A. Verdict: It's a rental (SPICE Level: MEDIUM)
B. Good Enough for Repeat Viewing?: Only after the home video release
C. Details, Please:
Let's start by remembering why we still love the Jurassic Park franchise. This one moment will always be a part of our collective soul.
Spielberg's direction and John Williams's music always make a triumphant combination.
Even though 2015's Jurassic World lacked the depth of what made the first film in the franchise a timeless classic, it was arguably the best sequel up to that point. Seeing impressively rendered dinosaurs run wild in an operational theme park more than justified a trip to your local movie theater. On top of that, the chemistry between rising star Chris Pratt and high-heel wearing sprinter Bryce Dallas Howard guaranteed an entertaining ride.
Sadly, this sequel fails to measure up to the fun of the previous movie. On the bright side, the story manages to set up a very compelling premise for the next sequel to exploit. Pratt and Howard elevate the material. The initial act of the tale has some exceptional visuals when Isla Nublar's dinosaur population has to be rescued from an extinction-level volcanic eruption. Pratt's relationship with his former pet raptor, Blue, emotionally anchors the chaos on display. The 2nd act considerably slows down the action and the film suffers heavily for it. Most of the blame goes to Rafe Spall's Eli Mills. He is among the most cartoonish and cringeworthy one-note corporate villains that has ever been put out in Hollywood history. Anytime that he took up screentime was just an exhausting experience to watch. What made it even worse was that he was seemingly trying to do his best Will Arnett impersonation. We all know that there can only be one Will Arnett.
Ted Levine (AKA Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs) is also a joke as an aging mercenary who only cares about his bonus. The movie also tries hard to make us care about the fate of Justice Smith's IT Guy, Franklin Webb but that quickly proves to be a lost cause as well. Toby Jones (Arnim Zola in the first 2 Captain America movies) is also forgettable as an amoral auctioneer. The only new entrants to the franchise who are tolerable are Daniella Pineda's sassy Dr. Zia Rodriquez (a self-proclaimed dinosaur veternarian who has never treated any dinosaurs but we can look past that) and Isabella Sermon's mysteriously charming little girl Maisie Lockwood. Long-respected thespian James Cromwell is a total waste as Sir Benjamin Lockwood, Maisie's grandfather and a wealthy benefactor with a connection to the creation of the original park. Of course, Jeff Goldblum's legacy character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, automatically steals every scene that he is in. Unfortunately, we don't get enough Goldblum in this. That being said, is it even theoretically possible for humanity to get enough Goldblum?
My biggest criticism is that this feels like a direct-to-video sequel. Most of the movie takes place in one boring location. A smaller-scale sequel in a blockbuster franchise is not necessarily a bad idea but the story would have to be that much better in order to compensate (classic successful example would be Empire Strikes Back). Unfortunately, that basic requirement is not met either. Spanish director J.A. Bayona does the best that he can with the script that he is given and he does nail the subtle horror moments that are dispersed throughout the messy narrative. Michael Giacchino is one of the industry's best working composers today but his contribution here is very generic and a poor reflection of his talents (for a much stronger example of his musical capabilities, go see Incredibles 2 ASAP). In the end, I still found the movie entertaining and enjoyable. I am looking very forward to Jurassic World 3 and you might understand why after watching this.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.