Mother Nature might have caused dinosaurs to go extinct, but millions of years later, the Jurassic Park franchise has a much stronger force keeping it alive — the Hollywood box office.
Indeed, the series continues to roar along despite the fact that its latest installment, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, is a product conceived more by financial than creative motives.
While lacking the prehistoric wonder and sense of discovery of Steven Spielberg’s original film 25 years ago, this uninspired sequel extensively rehashes what’s come before and teases what’s ahead without providing much incentive to invest in what’s currently on the screen.
The story returns us to the fictional Isla Nublar, off the Costa Rican coast, where an active volcano threatens to wipe out the remaining dinosaurs who destroyed the theme park in the prior film. An aging billionaire (James Cromwell) who once partnered on the original park’s creation wants to save them.
So he summons former park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) to his mansion. She, in turn, tracks down her ex-flame, animal expert Owen (Chris Pratt), and other requisite experts.
As they debate the merits of the idea, the old man’s sneering caretaker (Rafe Spall) has other plans. He wants to sell hunting rights to the creatures — on the mainland — to the highest bidder, without regard to potential consequences.
Fallen Kingdom is driven by contrivances from the get-go, and relies on a continuous lack of common sense from characters who are supposed to be scientists and intellectuals. It offers only a half-hearted examination of the now-familiar convergence between genetic ethics, species conservation, and corporate greed.
Meanwhile, director J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) manages to generate moderate thrills from the slick action sequences, even if they’re from the same playbook — humans hiding in a corner as a growling, carnivorous dino flashes its massive teeth in search of a snack. Cue the obligatory chase.
Such spectacle is emphasized over narrative substance in the screenplay by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, the latter of who directed Jurassic World and apparently will assume those duties again for the next film. Their script makes little effort to develop characters, human or otherwise.
Of course, there’s a transparently disingenuous ploy to tease the next installment. The underlying message: Wait a few years, pay more money, buy some merchandise, and you’ll get to see what really happens. We promise this time!