Jurassic Park is one of the most iconic movies ever made. I was only 5 when it was released, and the T-Rex scene was so scary that I had to wait in the foyer with my dad whilst my brother finished the film. I did go back a few weeks later and managed to watch it (through my fingers). But, as flawed in a lot of places as the film is, it is a brilliant film. It is only after watching it so many times that you notice the holes in it (such as the T-Rex paddock floor level, how did the T-Rex get inside at the end without anyone notice it in the corner of their eyes, and was Samuel L Jackson’s arm thrown up high when he was ripped to shreds by the Raptors, so it could conveniently land on Ellie’s shoulder?), but by then it is too late; the film has already dug its claws into you and you hold it with high regard, leaving these nitpicks as just conversation pieces amongst friends.
When The Lost World came out, I was the perfect age for it, so I loved it. It is only watching it recently that I have noticed just how flawed that film is, but I must have watched it with rose tinted glasses, as I still love it. Sure it was not as good as the original, but it was another enjoyable Spielberg helmed Dino classic.
Jurassic Park 3 was where the series became a bit more questionable. It killed the franchise for 14 years, so it must have done something wrong. JP3 was a Sci-fi channel B-movie, but it is still an enjoyable popcorn flick that is no where near as good as the original, nor should really be counted when thinking about it (see: Alien Resurrection for a similar situation).
Then in 2015 we were given Jurassic World, which to me was not the greatest of the films, but it was another enjoyable cinema action summer movie, or a popcorn flick which is what the series had no unfortunately become. Which is to say that it is just a film you go to see at the cinema and lose yourself for a couple of hours, then when you leave, you never really think of it again. This is fine for some people, but for me, I want to come away from a film and think “yes… that was amazing”. When this happens, I can feel the buzz for the movie and then go away to read all the trivia on IMDB and talk about it for a while. Unfortunately Jurassic World was not the latter.
It was a perfectly fine film, but it played it too safe. It attempted to recreate the original Jurassic Park’s magic, but never manage to quite grasp it. It is by no means a bad film, but it is forgettable once the credits have rolled and we return to our mundane lives, and regrettably Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is not much different in that sense.
I would like to say that I do admire Fallen Kingdom a lot more than I do the first Jurassic World. Where as the first movie played it say in an attempt to reboot the original, Fallen Kingdom ventures off into uncharted territory, especially with the movie’s ending, not to mention blowing up the entire island (which is shown in the trailers so it’s not a spoiler), and the third act of the film is actually some of best parts of the entire series since the original movie, which is a bold thing to say, but I must admit that I really enjoyed the new direction that they took the series into here, it is just a shame that it took us a bit of a mediocre, yet-fun action packed, beginning two thirds to get to it.
Let me explain as best that I can without spoiling the film.
So the film picks up 3 years after the events of Jurassic World, and after an action packed opening with some of the biggest dinosaurs that the theme park has to offer, it is revealed that the active volcano on the island is going to erupt, killing everything on there and wiping the dinosaurs to extinction… once again, so Jurassic World only had about a three year life span anyway before this eventually happened. At this point I am wondering what happened to all the free roaming dinos on site B, you know Isla Sona… from JP2 & 3, but I guess that they must have either died or been moved back to Isla Nublar between the events of 3 and Jurassic World.
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard from the first JW film), currently leading her own dinosaur protection group, is hired by Benjamin Lockwood (played by James Cromwell); who is John Hammond’s former partner (who has never been mentioned but apparently they had a falling out before the original Jurassic Park was ever created) in creating the dinosaur-cloning technology, as he is planning on rescuing 11 species and moving them to a new island where they will live free.
She is given the details by Eli Mills, who handles all the details, and it is here that you immediately do not trust this guy who is almost reminiscent of John Hammond’s nephew from The Lost World.
But they need Velociraptor DNA and Blue (the friendliest Raptor who ever lived) is the last surviving of her kind, so they need to hire Owen Grady (Chris Pratt).
Now I like Chris Pratt when he was Star Lord in Guardian’s of the Galaxy, but that was because it was pretty unique at the time, when I saw him in Jurassic World, I realised that he was playing the exact same role, and so it watered it down a bit. He is pretty much exactly the same as he was in nearly every film he has ever been in (even down to his haircut), which is a bit of a shame as I feel he is being a bit type casted at the moment for the handsome, funny, hero, with shortish brown hair and a stubbly beard; the kind of butter sandwich that contributed to my feelings on how the first Jurassic World played it safe.
