Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom yet again proves it's time to let this franchise go extinct

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

When Jurassic Park was released in 1993, it quickly became regarded as one of the finest blockbuster films ever made. The film confidently earned that praise with a dazzling array of groundbreaking effects (many of them practical), a legendary cast, a now classic score from John Williams, and some of the finest directing work of Steven Spielberg's career. While the following two films failed to live up to the near-perfect thrills of the original, they still provided the sort of pulpy fun and relatively smart social commentary that has come to define the Jurassic franchise. The series really jumped the shark, however, with 2015's Jurassic World, which doubled down on all the stupider parts of the franchise and sent a wooden Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) tumbling through a two-hour tour of uninspired set pieces. Gone was the smartly crafted fun, humor, and scares of the previous films. In was Bryce Dallas Howard (Black Mirror) running in slow-motion, high-heels loudly echoing through the theater, from a poorly rendered CGI T-rex (this scene is still shockingly terrible). 

But alas, Jurassic World rode on the coattails of marketing hype and Pratt's chiseled jawline to become the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time. So here we are again with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a prettier but somehow even dumber sequel that not only fails to learn from the mistakes of its predecessor but makes them seem passable in comparison. 

You'll find yourself questioning your life choices when you realize Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, the screenwriters of both World and this entry into the franchise, were thrown millions of dollars to come up with this asinine plot. The Jurassic island and its dino inhabitants are facing doom when its central volcano is set to erupt (of all the scientists involved in these parks, they never had a geologist?), prompting a rescue operation spearheaded by Pratt and Howard's World characters Owen and Claire. But surprise surprise, the man funding the operation (Rafe Spall, The Ritual) doesn't actually want to save them, instead opting for selling off the creatures to fund the creation of a trainable predator he calls the Indoraptor (it sounds even worse out loud!).

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

The film seems to at least right the course of the franchise in the fun department for the first third of the film, which unfortunately has already been spoiled by the endless slew of marketing released to promote it. But still, it feels good and right to sit in a theater and watch Pratt actually employ his comedic chops as he and his dino-loving pals run along aside these marvelous creatures from the terror of an exploding island. Director J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) certainly has a lot of visual fun with these sequences, and for a fleeting moment you might think some life has been injected back into this increasingly pointless series.

However, that's all over pretty quickly, and we move onto the rest of the film, which frankly plays like a plea to let this franchise finally die out. The film slows down rapidly from an adventure film into a sort of weirdly not scary haunted house film layered with bad subplot upon bad subplot. While Bayona is an admirable director with a lot more visual flair than Trevorrow, he can't save Trevorrow and Connolly's mind-numbing script, which is so desperate to keep asses in seats that it employs every bad sci-fi trope imaginable and panders to audiences of all kinds with bad Hillary Clinton jokes. One can feel their eyes start to glaze over as Trevorrow quickly reverts Pratt's character back to his original, personality of petrified wood state and has his character face the ethical quandary of human cloning (not kidding). Not to mention that all of this is boring and predictable, which is just about the worst sin a Jurassic film can commit. 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom tries, and maybe it should get some brownie points for that. It's a marked improvement in some areas, with a stronger visual personality and better attempts at making its characters believable. But at the end of the day, this is another unforgivably charmless, dumb, and pointless entry in a franchise that never needed saving. Perhaps it would be best, as Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Ian Malcom briefly posits in an over-marketed cameo, to let nature push these dinos out of existence. 

C-

Ryan Ninesling