As the owner of my own tiny dinosaur (I own a little blue parrot, or rather, she owns me), I was ready to see the new “Jurassic World” installment, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” The result was what we expect of summer blockbuster fare: fun and forgettable.
In this sequel, Claire (Bryce Howard), a former manager of the now abandoned Jurassic Park, has started an activist group with the intention of saving the park’s dinosaurs. The animals now face imminent extinction due to an impending volcanic eruption. When Jeff Goldblum’s character convinces the United States Congress not to interfere, an eccentric old millionaire named Lockwood decides to intervene and help the dinosaurs escape to a safe haven. Lockwood’s young assistant and estate manager, Mills, asks Claire to find Owen (Chris Pratt), the velociraptor trainer, and enlist his help in finding and capturing the last raptor in the park.
While I have watched the original “Jurassic Park” and the first reboot, “Jurassic World,” I have not watched the other installments of the franchise and therefore assumed that I must have been missing a lot of backstory. This is because Lockwood was supposedly Hammond’s (the original founder of Jurassic Park) business partner, who later had a falling out with him over some of the ethical implications of cloning. Lockwood also had a daughter who died in a car crash, and his granddaughter Masie is an important character in “Fallen Kingdom.” However, I wasn’t missing anything - Lockwood and Masie were completely new characters, and in retrospect, this feels contrived. The other two new characters, a “paleo veterinarian” (wouldn’t it be dinosaur veterinarian? Paleontologists study fossils, not living dinosaurs) and a generic computer hacker don’t add much to the story either, and the comic relief they were intended to add felt a little flat.
While I’m glad Claire has swapped her stilettos for more practical shoes (she somehow managed to do marathons in them in the first reboot), “Fallen Kingdom” still has an incredible number of plot holes and inaccuracies that will drive paleontologists and animal enthusiasts mad. As an animal trainer myself, I know that training an animal does not involve clicking your clicker at it repeatedly until it does what you want. Why did the philanthropist wait three years to ferry out the dinosaurs instead of taking them out the literal day the volcano erupted? How has the paleo veterinarian never seen a dinosaur and still managed to qualify as a vet? If you can get past the plot holes, however, and aren’t a paleontologist or parrot fanatic, the film does provide exactly what we expected of it: lots of dinosaurs eating screaming people and chasing them around the screen.
While many of the tropes from previous films are repeated - hackers rebooting systems, people being saved from big dinosaurs by even bigger dinosaurs that eat them - isn’t that what sequels do? Nobody was expecting anything new or profound from this film. While it glosses briefly over the more philosophical questions cloning dinosaurs produces, it doesn’t break much new ground. The ethical conundrums (Should we bring back what has passed? Are dinosaurs exploitable for warfare or profit? Is cloning a human wrong?) have always been there for us to ponder on our own time if we wish, and there’s not much more to add.
“Fallen Kingdom” is great summer entertainment for the family, once the kids are old enough not to take dinosaurs eating people seriously.