Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Director: J.A. Bayona
Screenwriters: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Geraldine Chaplin, James Cromwell, Jeff Goldblum, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Daniella Pineda, Justice Smith, Rafe Spall, BD Wong
The monsters are out of the closet, they’re off the island and they’re in your bedroom, but these monsters are not the ginormous prehistoric animals you might expect; they are instead suited business men hell bent on profit no matter the cost. Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a fantasy intent on giving you the revolution wish fulfilment you’ve been waiting for: the literal killing of the evils of big business; a bloody good movie with the sort of equality mantra that communism could get behind; a “f*ck you” to the current direction of world politics and wealth distribution we could all do with a little more of.
Taking many of the well developed commentaries of the original Jurassic Park movie, and indeed the novel of the same name it was adapted from by Michael Crichton, Fallen Kingdom makes no bones about being a story told from the side of the dinosaurs. In fact, replace really cool Velociraptors and T-Rexes with cows and pigs and you have what is essentially a vegan propaganda piece filled with anti-war commentaries and a strong leaning towards the hippyest of “peace and love” stories you’ll likely see in a blockbuster for the next 20 years, even despite its viciously murderous set pieces and general reliance on guns and teeth to set up its thrills.
As an entertainment spectacle, Fallen Kingdom in many ways exceeds its predecessor – which often felt void of stakes, tried to tell its story from too many perspectives and was so attached to paying tribute to the Jurassic Park trilogy that it sometimes removed you from the story – as it followed an almost Haunted Mansion concept for the vast majority of the piece, with the dinosaurs playing a vital role in bringing the horror, violence and action to the narrative, which itself was much more focused and tightly knit around the singular idea of the original Jurassic World crew of Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard trying to protect the ancient animals from a couple of new types of extinction: death by volcano or death by exploitation.
Strangely, Pratt and Howard actually managed to create some sense of chemistry in this movie despite their huge misfire in Jurassic World, with Pratt being given a harder edge more akin to Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones than any of his other famed performances (‘Parks and Recreation’, Guardians of the Galaxy), much to the benefit of the character and his relationship to Howard’s now fully established bad ass animal rights activist Claire Dearing. The duo of course came across a few friends and foes along the way, with the former being largely represented by the similarly as tough and strong willed Zia (Daniella Pineda), performed with a charming moody milennial tone we can all identify with, and her wimpy co-worker Franklin (Justice Smith), who brought many a moment of comic relief yet didn’t feel overplayed or overused, and the villains being more a case of having to embody the evils of big business than offering any real character development yet were inclusive of a couple of worthwhile performances nonetheless (spoilers on who played these roles shall not be included here).
At the base of any Jurassic Park or Jurassic World movie is, of course, the quality of the effects, and despite a few early blips that seemed to put the movie in an almost video game realm of CG overload, Fallen Kingdom was actually most powerful in its moments of more intimate settings, with the film delivering spectacularly through the course of its 2nd and 3rd acts. The CG was so good that it became second nature that the creatures were there.
Just like Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom is intrinsically linked to many of the problems at the heart of its shortcomings, not least that its studio Universal Pictures now see it as a cash-cow that can make billions of dollars off the back of people wanting to see CGI dinosaur fights and can also create a heap of cash in merchandise and theme park attractions on the back of such moments. As such, there are moments of unbelievably human characteristics for certain dinosaurs that detract from how believable the piece may have been (as silly as that seems) and a continuation of the insanely high level of product placement that plagued this movie’s predecessor and seems to dictate the way certain shots are constructed and/or presented, to the detriment of the quality of the overall piece. In the screenplay, there are also several issues, mostly attaining to underdeveloped characters and using nostalgia-shaped shortcuts.
The biggest criticism that can be levelled at Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom however, is the criminal under-use of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm who utters all of 5 lines throughout the entire film and may leave you feeling you’ve been mis-sold what this movie is set to offer. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen almost all of Goldblum already. So, if he’s your only reason to see this release, don’t bother.
Despite its indomitable flaws, Fallen Kingdom is a sequel that not only makes for a worthwhile follow up to Jurassic World but actually goes one better than Jurassic Park’s sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park by exceeding the original in almost every way and finally putting a certifiable, recognisable print onto a movie franchise that may never be as good as its associated Spielberg-directed universe brethren, but is a whole heap of fun with a positive message and all the dinosaur action you can imagine. This could, and likely should, be a mega-hit of this summer’s box office; a bloody good cinematic experience.