the-book that proceedings will start chipping away at your willing suspension of disbelief, leading you to zone-in on minor details you really shouldn’t be focusing on in a popcorn flick. The most egregious and laughable are how the scriptwriters think lava works and how a newly spliced beastie called Indoraptor suddenly develops an inexplicable and dogged grudge against a precocious child (newcomer Isabella Sermon). This segment reminded me of Jaws: The Revenge, in which the great white anthropomorphically packs his bags to follow Ellen Brody’s family from Amity Island to the Bahamas in order to exact his sentient revenge for her husband’s past crimes. And when the level of logic plummets to the same depths as one of the worst sequels ever made, it is indeed time to shut the whole thing down and stop flogging a dead dino.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom | Directed by J.A. Bayona (US, 2018), with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones. Starts June 7.
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