One of my favorite reviewers on YouTube has a film rating called “A good time if you’re drunk.” Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fits nicely into such a category. The proposed rules: every time you predict a plot point, take a shot. You will have a grand time. The only problem is that you could have done all of that at home without wasting your time or money on Indiana Groans and the temple of Dumb.
The basic premise of the movie is this: Isla Nublar, where all the dinosaurs have been kept until this point, is about to be destroyed by an active volcano. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), magically transforming from a profit-seeking number cruncher into a dinosaur rights activist, enlists the smarmy Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to help her rescue the dinosaurs from the volatile island. Shenanigans ensue, and the first half of the movie features all the running-away-from-dinosaurs you could ask for. It is not exactly inspiring. It is far from clever, but at least competent.
Then in the second half the movie ditches all pretenses to competence, takes a left turn at stupid, and goes downhill from there. A magical dumb waiter of plot convenience makes the first of its exhaustingly frequent appearances, various agendas become ludicrously apparent, 20-ton predators are as silent as cats, and plot threads begin teasing a sequel one is not terribly interested in. When some of your main characters disappear for an hour and you don’t even notice until they return, it does not bode well for your movie.
Granted, this can be quite an enjoyable movie, in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. But the missteps are far too many to overlook. Scenes meant to be scary are funny; scenes meant to be poignant are idiotic; scenes meant to be emotional are annoying. There are a handful of tantalizing moments, placing characters in ethical quandaries with difficult decisions, but even those moments are trodden down under the wheels of the teetering mass of stupidity and plot convenience. When the climax of your movie involves dooming the entire human race to make a point about animal rights, and the viewer has been waiting for the end for about 45 minutes, it is hardly a fulfilling conclusion. Every movie will likely have an agenda of some sort, but is it too much to ask for it to at least be creative?
But at least the discerning ninja T-Rexes only eat bad guys.