"Change is like death," says a character in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. "You don't know what it looks like until you're standing at the gates." Leaving aside the question of whether that's accurate, let it be noted that these Jurassic movies resist both death and change: We know pretty much exactly what they'll look like. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (A Monster Calls, The Orphanage), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom understandably doesn't upset the formula. It isn't quite so awful as its previous iteration, and there are even a couple of imaginatively staged set pieces this time around. The picture kicks off with the best of them, a storm-drenched nighttime multi-dinosaur attack on a salvage crew amid the ruins of the previous films' theme park island, lit with flashes of lightning and flickering spotlights.
After that, Fallen Kingdom sticks to the rough outline of the earlier movies, right down to the obligatory scene of someone marveling at the sight of real-life dinosaurs for the first time. The world is in the midst of a raging debate over whether to keep the dinosaurs now running free on Isla Nublar alive; the volcano there has become active, and is about to consume the cloned beasts. The earlier film's heroine Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has since become a dinosaur rights activist, who enlists the aid of dinosaur trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). The calamities come with accelerating speed, and everything happens so quickly that you don't even have time to wonder if you're having fun or not. That misses the point entirely: We go to Jurassic Park movies for intricate, imaginative set pieces, not for the entirely predictable storylines.