STARRING: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B. D Wong, Isabella Sermon and Geraldine Chaplin
When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.
A few years after the Jurassic World theme park was abandoned on the island of Isla Nublar, the U.S Senate has a hearing, debating on whether the dinosaurs on the island should be saved from an impending volcanic euription, which will wipe out the dinosaurs from the planet once again. Former park manager Claire Dearing is approached by Benjamin Lockwood, John Hammond’s former partner in creating the dinosaur-cloning technology, to help out in a secret rescue mission to retrieve the dinosaurs and place them on a new island sanctuary, where they will live without interference. Claire convinces the park’s former Velociraptor researcher, Owen Grady, to join the mission so he can locate Blue.
The sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom takes place three years after the Jurassic World theme park on Isla Nublar was thrown into chaos by the Indominus Rex getting loose, causing the theme park to be abandoned all this time. Now a volcano is set to erupt on the island, wiping out the dinosaurs from existence once again. As the Senate debates on whether to save them or not, Claire Dearing is approached to join a secret rescue mission to save them from the island and bring Owen Grady on board to locate Blue.
J. A Bayona (The Impossible and A Monster Calls) takes over the reins from Colin Trevorrow for the sequel and I feel that Fallen Kingdom is better in terms of direction compared to Jurassic World. The opening sequence is well constructed, the tension built-up is well executed and it’s one of the better scenes in the film. The film’s big money-shot sequence, the volcanic eruption, leading to the dinosaurs and are heroes attempting to flee the ash cloud, to being stuck in a sinking Gyrosphere, to a shot in the final moments on Isla Nublar that can be emotionally effective to some viewers and visually, it’s one of the most striking in the franchise’s history. Bayona’s direction is also solid when it comes to bringing the horror elements back into the franchise, particularly when the second half of the film focuses on the Indoraptor. The cinematography in the second half of the film is a particular highlight from Oscar Faura (whose collaborated with Bayona on The Impossible and A Monster Calls). Howard and Pratt’s characters are more well-rounded here, particularly Howard’s Claire, who is more engaging and sympathetic to how she was in Jurassic World and the chemistry between the pair works much better here. I also felt Isabella Sermon was good as Maisie, the granddaughter of Benjamin Lockwood. Ted Levine chews the scenery up as mercenary Ken Wheatley.
While J. A Bayona’s direction is the films main strength, unfortunately he has to work with potentially the worst material in the franchise. Everything is heavily telegraphed, from the one-dimensional antagonist provided by Rafe Spall, the ‘mystery’ of Maisie’s heritage, which also provides one of the franchises so-called ‘jump the shark’ moment and once it’s said, it is never brought up again, to the point it feels utterly pointless to have mentioned it to begin with. Also some of the side characters feel too cartoonish, to Toby Jones playing an auctioneer, to Justice Smith playing an IT technician whose primary existence it seems is to either scream or luck his way from A to B to meet the main characters. There’s also a small part of a Russian involved in the second half, though he’s no pivotal moment in the film, the attempted accent is so 90’s animated voice-over style ham-fisted that I couldn’t help but laugh. The film ends up where I had hoped it would in terms of continuing the franchise, though the journey to get there is confusing, characters decisions are questioned, especially everything involving James Cromwell’s Benjamin Lockwood, and you can’t help but feel that Fallen Kingdom is essentially a redux of Jurassic Park: The Lost World; Cast from the original arrive back to the abandoned park with a group of mercenaries, dinosaurs are brought back to land, chaos ensues. The film questions the moral dilemma of whether they should save the dinosaurs or let them return to extinction in the opening act, but it’s quickly changed for corporate greed and militarising their existence, which for me personally, makes the film less interesting as a result.
With J. A Bayona directing Fallen Kingdom, there’s genuine moments of terror and memorable moments that can be argued to be some of the best in the Jurassic franchise, but unfortunately the films script and tone in general is weak in comparison. Howard and Pratt are fine in their roles, Sermon, Pineda and Levine make a decent impression, while Spall is given poor material to work with as the one-dimensional Eli Mills. 5/10