JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM:
THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF “CLOSE BUT NO VELOCIRAPTOR!”
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** ½ out of 4
The T-Rex is back in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The dinosaurs are back in the fifth installment of the long-running Jurassic Park franchise, that Steven Spielberg (Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Ready Player One) brought to life back in 1993 and introduced groundbreaking special effects as one of the early films to utilize CGI technology alongside Terminator 2: Judgment Day. After a fourteen-year hiatus since the release of the poorly received, Jurassic Park III, Spielberg and director, Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) brought the dinosaurs back in the hugely-successful, Jurassic World, which not only gained a mostly positive reaction from both critics and audiences but would go on to become the highest-grossing Jurassic Park movie of all time.
Naturally a Jurassic World sequel was inevitable after the huge box-office profits it got, Spielberg returns as producer, Trevorrow returns as a writer, and the directing duty goes to J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible, A Monster Calls) to bring us Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. With Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3, Terminator: Salvation, The Help) reprising their roles from Jurassic World as former raptor trainer, Owen Grady and former Jurassic World operations manager, Claire Dearing along with Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, Independence Day, Thor: Ragnarok) reprising his role from the first Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park as chaos theory expert, Dr. Ian Malcolm.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a lot to live up to, would it be able to recreate its predecessor’s success, deliver a sequel on par with Aliens or The Empire Strikes Back, or would it fall victim to sequelitis where it tries to be bigger but isn’t quite made better? It’s the latter unfortunately, the film steps into a lot of familiar territory and repeats some of the same plot elements from the last movie, it isn’t exactly bad, but it feels like a step backwards from its predecessor.
Three years after the theme park and luxury resort, Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs out of containment, Isla Nublar sits abandoned by humans and the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the island’s jungles. When the island’s volcano starts to erupt, Owen and Claire put together a rescue mission to save the remaining dinosaurs from extinction.
Owen learns that the raptor he raised on Jurassic World, Blue is still alive and is apparently missing in the wild, which drives Owen to search for her. Claire has grown a new respect for the dinosaurs, became a dinosaur-rights activist, and makes it her mission to save every last surviving dinosaur on Isla Nublar.
Arriving on this unstable island, Owen and Claire’s expedition may uncover a conspiracy that could return the entire planet to a perilous order not seen since the prehistoric times.
The film also stars Rafe Spall (Prometheus, Life of Pi, The Big Short) as Eli Mills, Justice Smith (Paper Towns, The Get Down, Every Day) as Franklin Webb, Daniella Pineda (The Originals, American Odyssey, The Detour) as Dr. Zia Rodriguez, James Cromwell (Babe, Star Trek: First Contact, The Green Mile) as Sir Benjamin Lockwood, Toby Jones (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Frost/Nixon, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Gunnar Eversol, Ted Levine (Heat, Evolution, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) as Ken Wheatley, B.D. Wong (The Ref, Mulan, Focus) reprising his role from Jurassic Park and Jurassic World as Dr. Henry Wu, and Geraldine Chaplin (Chaplin, The Orphanage, The Impossible) as Iris.
Overall, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is serviceable popcorn fun at best but underwhelming and disappointing at worst. While there are some legitimately exciting action and dinosaur chase scenes, there’s surprisingly not much of it and the dinosaurs don’t get much screen-time here.
But with that said, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are still likable protagonists, Howard specifically has improved since the last movie and isn’t making constant mistakes after one another anymore, and Jeff Goldblum gets some screen-time as Ian Malcolm, though I would have liked to see more of him in the film. Everyone else however are the same cardboard cutout supporting characters we get in movies, the villains are the big bad corporation who want to get rich, the comic relief is insufferable, and a little girl gets shoehorned into the story because apparently having a kid character is mandatory in a Jurassic Park movie even if the kid isn’t established well.
Pacing wise, it feels like two completely different movies squished together, the first half feels like a Jurassic Park movie and everything’s big, epic, and cool. Then near the end of the second act it transitions to a monster movie in a mansion…yes, that’s where our climax is set.
Even though I didn’t praise the first Jurassic World movie it at least delivered a wild and extremely satisfying climax. The T-Rex and raptor battling the Indominus Rex was probably the most epic sequence ever filmed for a Jurassic Park movie, whereas the climax in here came off as underwhelming and anticlimactic to me.
I was hoping they would have done a Cabin in the Woods style climax, if we had to have a final battle in a mansion with an underground dinosaur dungeon. Wouldn’t it be epic to have either Pratt or Howard unlocked all the cells in the prison and just have all the dinosaurs run amok throughout the mansion, crushing and eating people? But no, we don’t get that, we get a same old climax on a roof with Pratt about to fall to his death and a raptor fighting a larger dinosaur with no T-Rex this time.
In terms of visuals, Fallen Kingdom suffers from the same problem I had with the first Jurassic World, too much CGI dinosaurs and they’re not as impressive looking as the dinosaurs from the first Jurassic Park. I’m not sure if there were animatronics used in this movie, but they looked like CGI was slapped on any practical effects as a cheap way out, it’s ironic that the 1993 movie’s CG effects (and effects in general) were more impressive than the effects here.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t as bad as The Lost World: Jurassic Park or Jurassic Park III but as a Jurassic Park or even a Jurassic World sequel it left me feeling kind of empty. Fallen Kingdom is perfectly serviceable, not bad but not great either, take it for what it’s worth.