Following the events of the previous film, Jurassic World, which made money through the power of CGI and nostalgia, J.A. Bayona takes us back to ‘Isla Nublar’ for more dinosaurs, death, and disastrous decision-making. With an advertising campaign which revealed 90% of the film’s plot and most twists, I went into this film with low expectations. However, I was hoping for a ride that would at least be the fun kind of stupid. The fun is there, but sadly, not consistently. For the most part, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is just a middle film trapped between its more compelling predecessor and a more promising future that can unfold in sequels. By the end, you may find yourself intrigued as to where the franchise is heading, but until then, there is a lot of stupidity to witness before you’re out of the theatre.
That stupidity makes itself apparent from the beginning. Upon hearing that a suddenly active volcano is about to erupt and wipe out the dinosaurs, ‘Claire’ (who for some reason now cares about the dinosaurs as animals rather than financial assets trying to eat her) decides to stage a rescue mission. Along the way, she is assisted by ‘Benjamin Lockwood’, a previously unnamed associate of ‘Hammond’ and ‘Owen’ who (despite containing all the masculinity of a 70s disaster flick) is still able to be guilt-tripped into going in order to save ‘Blue’, his Raptor friend.
there is never a sequence which matches the previous films for either thrills or suspense or a twist which has any real emotional impact
There are a few “ooh” and “aah” moments, but most scenes contain running, screaming, and a tonal shift which moves away from overblown action adventure into overblown horror. Unfortunately, there is never a sequence which matches the previous films for either thrills or suspense or a twist which has any real emotional impact. There is the occasional well-executed moment of tension or pathos but most of these moments exist between long stretches of mediocrity. This makes the overall viewing experience both frustrating and upsettingly predictable.
Once again, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard make average leads. Their chemistry is non-existent, their footwear is mildly improved, and they do a decent job at making us believe that they are really running from dinosaurs. The dinosaurs themselves are the worst they’ve ever looked. As is a tradition: the newer the film, the ropier the effects. That isn’t to say they are awfully rendered, it’s just that in comparison to the original trilogy they often feel weightless and unthreatening save for a few brief uses of animatronics.
The rest of the cast varies with Daniella Pineda and Isabella Sermon who are the best of the nice additions, the latter quite possibly the least annoying kid character in the series. None of the film’s multiple corporate villains stand out and once again, we have a new scary dinosaur unable to scare us the way the Raptors in the kitchen managed to in 1993. The only annoying character this time around is the unfortunately judged comic relief ‘Franklin’, played by Justice Smith, whose phobia of the T-Rex becomes grating and never has any payoff later down the line. And finally, there is Jeff Goldblum’s return as ‘Ian Malcolm’. He’s in the film for a few minutes and his best lines are in the trailers.
a childhood love of dinosaurs cannot save what is an otherwise average film in a franchise which may be better off extinct
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is overall a mess of a film. It tries to be a thrilling rollercoaster of action and dinosaur spectacle, a Gothic horror film and a platform to debate the morality of endangered species. Unfortunately, it barely manages to be any of these successfully and what one gets is a mostly bland story filled with baffling decisions and unsubtle lessons about man’s hubris. While the five-year-old in me was happy to see half a dozen new dinosaur species appearing for the first time, a few moments of genuine suspense and nods to the previous films – one of which potentially rips a hole through the entire film’s premise – a childhood love of dinosaurs cannot save what is an otherwise average film in a franchise which may be better off extinct.