There is, of course, an acceptable level of dumbness for a movie about genetically engineered dinosaurs escaping an island. We want to see the dinosaurs stalk people around conference rooms and bellow, and maybe tear a scared accountant or lawyer limb from limb at some point. It’s more amusement park ride than movie, which is probably why I saw the original in the theater three times. (“That was great, I wanna go again!”)
Point is, we understand the format and we’re willing to accept a lot of narrative corner-cutting in the service of getting some smarmy functionary into a room with a T-Rex to have his face ripped off. For most of its running time, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom pushes right up against that limit, and it works, even when you sort of expect it not to. The entire plot, for instance, is that Isla Nublar, the island off the coast of Costa Rica now overrun by dinosaurs and the setting for 2015’s Jurassic World, is being threatened by a volcanic eruption. Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire now belongs to a group trying to get the government to evacuate the dinosaurs from said island.
Already, this is a lot to swallow. The killer dinosaurs that ate the tourists? They want to save them? Yes, that is correct. And Claire does her best to sell it. “Would you really want your children to grow up without dinosaurs?” she asks a congresswoman.
Didn’t… she grow up without dinosaurs? And even if this volcanic eruption were to wipe out all these de-extincted dinosaurs and make them extinct once again, couldn’t we just, you know, clone them back to life like we did the first time?
I understand that there sort needs to be an island and a way for the dinosaurs to go nuts again, but it’s not like we’re asking they change this entire movie around. It’d just be nice if we had one or two lines of dialogue to address these obvious logic problems. Fallen Kingdom (directed by A Monster Calls director JA Bayona and scripted by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow) doesn’t, and, at first at least, it knows we love dinosaurs juuuust enough to accept it. It seems like it won’t work, and then a dinosaur eats someone and all is right with the world again.
The government (wisely, probably) won’t listen to Claire and her pals about saving the dinosaurs, but rich guy Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) — an old partner of original Jurassic Park creator John Hammond, we learn in an expository speech so fast that I later had to look this up on a Wiki site — has agreed to finance an expedition to the volcano-threatened island to save the dinosaurs, and take them to a different island sanctuary, where he says they’ll be able to roam, free of human interference and tourists without eating lawyers, and become cage free, pasture-raised Whole Foods dinosaurs or whatever (unfortunately they are not non-GMO).
To achieve this, Claire naturally has to re-recruit raptor whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to capture his old pet, Blue, the semi-tame ‘raptor. They also bring along paleo-veterinarian Zia (Danielle Pineda) to treat the sick dinos and nerdy-nerd tech IT guy hacker Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) to tap on keyboards and shout things like “Okay, I’m in!” (Yes, the hacker guy actually shouts “I’m in!” in one scene).