Much better than I feared, not as good as I'd hoped.
Major props to the art department of the film, the movie looks great and the CGI was really well-integrated. Scenes where characters and dinos were interacting in closeups looked really nice and it actually felt like an actual creature was there and getting touched, not just a green-skinned thing that was replaced later. I think some animatronics were used, but it's hard to tell.
The premise of the new bad dino is also cool, turning living creatures into products to be marketed and focus-group tested. The Raptor-Squad was a very cool idea as well, but depending on how much you're willing to suspend your disbelief, you might be disappointed or think its silly.
In the end, the moral remains the same though: Don't mess with nature. I was hoping for a Jeff Goldblum cameo and him going "How many times do I have to tell you 'I told you so'?" but no luck there.
Which is also where the downsides start: The plot is very predictable, especially if you've seen the trailers. It's pretty obvious after the first 15 minutes who will live and who is dino-grub, with one exception IMO. While the characters are likeable, especially Chris Pratt as Owen, brothers Zach & Gray and of course Dr. Wu, the rest are not quite as interesting.
Pictured: The deepest relationship in the movie.
The other thing that bothered me a bit was the comedic relief. In the end nearly every action-scene was followed up with a funny one-liner or reaction. The first movie had those scenes too, but the difference was that the characters were playing it straight and in character in that film; here it feels forced because there is just way too much of it, which takes away from the suspenseful scenes and a lot of times feels out of place considering the situation the characters are in.
Overall I really like the movie. It's a fun 2 hour adventure film, but if you prefer to wait until it comes out on DvD/stream, you're not missing anything by not seeing it in cinemas. I would rate it equal or a little higher than Lost World, definitely better than 3 but not as good as the original.
There can only be one king after all
Some random thoughts/observations/plotholes:
- If Indominus Rex was raised in the relatively small paddock since hatching, and her only interaction with humans was through getting fed and watching them through the glass of the observatory, how did she know they would fall for claw-marks on the wall as a distraction? We saw the raptors lay a trap in Jurassic Park 3, but that was a living victim used in order to lure others back to help it, something an animal might actually do in the same situation. Leaving a fake trail in order to lure humans into the paddock requires a level of intelligence no raptor ever reached. Call her Dr. I-Rex for her PhD in human behavioral psychology.
- If she remembers that she had a control implant under her skin and she wanted it gone, why did she wait until outside to claw it out? Yes, they sell her as so smart that she can set ambushes, but they also show her randomly killing anything living she encounters while outside her enclosure, so her planning there does not go beyond "see where I fit in the food-chain", as Owen puts it. If the implant bothered her so much that she would injure herself to remove it, she probably would have done it while in captivity when she had all that time between feeding hours to think and plan and walk in circles. Also how did she know it was a tracking device. After she removed it she lingered in the area as if to wait for more human snacks to show up. Again: give her a PhD.
- Dr. Wu messed up in the first Jurassic Park and used frog DNA of a species that could change sex to complete the dinosaur's genetic code, allowing them to breed despite trying to prevent them from doing exactly that by making them all female. So why does he make the same mistakes again 20 years later and uses DNA from multiple species to create Indominus Rex, without checking for potentially dangerous and unintentional abilities like the chameleon camouflage, infrared vision etc.? One would think he of all people learned that lesson the hard way.
- Who thought it was a wise idea not to let the people charged with watching the animals know what exact abilities they have? I get that they want to protect the genetic code, but telling people like Owen "btw, there is some raptor DNA in the new gene-spliced dino" when asking him to rate the paddock's safety does not tell anybody which specific part of the DNA they used. You are risking the lives of employees by withholding vital information from them that could easily be put into laymen's terms without giving away any secrets.
- Speaking of knowing what I-Rex was made of: Claire was the one telling Owen he wasn't cleared to know the genetic makeup of the creature, implying she knew which species were used to create it. If so, why didn't she warn him about its raptor DNA when the raptor squad was sent to hunt it down?
-"We can use raptors as living weapons and they follow orders". The military liason from InGen really deserved to get eaten. How does this company put somebody with that attitude in charge of an operation after 2 decades worth of evidence that dinosaurs are not going to follow your orders.
-If ACU is a paramilitary unit, how come they have NO helicopter pilots? You have enough money to invest 26 million into a single new animal for an attraction but you can't spring for two or three choppers from which to shoot rogue dinos with tranquilizers? They are only called in case a dino escapes containment, so why do they go out on the ground where the dinos tower over them instead of using helicopters with thermal imaging from above to track them down? Police are using that very technology to find ordinary fugitives in our cold, hard reality, so why does your sci-fi park not have those? Hammond may have spared no expense, but you clearly did.
-Raptor Squad chasing through the jungle was a great scene and it was refreshing to see the raptors not going after the humans for a change, even if that only lasted for so long. Muldoon probably would have thrown a fit if he had survived the first movie.
-The romance subplot between Claire and Owen felt forced. It was perfectly fine that they had some history together and that it didn't work out, but having that forced kiss right after Claire whacks a Dimorphodon in the head and shoots with a tranquilizer rifle somewhat ruins her awesome moment and also feels out of character for both of them in that situation, especially if her primary concern is to save the lives of her nephews, Owen and all the other park guests.
-The team-up between the T-Rex and Blue in the end was an awesome spectacle, like a prehistoric wrestling match. Only thing missing would have been a commentator like Mean Gene narrating that smackdown. The fact they both survive was a nice touch. Even if he needs a little help, your super-smart iPod-joke of a dino stands no chance against the Tyrannosaur. Deus Rex Machina ftw! Hail to the king, baby!