Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is completely ridiculous, but it is a perfectly serviceable popcorn flick. It's a much better movie than 2015's clunky Jurassic World, to which this is a direct sequel. In fact, this is the first Jurassic movie I have actually liked since Steven Spielberg's 1993 original Jurassic Park.
The plot here is a little more involving than usual. It starts off with a rescue mission to save as many of the genetically engineered dinosaurs as possible before the island they inhabit is destroyed by a volcano. Elderly billionaire Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) enlists the former operations manager of the now-defunct dinosaur park, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). It is Claire who, in turn, convinces Raptor whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to be a part of the mission, so he can rescue Blue, a super-smart Raptor who he raised from birth. This hair-raising rescue is only the first half of the film. We find out that Lockwood's assistant, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), is part of a nefarious scheme involving the saved dinosaurs.
Fallen Kingdom is directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible, A Monster Calls), and he handles action scenes with ease. There's an exciting underwater escape, as well as a tense scene where Owen and Claire have to get up close and extract blood from a tranquilized T-Rex. Bayona also has a knack for infusing his films with moments of deep emotions. Giving this monster movie some heart really makes you care about what is happening on screen, and the heart of Fallen Kingdom is Lockwood's scrappy granddaughter, Maisie, terrifically played by newcomer Isabella Sermon.
Aside from a pointless cameo appearance by Jeff Goldblum as his Ian Malcolm character, which bookends the film, and certain characters that simply disappear, the screenplay here is pretty cohesive. In just about every way, Fallen Kingdom is better than Colin Trevorrow's previous Jurassic World. For instance, this time around, Claire and Owen are actually likable, and the two actors who play them actually have good chemistry together. The action here is creative, like having dinosaurs roaming around a huge mansion in the finale, which is a bit reminiscent of the ending of the Ray Harryhausen effects-extravaganza The Valley of Gwangi (1969), where the title creature, an Allosaurus, is trapped in a cathedral. And this time, thankfully, there is no pretty British assistant whose death is so painfully protracted and undeserving that it completely takes you out of the picture. No. But lots of rich bad guys who deserve it get joyfully eaten in the big climax of Fallen Kingdom.