As I sat and watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, towards the end I felt like I was ticking off little boxes on a checklist…
Bad guys get eaten in horrible ways because of stupid decisions?
T-Rex roars its iconic roar towards the end of the film in its perfect movie type pose?
The villains want to use the dinos for profit?
Humans question why they brought the dinos back in the first place?
Nostalgia is a powerful feeling and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom gets a lot of things right and is one of the only installments in the franchise that will more than likely bring you to tears (you really feel bad for the dinos in this one). The Jurassic Park theme always chimes in at just the right moments, the dinosaurs look fantastic and are as menacing as ever, but the franchise is definitely going to have to evolve to impress me when they release the inevitable third film in this trilogy. I got a major case of deja vu whiplash with this one.
This time around, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are on a rescue mission. There is an active volcano on Isla Nublar, the island where the park from the previous Jurassic World has crumbled, that is on the verge of erupting and it’s up to our intrepid heroes to save the day and rescue Owen’s pet raptor Blue, and all the dinosaurs that have been left there to live for the rest of their days. Of course, this being a Jurassic Park film, there’s the rich asshole, who in this case is Eli (Rafe Spall from The Ritual) who has sent them on this rescue mission with the sole purpose of selling all the dinosaurs once they get back to the highest bidders and in the process, creating the ultimate dino weapon with mad scientist Dr. Wu (BD Wong). This new creation (HAVE THEY NOT LEARNED FROM THE PREVIOUS FOUR FILMS?!) the Endo Raptor, is a T-Rex/Velociraptor hybrid that is an absolute killing machine and it will definitely sell to some evil-doer for a major profit.
While the story isn’t anything different and definitely evokes memories of The Lost World, Director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible, A Monster Calls) creates some great atmosphere here. The dinosaurs do become front and center eventually, but the film relies on them being hidden most of the time. Little glimpses of eyes, teeth, and claws can be seen with a flash of lightning or the flicker of falling lava, which makes these creatures the most menacing we’ve seen yet. It reminded me of the original film, where it relied more on practical effects and scares to evoke a reaction.
Fallen Kingdom will also really make you care about the dinos. Typically we just watch these films to see the chaos and destruction (which is great), but there were countless times throughout where I questioned just how wrong everything was with the whole set up. These creatures never should have been created and now that they are alive, they should be treated just like any other animal. The film definitely has some crazy action set pieces (like when the said volcano erupts), and it all looks amazing, but I was more impressed with the quiet moments where I was questioning things and the dinos were just lurking about.
The cast all do a serviceable job (Jeff Goldblum has a role here, but he’s severely underutilized). The standout star in this one for me is Maisie (Isabella Sermon in her first major movie role), the granddaughter of Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) who used to be a former business partner of John Hammonds (the creator of the original Jurassic Park). Her story in the film takes an interesting turn and I’m hoping they delve a bit further into her backstory and where her story will head next.
Despite some minor grievances and a serious sense of deja vu, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a ton of fun. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? I just hope they really change up the formula with the next one and deliver something we haven’t seen before. The way this one ends could send the story in a crazy new direction. Please take the risk! – NVJ
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is now playing in theatres