Director: J.A. Bayona Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure
Run Time. 2h 8min. Age Rating. 12A Released: 6th June 2018.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Isabella Sermon, BD Wong.
After the downfall of Jurassic World the remaining dinosaurs now roam free on the abandoned island. With an active volcano set to erupt looming over the island, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) & Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) team up to mount a rescue operation and save the dinosaurs from extinction.REVIEW
In case you’ve been fossilized for the past 20 years the Jurassic franchise is now on it’s fifth installment. Originally taking us to an almost operational dinosaur zoo known as Jurassic Park; we’ve since hide in kitchens, dangled over cliffs in trucks, and dreamed about talking raptors? (ALAN!). Though a rebooted Jurassic World let us finally experience the sights of a fully operation prehistoric zoo tycoon. When that idea didn’t turn out so well (again) and the dinosaurs roam free, where can go from there? Well the plan of action for Fallen Kingdom is to blow the whole thing sky high! And we mean that literally. I’ll be honest, the trailers didn’t instill any amount of hope as it looked like a generic ‘splosion fest to rival the Fast & Furious franchise. Thankfully I was proven so very wrong I mean, Fallen Kingdom definitely has its fair share of spectacular explosions, but a much more intimate adventure hides beneath. An adventure that actually had me invested & excited throughout the film’s second & third act.
The plot is as you’d expect, focusing on Claire Dearing, who’s now an dinosaur rights activist trying to save the species, as an extinction level event is close to wiping out the dinosaurs. Provoking questions on a political level whether they deserve to be saved or not. It’s a pretty interesting debate but not one the film lingers on too much, as Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) & Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) approach Claire & Owen and a couple of her animal rights colleagues to head out to the island with a trained team on an undercover rescue op, regardless of what the government says.The film wastes no time showing off what’s in store, delivering what’ll surely be one of the best set pieces of the summer right from the get go. Fallen Kingdom goes on to a deliver a tale packed with grande scale & spectacle, whilst having the versatility to switch it up in the latter half of the narrative, becoming a much more intimate nerve shredding affair. This thematic shift is where Fallen Kingdom really starts to distance itself from what’s came before. It feels like the biggest diversion from the franchises roots yet, and will likely be what hooks you in to the movies new direction or completely turns you off.
Acting as a direct sequel to Jurassic World, only three member of the original cast are back; Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard & B D Wong. Gone is everyone else who joined the adventure beforehand (Sorry Jake Johnson). Which is probably where I have my first problem with Fallen Kingdom. For one reason or another Owen and Claire have broken up, so she has to go out and recruit him to save the island’s dinosaurs, alas resparking their chemistry. Yet 1 film prior Claire’s referring to the Dinosaurs as ‘assets’, but now she’s happily championing their cause, meanwhile Owen is back hammering a roof again? Because I guess it helps him look manly? The thing is their characters aren’t the most fleshed out, not by a long shot, but Dallas Howard & Pratt bring enough charisma and talent to the roles, they’re more than engaging enough to carry us through the 2 hour plus run time. Instead of their relationship becoming the central crux of the film again, Bayona leans on a different kind of relationship to connect us to his film, the bond between Owen & Blue. The duos past gets revisited quite a bit, making it more believable that Blue is Owen’s main reason for heading back to the island at all. Credit to them, the bond is nicely shown and helps remove any forced chemistry they might think of using on any of the less than great support cast.
Whilst the trailers promised us bombastic action & exploding islands, the strange things is none of those set pieces end up being the best parts of the movie. In fact its the opposite (I mean they’re still fun don’t get me wrong). It’s the close quarters hunting & gripping survival moments where Fallen Kingdom truly finds its feel (or claws?). Though that feels a bit of an undersell as when Isla Nublar’s full on meltdown takes place, it’s exciting popcorn action that’s packed to the brim with spectacle. It’s just when the chips are down Bayona does so much more with his intimate moments going all the way to create true moments of terror, whilst having the know how to step on the brakes and produce the odd tender occasion.
Speaking of that action, what is here is true summer spectacle. Everything is given that’ turn it up to 11′ feeling as the movie definitely aspires to be bigger than Jurassic World not only in its presentation, but its story as well. Though that’s perhaps a debt owed to director J.A. Bayona, whose visual flair constructs a whole host of thrilling set pieces, regardless of scale. There’s scene’s of erupting volcanoes & raging dinosaurs that’ll have you in awe of what’s transpiring in front of you. Yet thunderstorms and dripping lava will have you clenched to your cup holders in terror, as the tapping claws of a dinosaur’s foot echoes through the halls. Bayona handles them both with tremendous care and you’ll be hard pressed to stop for a breathe as you’re whisked from one to the other, thanks to cleverly crafted pacing that not only keeps the action moving, but seamlessly grinds down to a halt to develop a sense of fear for the oncoming threats.
Not everything is plain sailing for Fallen Kingdom, especially when it comes to it’s human characters. Almost all of the new comers besides Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) & Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) fail to bring anything interesting the mix (aside from their generic character stereotype). I mean why bring in a new tech nerd when you already have Jake Johnson in a similar role from the prior film? There’s also the slight tease of Jeff Goldblum’s appearance, which if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve essentially seen 90% of his entire role in the film. Then there’s the the debate of the film’s narrative direction, whilst to be fair to it, plays with our expectations, but ultimately the third act is exactly what you thought it’d be from the moment you meet Rafe Spall’s business minded Eli Mills. On the film’s third act, it also has both the best & worst parts of feature, bringing with it the clunky corporate plot line, whilst letting Bayona’s directing style shine in the film’s uneasy moments. There’s also some throwbacks to the iconic moments of the films that came before, but their execution feels sloppy, making them feel like shameless rip offs, rather than winking homages.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun with Jurassic World: Fallen kingdom. When the mayhem’s unleashed and the dinosaurs are on screen Fallen Kingdom’s an absolute blast to watch. It’s just a shame some rigid plot lines and lackluster characters deflate the overall experience.
Not too sure if you’ll enjoy what Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has to offer? Then we’d heavily recommend it if you’re a fan of any of the films below.