Twenty-five years ago Steven Spielberg shocked the world with his mega-blockbuster “Jurassic Park”, which not only created a hype about dinosaurs but also started a franchise that extended to a fifth installment. Following the success of “Jurassic World”, the sequel “Fallen Kingdom” starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard was quickly greenlit; however, the sequel didn’t meet its high expectations and ended up being a weaker film from the series.
“Fallen Kingdom” begins three years after the fall of the real-dinosaur adventure park and now the prehistoric creatures have taken over the island. When a volcano eruption threatens to re-extinct Tyrannosaurus Rex and others, Claire Dearing (Howard) takes off her high-heels to join an expedition to save the dinosaurs and release them on a new island sanctuary. She asks her crush and dino-whisperer Owen Grady (Pratt) for help, and since Grady misses his Velociraptor-buddy, Blue, he cannot refuse. However, with a turn of events our heroes have to run for their lives from the dinosaurs and from their own team.
J.A. Bayona replaces Colin Trevorrow in the director’s chair which ended up being substantially helpful for the CGI aspects of the film. Bayona already proved his directing talent with his last movie “A Monster Calls” that he can handle huge CGI-creatures, and in the film’s third act, he brings in his experience with creepy houses from “The Orphanage.”
Jurassic Park and ghost houses seem to be a strange mix, but when the dinosaurs take over a huge estate, the reptiles are frightening for the first time in 25 years. DOP Oscar Faura’s captivating play with light and shadows underscores the haunting aspect and makes “Jurassic World 2” almost look like a horror film, but thanks to a PG-13 planned production you’ll hardly see any blood. The film is too tame for adults and too frightening for kids.
Franchise mastermind Trevorrow wrote the script with Derek Connolly. The overall story is the film’s biggest problem because it is a two-hour-long setup to get the dinosaurs from the distant Isla Nublar back on the mainland. This is merely a prologue for “Jurassic World 3” but without the coherence. Overall, it is a bland sequel and its only purpose was to set up future films for the franchise. Also, the villain is one of the most boring and unspectacular ones in film history.
The fact that “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is still somewhat entertaining must be credited to Pratt’s goofy charm and Bayona’s talented direction. Together with cinematographer Faura, Bayona creates excellent tension and dynamic action scenes and only sometimes the shot list gets a little too self-referential like when the dinosaurs can use door handles.
It’s disappointing that the movie doesn’t intensify many of the interesting aspects it brings up. Is it OK to let the dinosaurs die? What are the ethics of cloning or the commercial usage of newly created animals? What is a life, human or reptile, worth? And how heavy is the responsibility? Both Claire and Owen helped build a park that cost the lives of hundreds with no end in sight, but neither shed a tear because they were too busy saving the dinosaurs. None of these questions even gets a rudimentary discussion, but if it does it would get in the way of the lightness of the movie.
There isn’t any basic logic in this summer-tentpole-movie, and the plot holes are big enough for a fully-grown Brontosaurus to fall through. This sequel plays in a minor-league with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Matrix: Reloaded, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Ocean’s Twelve or Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones: visually exciting sequels with underwhelming, and at times laughable, narratives.
If you’re looking for something light and easy to digest after spending the whole day in the sun, this PG-13 massacre might be something for you, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Directed by J. A. Bayona
Written by Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly
Cinematography by Oscar Faura
Music by Michael Giacchino
With Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B. D. Wong, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum
128 min, PG-13