‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Review

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the fifth entry in the franchise, following the box office juggernaut of Jurassic World, and it is also the fifth best film in the franchise. Jurassic World, while a fun re-launch of the series, suffered from forgettable characters and a predictable plot. Fallen Kingdom is more of the same.

Fallen Kingdom begins three years after the destruction of Jurassic World due to the escape of the genetically modified killer dinosaur, the Indominus Rex. On Isla Nublar, an island now dominated by dinosaurs without human intervention, a once-dormant volcano threatens to send the dinosaurs back to extinction. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), a former administrator of Jurassic World, now runs a dinosaur protection group seeking to rescue the dinosaurs from Isla Nublar. As the world debates the moral implications of leaving the dinosaurs to die, the United States legislature elects to do nothing. Immediately upon hearing news of the US government’s inaction, Claire receives a call from Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a former partner of John Hammond and the mastermind behind Jurassic Park.

Claire travels to Lockwood’s gigantic estate in Northern California and meets with his aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). Mills and Lockwood describe their plan to relocate the doomed dinosaurs to a new sanctuary island without a theme park — what a fantastic idea. Mills and Lockwood need Claire, specifically her palm print, so they can get access to the tracking devices within the remaining dinosaurs. And they also need Claire’s help recruiting Owen (Chris Pratt) for the mission, as he’s the only person capable of capturing Blue, the elusive last-surviving velociraptor. Owen reluctantly agrees to come on the mission. In typical Jurassic Park fashion, once the characters reach Isla Nublar, all hell breaks loose and a sinister plot is revealed.

The relatively unknown J.A. Boyana (The Impossible, A Monster Calls) helmed the film after taking the reins from Jurassic World director, Colin Trevorrow. I haven’t seen any of Boyana’s prior films so I can’t criticize him much, but there’s little any director could have done to salvage this script. Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, the team to pen the first, returned to write the screenplay and it seems the partnership ran out of steam. It doesn’t matter what I think, though. Jurassic World made $1.672 billion at the worldwide box office – that’s fifth all time. Universal Studios probably told Trevorrow and Connolly to do the exact same thing they did in the first film. Weaponized raptors, automatic rifles, and a genetically modified dinosaur were the winning combination for Jurassic World, and Fallen Kingdom has all of that PLUS an erupting volcano. This leaves me wondering if Spielberg, the director of the original Jurassic Park and an executive producer on Fallen Kingdom, had any actual input in the film itself. The story lacked creativity and tried too hard to copy the formula of Jurassic World, resulting in a similar outcome with lazier execution.

Chris Pratt’s performance is one of the few redeeming qualities of this film. Particularly in the first act, Pratt was in A+ form and exuded cool as the badass former raptor trainer building a lakeside cabin in the mountains. His charm and charisma carry the other actors throughout the film. Bryce Dallas Howard reprises her role as Claire and, as in the first film, she doesn’t have much range of emotion. At the end of Jurassic World, Claire had seemingly formed a better relationship with her nephews, who she hadn’t seen in years, and she and Owen were rekindling an old flame, but all of that is undone by the time we meet the characters in Fallen Kingdom. Claire is once again a single, work obsessed woman who must reluctantly seek out Owen’s help. Once again, Bryce Dallas Howard and the rest of the cast are all fine actors, but with this script, there wasn’t much room for anyone to work.

Blue continues to be a central player in this film and should get top billing. She had a huge role in Jurassic World, particularly the third act, and the same is true in Fallen Kingdom. As Blue is the sole remaining velociraptor, her unique genetic traits are invaluable to those with ulterior motives.  Blue is once again the true protagonist of the film, facing a genetically modified antagonist in the climactic fight in the same vein as the Indominus rex from Jurassic World. I wouldn’t be surprised if Universal Studios does away with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard and has an all dino cast for Jurassic World 3.

The CGI and practical effects were great. I don’t know what an erupting volcano or dinosaurs would really look like, but these looked pretty good to me. CGI and “movie magic” has come so far since Jurassic Park’s release in 1993 that the dinosaurs themselves aren’t nearly as awe-inspiring as they once were. Many of the dinosaurs look similar but vary in size and color, and none are as memorable as the Triceratops or Tyrannosaurus rex from Jurassic Park. It seems that the filmmakers put more and more dinosaurs on the screen just to show us they can. The highlight of the special effects team’s work was the volcanic eruptions and the stampeding dinosaurs that were featured in the trailers.

With all this being said, you know what you’re getting with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: turn your brains off and watch some dinosaurs wreak havoc for a couple of hours. That’s exactly what this film delivers with weaponized raptors, automatic rifles, a genetically modified dinosaur, and a volcano. Sign me the fuck up. Unfortunately, the Jurassic Park franchise has gone the way of the Transformers franchise — an orgy of CGI dinosaurs with human characters that fail to garner any empathy. I’m still going to see these movies in theatres, I’m just going to talk shit on the internet when I get home.

61/100

 

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