Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 2 hrs. 8 min.

Release Date: June 22nd, 2018 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: J.A. Bayona Actors: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, BD Wong, Geraldine Chaplin, Isabella Sermon

 


 

T

hree years have passed since the disaster at Jurassic World, but the fallout still reverberates across the globe. With the discovery of a volcano primed to explode on Isla Nublar, a special committee is formed to decide whether the government should intercede on the dinosaurs’ behalf. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), now the leader of the Dinosaur Protection Group, and her colleagues Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) are heartbroken when they learn of the committee’s decision not to save the endangered reptiles. The organization gets one last chance at success when the former partner of John Hammond, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), offers them a role in the rescue of several species of dinosaur from the island. Recruiting velociraptor behavioral expert Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Claire and her crew travel to Isla Nublar and set about tracking the dinosaurs, in particular the highly intelligent raptor “Blue.” But things aren’t as they seem, and when Lockwood’s hired guns betray Claire and her friends, they must band together in a harrowing fight for survival.

“Relax. Anything in here would be dead by now.” For some reason, every time a team of dinosaur sample collectors set about digging for valuable remains, a torrential downpour strikes. Sure enough, the opening moments once again capture what should be a simple retrieval mission turned into a helter-skelter fight for survival against enraged, prehistoric behemoths – all while wind and rain make communication and sight terribly challenging.

This leads to a trend of impressive shots in which pitch-blackness is momentarily lit to reveal a monstrous maw steadily drawing nearer to an unsuspecting victim. Later in the film, this same cinematographic gimmick is reused, also to decent amusement, with creeping shadows or startlingly brightened backgrounds framing oversized stalkers. It’s difficult not to be entertained by the quality of the visuals in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” especially because big-budget, theatrical dinosaur features so rarely come along. But it’s evident through the gaping plot holes and the unimaginative storyline that Universal’s assemblage of filmmakers have run out of ideas for these highly cinematic antagonists.

As with “Independence Day: Resurgence,” the world has had to adapt to the existence of extraordinary, sci-fi events (here, a dinosaur theme park run amok); cloned monstrosities are now a fabric of everyday life, even if the facilities aren’t currently operational. A BBC news clip mentions the class action lawsuit settlements (for the surprisingly low sum of $800 million) to appease all the families whose relatives became dino food, while dinosaur rights activists hound politicians to act on the fate of Isla Nublar. Curiously, Dearing’s shared goal with Lockwood is to keep the dinosaurs alive for the sake of human children, despite maintaining that the formerly extinct reptiles are to be relocated to an isolated existence, completely independent from mankind.

Problematically, this latest chapter in the franchise is overloaded with repetition. It isn’t about reinventing the series; it’s about repeating it. The perpetually wide-eyed Claire is the animal-loving, sympathetic rescuer; another random (though tied to Hammond with a line of backstory or two) rich guy has a limitless supply of money to build new dino species in a laboratory housed in the massive basement of his castle; a nerdy hacker manages to open doors and manipulate computers when needed; a hip, female, dino doctor sports tattoos and acts tough; and a precocious little girl comes in handy when the heroes have run-ins with the swarm of heavily-armed mercenaries acquired for dino-wrangling. The locations and vehicles and weaponry and even the dinosaurs themselves are similarly too familiar; there’s not an original bone in this picture’s body.

Despite an overlong detailing of bit parts, the dinos eventually attack, while the spontaneous, hazardous weather pounces on the survivors, interfering with escapes and rescues. There’s a lot of environmental chaos, which heightens the suspense, even if those moments mirror sequences from the previous four episodes. Also predictable are the deceptions and betrayals by fellow humans; Dearing and Grady have a nasty habit of meddling with egomaniacs and their greed and corruption. Plus, everything seems to go wrong once the first dinosaur breaks free from its cage; a genetically engineered, super smart dino hybrid can’t seem to catch a panicky little girl; and police or the military are never around when giant monsters are on the loose, devouring people left and right. Dinosaur havoc might be a rarity for the big screen, but this latest endeavor suggests that a never-ending series of monotonous, formulaic, CG-heavy blockbusters will be all that this property has in store for the future. Like so many other theatrical entities (including “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter”), it must be too lucrative to wait for a truly clever script.

– The Massie Twins

  • 3/10