There is good news for all of you who were annoyed by Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) running around in Jurassic World wearing stiletto heels. For Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, she has upgraded to a pair of very stylish yet practical combat boots. Unfortunately, Howard's footwear is about the only thing that has been upgraded for this so-so sequel.
Set a few years after the events of the first film, the plot of Fallen Kingdom centres on an attempt to rescue the dinosaurs from Isla Nublar when the islands dormant volcano starts errupting. The mission is backed by ailing billionaire Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who many years before had worked with Jurassic Park founder John Hammond. The plan is to rescue a number of the dinos and house them on an island sanctuary, safely hidden away from meddling humans. Claire is brought on board thanks to her work with a dino rights group and she also ropes in former flame and velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to head back to Isla Nublar on a rescue mission. But the motives of Lockwood's slimy assistant Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) are more ulteriror than altruistic, and it's not long before things go pear shaped.
As with the two sequels to the original Jurassic Park, Fallen Kingdom is flawed but somewhat entertaining in parts. The technology that brings the dinosaurs to life has, of course, moved on quite a bit since the original film came along in 1993, so the CGI is pretty much flawless. The film is at its best when it's on Isla Nublar, with volcanic destruction raining down upon humans and dinosaurs alike. It's a little more pedestrian when events move back to the mainland, with the odd setpiece adding some much-needed frisson to proceedings.
While the action setpieces are all well done and thrilling to watch, Fallen Kingdom is a film of missed opportunities - which, when you consider that director Juan Antonio Bayona is the man behind The Orphanage and A Monster Calls, is a bit of a disappointment. There are some interesting plot threads that simply go nowhere (a cloned human being, for a start) and scenes that could really go somewhere interesting but merely peter out. It's a film that seems to want to say some big things about man meddling with things he couldn't (Ian Malcolm's warning that the dinosaurs should be wiped out goes unheeded) and the danger of mass weaponisation ... but again, it doesn't quite go there.
The returning cast are all fine, although the relationship between Howard and Pratt lacks the chemistry of the first film. Fan favourite Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm in what amounts to little more than a glorified cameo, but it's great to see him anyway. Villains Rafe Spall, Toby Jones and Ted Levine all enjoy chomping on the scenery - and, of course, thos overgrlown lizards get to chomp on a few humans too.
While it's far from being a total disappointment, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is not nearly as good as it could, or should have been. It's probably 15-20 too long, for a start, and there are a few scenes that will be far too scary for younger children. Still, for all its flaws, there's plenty here for ardent dinosaur fans to get their teeth into.