Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Universal Pictures

The Kingdom Has Fallen

A new Jurassic movie, a new dinosaur. And an inevitable upgrade in a world and summer filled with massive blockbusters looking to top one another. Well, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn’t just have those other blockbusters to top, it has four previous blockbusters one of which is considered one of the greatest action films of all time to top. That’s a lot to live up to. A lot of tones to juggle, and a lot of history to adhere to. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom falls short before its predecessors, failing to live up to it’s horrifying promise of tyrannic terror.

To say there is nothing new, is to exaggerate only a little. There are new dinosaur designs, although you won’t be able to tell the difference. There are new vehicles and weapons, but the design is uninspired so you won’t remember them. There’s a plot to the film, but the story shifts purpose and setting so frequently that it feels as if the narrative is tied loosely together with a string. There are a few fun moments, most of which are spoiled in the trailers. The brand new Indo-Raptor has a couple of neat tricks and a terrifying claw of a hand.

New director J.A. Bayona uses the dinosaur to fun effect. It’s just too little too late. Many were worried that the trailers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom were revealing too much. That’s not the case, but it should have been. Surprisingly little time is spent looking at glorious dinosaurs in the nature of Isla nublar. In fact, the movie is missing the franchise’s signature swelling theme as a herd of beautiful CGI dinosaurs walked by. It’s a quiet moment that is sorely missed in a loud and explosive movie.

“Life cannot be contained.”

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has quite a few issues, but they all stem from a poor script. A similar issue that plagued Solo: A Star Wars Story. Here the story is much more dire. Colin Trevorrow returns as the co-writer and producer for the sequel; he served as the director for the first film.

Unlike the previous film, Fallen Kingdom literally has no point. The island coming to an end is about 30 minutes of the entire film, and isn’t given much attention.  The film spends more time telling you the characters care about dinosaurs then showing the characters caring about dinosaurs.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Universal Pictures

Watching a terribly filmed “home movie” of Chris Pratt training a CGI Raptor will not bring alligator tears to audience eyes. It feels forced, and it should. At one point, it feels as if Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is making a point of not making the dinosaurs the villains. Instead it focuses on a room of “war-mongers.” Then, nothing comes of it and then of course it makes the dinosaurs the villains. Whenever a small snippet of interesting rears its head, it’s quickly pulled back down by some annoying story element that just doesn’t fit. Before faulting the performances, the cinematography, the set pieces, the production design, or anything else it should be noted the ideas start from the script. Every other aspect had potential, but when there isn’t an interesting story to build on, a good crew can only do so much.

“Life breaks free.”

Let it be said that after 25 years, it’s still pretty awesome to watch a dinosaur destroy or interact with anything. Apparently, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has the most animatronic dinosaurs since the original Jurassic Park. It shows. Arguably the best scenes in the movie involve watching characters interact with a physical dinosaur or react to its presence. That’s when Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom feels like a sequel to Jurassic Park. J.A. Bayona, the director, expressed a desire in bringing horror to the franchise. That lingers in certain parts of the film. Especially in the design and execution of the new dinosaur, the Indo-Raptor.

It’s long claw is put to good use. Although it becomes clear that Bayona didn’t get to make the horror film he wanted. The Tyrannosaurus Rex may have the least screen time in the franchise’s history, simply making a cameo or two. Universal Pictures would never be this “brave,”  but having a Jurassic Park sequel that only featured dinosaurs would be something to behold. When you’re watching characters as wooden as Owen and Claire, you’re already halfway there!

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Universal Pictures

That’s a slight exaggeration, but no character is escaping their obvious stereotype in this movie. Claire wears the heels; Owen uses his hand to try to stop dinosaurs from coming at him. It plays out exactly like you think it would. Even to the hilariously schlocky ending that seems more appropriate for a Hallmark movie than it does for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Thanks to twists and turns that do nothing but confuse and disappoint, very little sense can be made of the world left at the end of the film. An ending that is remarkably similar to a previous ending in the franchise. A blatant and overt use of “artistic license.”

The Verdict

Owen and Claire just can’t seem to make it work, can they? Before the first Jurassic World, there was a date that didn’t work out. Before Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, there was an entire relationship that didn’t work it out. These terrible characters just can’t catch a break. Or perhaps in a world filled with horrible and unlikable stereotypes the only interesting thing is really just dinosaurs. That’s pretty much the case with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. There are no new lines to remember or recite it, there’s no swelling Jurassic Park theme to get stuck in your head for days after your screening.

Outside of a few interesting horror elements, this is another bland sequel in a franchise that ran out of original ideas with its original film. Director J.A. Bayona tries his best to infuse some style and flare, but can’t seem to get it past the illogical and nonsensical script. Whether or not this is the fault of Colin Trevorrow and co-writer Derek Connolly is unknown. But considering the hilarious notion behind some of the film’s final moments, it could only come from a bad script. Some intriguing ideas can be found, but they’re quickly abandoned for want of annoying characters and a tonal mess.

Once again, the most redeeming quality to be found is in the dinosaurs. Though their actions may be idiotic, this is the franchise that began the wonder of large CGI landscapes and creatures. The trend continues with beautiful dinosaurs, each with their own identity and motivations.  If only the same could be said for their human counterparts. It’s a shame that the kingdom fell in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, ensuring the future of the franchise is equally bleak.

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