Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a museum tour of past thrills, scary as a bucket of chicken

By Liam Lacey

Rating: C

“Nasty woman!” growls a grizzled mercenary soldier (Ted Levine) to a young Asian-American veterinarian in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

The solder who utters the Trumpian insult is busy transporting eleven species of dinosaurs from their volcano-endangered park off the Costa Rica coast to safety in a private reserve in Northern California. He’s one of the bad guys, determined to Make America Jurassic Again by “weaponizing” dinosaurs. Unfortunately, perhaps, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is not a comment on the Trump presidency, beyond the themes of invasion, collusion with foreign villains, reptilian brain responses and child snatching.

The fifth film in the franchise, and second in the trilogy rebooted in 2015, is another immersive museum tour of Jurassic movies past. Here’s yet another incident-packed, steroid-pumped, dumb airport novel of a movie, with a few flourishes of Spielberg-inspired titanic imagery (though the director is J.A. Bayona) and a wall-to-wall John Williams-like orchestral score (by Michael Giacchino), with scenes that echo from the previous Jurassic Park movies.

 Chris Pratt convinces a pal to move someplace less volcanic in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdon

Chris Pratt convinces a pal to move someplace less volcanic in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdon

The good guys include leftovers from the last movie, idealistic dinosaur rights advocate Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and smart-alecky scientist-wrangler, Owen (Chris Pratt) along with some fresh blood — scrappy veterinarian Zia (Daniella Pineda) and nerdy tech guy, Franklin (Justice Smith). They’re attempting to rescue the dinosaurs (especially the semi-adorable last velociraptor, Blue) from the dinosaur park, before it’s destroyed by a volcano.

The really bad guys, for whom the soldier works, pretend to help them transport the beasts to a sanctuary in Northern California. In reality, they are greedy environment-exploiting, arms-dealing meanies. We see their raw Ids in reptilian form, as they conspire to “weaponize” the dinosaurs and auction them off to the highest bidders with foreign accents.

Weaponize dinosaurs? In a demo before an auction crowd, we see how a genetically modified raptor has its hunt-and-kill switch triggered by a pink laser pointer, as it roars and jumps like a big angry kitten. Not exactly fail-safe, but as the auctioneer (Toby Jones) says, hey, it’s just a prototype.

In the movie’s central sequence, dinosaurs are let loose in a billionaire’s massive mansion, where all the arms dealers have converged. Those magical CGI dinosaurs, first unveiled in 1993’s Jurassic Park, have lost their aura of wonder:  They’re vermin now. While the idea of playing hide-and-seek with dinosaurs sounds exciting, the house is so unfathomably massive, the creatures might as well be running around a series of adjoining warehouses.

There are humans who live in the mansion there as well, including a noble dying grandfather, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) who helped develop the original Jurassic Park and is one of those benevolent billionaires we hear too little about these days. 

There’s also his doting adolescent granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon) and her wry governess, Iris (Geraldine Chaplin, who almost saves the movie).  And Lockwood’s assistant -  played by Rafe Spall with a suspicious sugary voice, glasses and stubble - who wants to take the family business in a whole new direction.

Lest you think none of this chasing and devouring is as meaningful as a Pac-Man game, the movie is bookended by scenes of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Malcolm talking to a congressional committee about mankind’s technological hubris and the folly of dinosaur cloning. (Maybe even dinosaur movie cloning?). 

Such speeches are the broccoli beside the greasy food, the price you pay for the pleasure of seeing another arrogant s.o.b. cleaved at the waist in one big chomp. Honestly, at this point even the thrill kills have lost their shiver, objectively less of a threat than a bucket of fried chicken parts.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Directed by J.A. Bayona. Written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly. Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Isabella Serman, Rafe Spall, Daniella Pineda, Geraldine Chaplin and Justice Smith. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom can be seen at the Silvercity Yonge-Eglinton, Cineplex Dundas Square, Silvercity Yorkdale and Scotiabank Theatres.