Fans of the Jurassic Park/World franchise can often be heard saying that they go to these movies for the unique, quirky characters, most notably Ian Malcolm played by Jeff Goldblum. Yes, everyone wants to gawk at giant prehistoric creatures, but the first time we saw a dinosaur in the 1993 original, the sheer awe and wonder we felt were due, in part, to the awe we saw on the faces of the characters on screen, because we connected with them. A film like 2015’s Jurassic World, however, doesn’t make over 1.5 billion dollars with just fan support, and it’s reasonable to believe that a large part of the audiences impressed by it were there primarily to see dinosaurs chasing and eating people, when not fighting each other.
In that sense, it’s lucky that I’m not a fan of the franchise, because it means all I was looking for heading into this was a mindlessly entertaining time, and was thus not too disappointed. The story concerns Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s attempts to save dinosaurs from extinction when the volcano on Isla Nublar erupts. This leaves room for some fascinating ethical dilemmas concerning whether it is our moral responsibility to save them, considering the fact that we are the ones who brought them back in the first place, potentially disrupting the ecosystem. Also, they’re kinda deadly. And it’s not that the screenwriters here don’t see that, this quandary is addressed, it’s just that they’re clearly far more interested in spending time on people hiding or running away from dinosaurs than in exploring this question.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Given the quality of writing we see for the rest of the movie, perhaps we should be glad they did not apply that level of *nuance* and *depth* to an issue as sensitive as animal rights. The plot unfolds with no regard for character development or even logic. Luckily, director J. A. Bayona seems to understand that, and instead of trying to make the action sequences look believable, puts all his effort into making them big and enjoyable. And for the most part, he does a good job with that. As much as I may mock “people running/hiding from dinosaurs”, those really were the some of the scenes I enjoyed the most, second only to dinosaurs battling other dinosaurs.
So no, this isn’t the perfect sequel for loyal fans who want more fun, endearing characters to adventure with. People here exist only as dino-fodder. This is also, unsurprisingly, not a film for sci-fi enthusiasts hoping for something beyond lip-service for thought-provoking questions related to genetics. And even among action movie fans, this is only a movie for those willing to suspend the hell out of their disbelief. I would like to say that at least that last class of moviegoer has my enthusiastic recommendation, but even there I must be half-hearted, since there are stretches near the middle of the film concerning cartoonish villains and their greedy schemes that will bore just about anyone.
All this is not to say that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a bad movie, it just means that I don’t think it’s a good movie either. This is the kind of meh that some will despise, but others justifiably crave as the kind of escapism movies are so good at. Because sometimes, real life finds a way to drive us away.