Anyway, they eventually head to the island and are joined by a shady looking group of gung-ho mercenaries, who are more interested in getting the job done as quickly as possible, with total disregard to the animal’s well being, which, as you can tell, is definitely going to clash with Claire and Owen’s feelings towards the dinos.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the island is suddenly going tits up and its a race against time to get the animals off the island as lava and chaos descends onto the island.
This section of the film last 45 minutes, from the beginning of the movie and the opening credits (including the action packed prologue) up to the time when they leave the island after the volcano has destroyed it (come on! It’s not a spoiler! There is no stopping that volcano). This shows just how rushed this entire section of the film felt. There are few moments (probably 7 minutes in the entire 45 minutes) which is conversations that last longer than a sentence explaining something occurring or about to occur in the next action sequence.
Once the team reaches the island, it is just literally action sequence after action sequence. Which is all good in one sense, as it is entertaining to watch, especially when you throw in a T-Rex or a Baryonyx, but it is essentially just colours flashed before our eyes to hold our attention.
If you think back to the original movie, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour before any action actually occurs (not including the prologue “Shoot her!” opening), and this goes to show that you do not need endless action packed sequences one after another to make a good film.
I said a similar thing in my Solo review, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom follows suite that these summer films are just action set pieces after one another, and lack in the story department.
Sure, Fallen Kingdom begins with a very basic storyline, but there was so much more that it could have done to build up the events, therefore making the action sequences more intense the longer we are left waiting for it. If you have one straight after the other, then it does unfortunately water it down, as we are not left alone before another one begins to flash more colours at us.
After this has occurred, the tone of the film completely changes. It almost feels like an entirely new film, to the point where I personally think that Fallen Kingdom would have been better if it was two films; one about the island and its eventual destruction (as you could have easily stretched that 45 minutes out and threw in some character development and just make the film a lot more rounded, not to mention build up the second part, like with its villain and what not), and then make the second half into another film.
For me, as I said before, the second half of Fallen Kingdom was actually really good, once it got going. It all occurs in a large estate where ‘something’ gets loose during the night, when the true motivations of the villains have revealed themselves and their plan is occurring, and this creature begins hunting and slaughtering anyone it can find.
It almost feels like a bit of a horror movie, and I really thought that this was a great direction that the series could head in.
I loved the video game Dino Crisis, which made Dinosaurs actually quite scary, and I really enjoyed these scenes of Fallen Kingdom purely because of this. If they had just evolved this section of the film and made it last the entire length of the movie, along with various character build up and development and yadda yadda yadda, then I could have easily seeing this one of the best films in the entire series (bold words again, and of course I am not even remotely including the original JP into this statement, so fear not).
Unfortunately this section of the film lasts for maybe a third of the entire runtime, and as such it has been a long and strange journey to get here, which really does let Fallen Kingdom down in my opinion.
I have not even mentioned the two new additions to the cast who join Claire and Owen for the entire film, who are the “badass” female vet (who I found to be a very unlikeable) character, and the scared comic relief kid whose only purpose in this film is to scream, make worrying comments, and eventually redeem himself in some cliché fashion (which of course is present).
There is also one major plot point towards the end of the film which really should have either had more screen time, or just been sacked off entirely. I feel that this was an incredibly important factor in both the Jurassic Park lore, as well as changes nearly everything we know, but it is so loosely touched on that it seemed almost silly to include it. It is not even a point that can be really further elaborated on in future films, as it is all kind of wrapped up there and then.
One aspect that I did enjoy was that this film did actually make you feel really sorry for the dinosaurs that are either stuck on the crumbling island, or are running for their life from the lava that follows. There is also a bit towards the end where you feel for them and fear that they may be slaughtered. It is a nice touch of making us relate to the creatures, to the point where we could imagine feeling the same way if it was true to life, and for that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom does a great job.
There are also a couple of good little nods that link back to the original JP film, but this is not something uncommon as the first Jurassic World film featured similar little nods.
Overall, if you were a fan of the first Jurassic World film, then you will find a lot more of the same here. Its a fun action packed popcorn flick that holds your attention for the entire length of it. Its flawed but its fun, and so you can just leave your brain at the door and go and enjoy it for while it lasts.
But if you are after something that really pushes the boat out of the franchise and even remotely recaptures the magic of the original, or something that plans of developing its characters and interesting plot points and themes (for which Fallen Kingdom does have some brilliant ideas, which are maybe just not implemented quite right), then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom falls into exactly the same pitfalls that its predecessor fell into the first time around.
With that said the last third of the film is great and really does a fantastic job of mixing up the formula, it is just a shame that the rest of the film does not follow in this fashion.