June 20, 2018 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Movie Review)
It is a bit surreal to think that the Jurassic Park film franchise is 25 years old. Back in 1993, the idea was fresh, the effects groundbreaking, and a palpable sense of grandeur was present throughout almost every scene with the dinosaurs. But four movies later, a lot of those traits have lost their luster. The franchise has digressed into little more than typical monster movie fair and predictable plots which have the audience exasperated and wanting to fast-forward to the exciting bits.
Coming nearly 3 years after the release of Jurassic World in 2015, and set for release on Friday, June 22, 2018 through Universal Pictures comes the latest film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The fifth overall installment in the franchise, it does make some strides to fix this by providing some genuine scares and thrilling sequences, but fails to fix the plot problems by making it far too complex than it needed to be.
Here, the infamous island of Isla Nublar is experiencing a catastrophic series of volcanic eruptions that are guaranteed to destroy the island and all of its living inhabitants. The remnants of the abandoned Jurassic World are overrun with the dinosaurs and the initial plot is to rescue the dinos (seriously) and relocate them to a preserve paid for by the current holders of John Hammond’s estate.
Of course, greed quickly turns things sideways and the dinos are kidnapped to be sold off as weapons to an unrealistic cabal of international billionaires. Added to this is an almost useless subplot of the young granddaughter of Hammond’s old partner, and current caretaker of his assets, that starts off a bit interesting but by the end reaches confounding levels.
Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy 2014, Parks and Recreation series) and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village 2004, Terminator:Salvation 2009) reprise their roles from 2015’s Jurassic World as raptor expert Owen Grady and former Jurassic World Operations Manager Claire Dearing. They are both strong leads and their performances are good. Viewers will be relieved to know that Howard’s character is far less annoying than she was before and doesn’t spend the entire movie absurdly running around the jungle in high heels. James Cromwell (L.A. Confidential 1997, I, Robot 2004) plays Hammond’s old partner Benjamin Lockwood, a good-natured man who loves his granddaughter and knows that they made a mistake creating dinosaurs all those years ago.
Rounding out the supporting cast are Rafe Spall (Shaun of the Dead 2004, Prometheus 2012), as Lockwood’s greedy and corrupt assistant Eli Mills, and veteran character actor Ted Levine (The Silence of the Lambs 1991, Shutter Island 2010), as the head of the mercenaries, and the only one who isn’t faceless canon fodder.
Justice Smith (Paper Towns 2015, The Get Down series) and Daniella Pineda (Newlyweds 2011, The Vampire Diaries series) are the tech geek and paleo-veterinarian, respectively, and are so empty as characters that one wonders if it would have been better without them. Jeff Goldblum (The Fly 1986, Independence Day 1996) also appears as Ian Malcolm, spouting the pseudo-philosophical drivel his character is known for.
The dinosaurs themselves look fantastic as always, but it’s difficult to feel the same wonder we did in the early installments. The new gimmick seems to be genetically-modified dinos, and not the kind that make them as realistic as possible. No, now they are built from the ground up as super predators that never walked the Earth before – last time it was the Indominus Rex and this time the super dino is a raptor, called Indoraptor.
Streaked with gold stripes and a mouthful of overlapping, ill-fitted teeth, the Indoraptor, and the Indominus Rex before it, do not have the same impact as the originals despite their significant predatory upgrades. Like some of the supporting characters, they feel like simple plot placements in a predictable story. The best thing about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is that it has some truly scary moments in it, such as the opening sequence, that have been absent from the series for a long time.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an excellent example of a script that tries to do too much. One has to think why on Earth the people who have seen these creatures up-close and certainly know they cannot coexist with humanity are desperately trying to ensure they do. Ian Malcolm reflects that the current state of their world is an inevitable outcome of Hammond bringing dinosaurs back in the first place, and maybe so too is the state of this franchise.
It is effective as a popcorn movie and provides lots of explosive action, but one laments the days when the name Jurassic Park meant you were going to experience the very best in Techno Thriller movies. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 3 out of 5 stars.