Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom offers derivative dinosaur thrills
Damon Smith discovers whether dinosaurs will rule the Earth in the action-packed blockbuster sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
IF YOU follow the lead of Jurassic Park's hubristic scientists and splice the creative DNA of Steven Spielberg's 1993 behemoth with the rumbustious 2015 reboot Jurassic World, the resultant hybrid would roar, rampage and ultimately stumble like this muscular fifth instalment.
Directed at a gallop by Spanish filmmaker JA Bayona, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a slick yet soulless greatest hits of monster-munching mayhem, bolted together with overblown set pieces that hark back to earlier episodes.
A cute grandchild in peril, a T-Rex roaring triumphantly over its domain as composer John Williams's familiar theme swells, a reflection of "objects in the mirror are closer than they appear", Jeff Goldblum's chaos mathematician foreshadowing wanton bloodshed with sage words about evolutionary order.
"We altered the course of natural history. This is the correction", he growls at a Senate hearing to determine the fate of dinosaurs on Isla Nublar, which is about to be swamped by lava from a volcano, rendering the majestic beasts extinct – again.
Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly's script takes a velociraptor's claw to character development, meekly sketching a rogue's gallery of computer hackers, palaeobotanists and Machiavellian men in suits before the chomping of human flesh begins in earnest.
There are undeniable thrills and entrails spills, and Bayona choreographs the carnage with flashes of directorial brio, but the jump scares and blood-curdling screams are largely second-hand.
Mount Sibo, which towers over Isla Nublar, growls with molten fury and Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), former business associate of John Hammond, implores Jurassic World's manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to oversee a daring rescue mission.
She persuades old flame Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to return to paradise to transplant the stricken wildlife to a new home, aided by her Dinosaur Protection Group colleagues Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin (Justice Smith).
Gun-toting expedition facilitator Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine) chaperones Claire and Owen at the behest of Lockwood's right-hand man, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall).
However, there are dark forces working against the rescuers, including duplicitous Dr Henry Wu (BD Wong).
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom confidently accomplishes everything you'd expect from a rollicking romp in the series, and therein lies the problem.
We have been here before and Bayona's film seems content to rest on mouldering laurels and neatly tee up a sequel.
The script's sole moment of intrigue – a nightmarish yet obvious next step in science's abusive relationship with genetics – is casually tossed away as a plot twist in a chaotic final act.
A new dinosaur cross-breed – the voracious Indoraptor – fails to make an impact but does create one comic highlight with a character's wayward hair-piece.
"These creatures don't need our protection. They need our absence," sermonises Cromwell's ailing philanthropist.
The computer-generated critters certainly won't be absent from multiplexes for long with another film poised to sink its teeth into the 2021 summer blockbuster season.
Welcome to Jurassic World and bid farewell, for now at least, to originality.
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (12A, 128 mins) Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Thriller/Romance
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, James Cromwell, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Ted Levine, BD Wong, Jeff Goldblum
Director: JA Bayona