JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the latest installment in the “Jurassic Park/World” series takes place in the aftermath of the previous film.  With the Jurassic World theme park destroyed, former raptor tamer Owen Grady and park director Claire Dearing reunite three years later to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that is about to burst on the now-abandoned Isla Nublar.  However, while reuniting with Blue, the last surviving Velociraptor, a volcano erupts on Isla Nublar, leading to the subsequent extinction of the remaining dinosaurs and capture of Blue.  Following their escape, Owen and Claire meet up with Maisie, the granddaughter of the late John Hammond’s colleague Lockwood, and stumble upon various rogue profiteers and mercenaries, all while trying to save the last surviving dinosaurs.

 

While director J.A. Bayona admirably attempts to create a more intense, horror-like atmosphere in this entry (complete with some nicely backlit shots in Oscar Faura’s cinematography and a haunted house-like chase sequence), the film, as written by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (director of the previous film) descends into becoming yet another chase movie, with little time for genuine character growth or development.  The destruction of Isla Nublar comes across as a repeat of the park breakout in “Jurassic World,” with the mostly CG dinosaurs diluting the whole intensity of it, and as a result, what should be an emotional moment just falls flat.  The comedy feels desperate here, even more so than in “World,” with only a few cute gags having effective execution. The classically witty one-liners from Dr. Malcolm are missing, and as with “World,” a pseudo-hipster technician and paleo-veterinarian are featured as (rather unwanted) comic relief.  Even the little bits of fan service, including cameos from Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Malcolm and BD Wong’s Dr. Wu, only serve to showcase just how low this franchise has sunk.  A few jump-scares, mostly involving characters hanging for dear life on ladders, come off as mostly laughable and even border on the predictable.  Once again, the villains are reduced to being nothing more than flat, two-dimensional capitalists and army men, including Mills, who poses as a philanthropist while secretly tampering with dinosaur genetics for profit, with the twist coming off as extremely obvious.  

 

Given the material they are working with, the cast at least put in a great deal of commendable effort. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard comfortably return to their roles of Owen and Claire with panache, but their chemistry comes off as somewhat thin.  Rafe Spall, on the other hand, portrays his character like the weaselly, mustache-twirling baddie Mills is depicted as, with mostly mixed results.  Ted Levine relishes his role as a sadistic military commando that feels nothing but complete disdain and contempt for the fearsome creatures.  Danielle Pineda’s Rodriguez at least proves more tolerable than Justice Smith’s irritating Webb.  Only James Cromwell, Geraldine Chaplin, and newcomer Isabella Sermon really hold the movie together in their supporting parts, Cromwell as Lockwood, Sermon as Maisie, and Chaplin as Iris, the caretaker of the estate.  Although the digital dinosaurs themselves are nicely detailed, they pale in comparison to the blend of practical and digital effects utilized in the original “Jurassic Park.”  Strip away the little glimpses of John Williams’ memorable themes, and all you are left with in Michael Giacchino’s score is just more generic action music.

 

Fallen is certainly the word to describe “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” as it proves how the “Jurassic Park” franchise has actually de-evolved from its beginnings as a parable on chaos theory and man desiring control over nature into a series of high-budget B-movies that emphasize style over substance.    

 

** “Ya-stars”

 

(Originally written and published on June 28, 2018)

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