Once the dust had settled after Jurassic Park 3, there was a rumour doing the rounds about a new instalment of the franchise that would feature combat-trained dinosaurs wielding machine guns. It never got off the ground, and instead we got the bland re-tread of Jurassic World, which added the tantalising idea of gene-spliced dinos but didn’t do much with it.
Here, then, we have a Jurassic World sequel which, to its credit, does take the series in a new direction. Eventually.
First though, we’re going back to the island! The widely-derided first trailer for the film copped flack for being, well, ludicrous, featuring a volcano everyone forgot to mention for twenty years, and the usual running-around-in-khakis action that’s been a staple of the series thus far. Director J.A. Bayona deserves credit for bringing a fresh energy to proceedings, but this first stretch of the film is basically business as usual.
There are some shenanigans afoot off-island that are far more interesting, and they provide the meat for the rest of the film. The story eventually morphs into a sort of haunted-house scenario that, to its credit, serves up a few surprises.
Bayona and his pre-vis team deliver some bold images along the way (the best one was in one of the trailers), and the chemistry between Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt is better this time. There’s a new franken-saur, the ‘Indo-raptor’ (downright Bugs Bunny-esque in its devilish antics), and a few of the other dinosaurs get a chance to shine (a headbutt-happy Pachycephalosaurus in particular).
But in the end, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom feels pretty familiar. One day maybe we’ll get something as outlandish as dinosaurs with guns, but for now the franchise is content to play it safe. The closing moments suggest a much more interesting 6th instalment. Let’s wait and see.