By: Kenny Hyman
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the second installment in the Jurassic World line, and the fifth entry in the franchise inspired by Michael Creighton’s groundbreaking novel. The movie, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, credited for A Monster Calls and Penny Dreadful, released in theaters on June 22nd to the glee of children and the parents who remember the magic of the original movie in 1993.
Fallen Kingdom is 128 minutes of additional franchise-dinosaur romp. This entry finds the characters, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing, reprised by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, introduced in Jurassic World returning to the site of the failed park on a mission to rescue the dinosaurs in the wake of island spitting volcanic eruptions–because why not build a murderous dinosaur zoo on an active volcano? Probably because any land attached to a potential extinction level event is cheap…
Owen and Claire team up with a group of mercenaries hired by an ally of the late John Hammond to save as many dinosaurs as possible (including the velociraptor, Blue), load them onto a boat, and set sail like a modern Noah’s Ark before the dinosaurs meet a fiery end like their ancestors. As if trekking around an island full of giant, man-eating beasts wasn’t dangerous enough, Owen and Claire find themselves trying to rescue the dinosaurs a second time in the same movie but this time from unscrupulous businessmen–an apex predator unlike Jurassic earth had ever seen. Step aside eight-ton carnivores, capitalism’s on the hunt.
Just when Owen and Claire think they have the dino-rescue suitcased, a new genetic creation starts getting it dino-revenge by biting heads off.
The film sheds its traditional hard-science fiction trappings for three different genres knitted together to form a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie–the really cool, Mary Shelley one. It starts off as a disaster movie, first introducing us to the politics of a world with dinosaurs, cloning, and two failed dinosaur zoos. Then the main characters, accompanied by a mouthy veterinarian and panicky computer specialist, set out to grim-reaper island and have to outrun an exploding volcano and stampeding dinosaurs after tracking down Blue. They accomplish the mission, but not before being betrayed and having to watch droves of dinosaurs plummet to their deaths over cliffs or burn alive in the ejecta of the volcano. Tragic.
Act II becomes a whodunnit with drama elements as the Owen and Claire sneak around a boat full of mercenaries trying to find a way to liberate the dinosaurs and discover who is pulling the strings behind the treachery. The tranquilized T-Rex scene is smooth dope.
The film shifts gears in Act III, becoming a monster flick with elements of biopunk, complete with a creepy mansion and an unground cloning facility. Owen and Claire scramble to discover the person behind the dino-napping plot before being chased around by not-Indominus Rex. The Act puts all cards on the table as it introduces us to new characters, characters that don’t matter, a familiar face, and a handful of mustache-twirling villains. Don’t worry, though, Blue is the most realized character in the movie and won’t disappoint.
The movie ends with a perplexing decision that was clearly chosen to allow the franchise to continue; the decision, though, leads to one last T-Rex-to-the-rescue moment that always motivates a “hell yeah!” and a hi-five from fans. The Jurassic franchise loves to feed mouth-breathers to T-Rex, and this movie is no different.
The script was pretty basic and the acting was overall cardboard. Even the well-regarded Chris Pratt was relegated to mostly facial expressions in favor of giving screen space to characters that don’t really matter to the story. Like I said earlier, Blue is the only character that you really can get a bead on and I think the movie could have benefitted by making her a point-of-view character. Other than The Land Before Time, name a movie where the homicidal dinosaur is a main character. Exactly. This would have been a first.
The cinematography, CGI, and puppetry are truly magical in the typical Jurassic fashion as are the action scenes. As usual, when the T-Rex shows up, it doesn’t disappoint. Additionally, the film sports a diverse cast of dinosaurs that will captivate children and adults alike.
The film uses a mix of old elements from previous films (i.e. arrival of a giant herbivore, the sudden appearance of T-Rex, a disabled, old man, and a human-created dino-species) and new elements (i.e. dinosaurs stalking children in their beds and weaponized dinos) to craft a action epic worthy of its predecessors. It has all the explosive action of a Michael Bay Transformers film without getting out of control and expresses a similar intelligence as the previous entries but it doesn’t go all Prometheus on you. A major plus is the suggestion of new direction (with an oh-by-the-way left-field human cloning) to keep the series fresh like we saw in the Fast & Furious series. The promise of a new direction should prevent fatigue, because an audience can only sustain so much dinosauring in a certain number of years.
Despite the wooden script and shallow acting (it wasn’t Chris Pratt’s fault), the film is a fun time, and a great way to spend a hot, summer night with the kids! Show up to the theater, buy $1000 in concession, and enjoy the awe-inspiring terror of dinosaurs brought to life! If you’re there to watch dinosaurs do dinosaur stuff around humans not trying to be dinosaured, you’ll have a smashing good time. If you’re not, well…you perhaps should stay home and watch reruns of the Golden Girls, Dragnet, and Knightrider.