SPOILERS for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Jeff Goldblum returned as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but his cameo was one of the film’s biggest disappointments. The character of Malcolm, who appeared in the first two movies of the franchise, quickly became a fan-favorite thanks to his natural charm and charisma. This is why there was so much hype when it was announced Goldblum would be back for Fallen Kingdom, though he cautioned it would just be a small role. Instead of being integral to the action, the actor essentially bookended the main story in two separate Senate hearing scenes.
Malcolm first shows up near the beginning of the film when politicians are debating what to do about the dinosaur population of Isla Nublar before a volcano on the island erupts. He disappears until the final moments, after the creatures escape from the Lockwood estate and run free on Earth, where he reiterates points he made in previous movies about the dangers of playing God and abusing technological powers. While he was an entertaining presence in the 1990s, something was off about Malcolm in Fallen Kingdom.
The cameo, which was seemingly shot in the course of a single day’s work, comes across as desperate fan service to excite viewers. Goldblum’s inclusion allowed Universal to use the actor in marketing (hot on the heels of his turn in Thor: Ragnarok) and the press tour, but there wasn’t a real storytelling reason for bringing Malcolm back to the fold. The script wastes Goldblum in a thankless part that hardly has any impact on the narrative. A case can be made Malcolm’s testimony convinced the Senate to not save the dinosaurs, but odds are that was always going to be the government’s decision (a rescue operation would cost a tremendous amount of taxpayer dollars). You could cut this bit out and the movie doesn’t really change, which is the ultimate sin of a scene.
Malcolm’s second and final scene seems him speak about the current state of Earth now that humans will have to co-exist with dinosaurs on the mainland, but his dialogue here comes across as overdramatic for the sake of setting up Jurassic World 3. While Malcolm’s concerns expressed during the famous lunch scene in Jurassic Park were completely valid, he seems to have misjudged the situation of Fallen Kingdom. A limited number of dinosaurs (from 11 species) broke out of the estate, and most of them are in a concentrated part of the planet (the continental United States), which in theory should make them somewhat easy to deal with (especially since they have trackers). You could say the filmmakers became occupied with whether or not they could have Malcolm recite his usual Malcolmisms, they didn’t stop to think if they should – given the events of the story. Besides, the main characters touch on the ramifications of the decision to save the dinosaurs right before, so Malcolm’s monologue has no clear logical purpose.
Goldblum would be interested in coming back for 2021’s Jurassic World 3, and has hinted that other franchise veterans like Sam Neill and Laura Dern could return as well. If that is to happen, director Colin Trevorrow is going to need to find an organic purpose for those characters to be used. A few legacy sequels, including The Force Awakens and Creed, have incorporated familiar faces to terrific effect, adding chapters to stories fans thought concluded long ago. That hasn’t happened in the Jurassic World movies yet, and they currently have one more shot to get it right.
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