Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Director: J.A. Bayona
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall
Synopsis: 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.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril)
Release Date: June 22, 2018
Its been 25 years since Steven Spielberg unleashed beauty and terror in the form of Jurassic Park, a sci-fi blockbuster that followed in the footsteps of his career-defining Jaws (1975) while also pioneering techniques in visual effects that captivates audiences to this day.
While the three sequels to Spielberg's first film have all been commercially successful, they have lacked the original's excitement, thought-provoking philosophy, and even terror to a certain extent. While 2015's Jurassic World undeniably rejuvenated interest in the franchise after a 14 year gap with its mammoth box office run (currently the fifth highest grossing film of all time with $1.6 billion worldwide), the film still failed to deliver any fresh material, and even the visual effects were suspect at times due to the over-reliance of CGI and the under-utilization of physical animatronic figures.
In the latest installment, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a volcano's imminent eruption on Isla Nublar threatens the dinosaurs' existence on our planet, and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) organizes a rescue mission to save the dinosaurs from permanent destruction.
The fundamental question Fallen Kingdom wants us to ask ourselves is if these animals (which we created) should be given the chance to live or if they should be left to die by nature's order. The film desperately wants us to scratch our heads trying to decide on this predicament when in reality the choice is painfully clear and uncomplicated--they should be left alone and let nature take its natural course. In The Lost World (1997), John Hammond himself states that these animals should be left in isolation, free from human interaction. Yet time and time again, we are presented with characters that directly go against those wishes and then we as viewers are expected to act surprised or sympathetic towards them when events go terribly awry. In Fallen Kingdom, characters not only make terrible decisions, they contradict their own desires in a painfully unnatural way. For example, in the film Claire only wants to rescue the dinosaurs to place them on a separate island, permanently isolated from human interaction, yet later she states she wants to save them "for our children", which suggests she still wants interaction with the animals in some capacity, which contradicts her previous thinking. And sadly, this is just one of many character moments in the film that make no sense and as a result disconnects viewers from the story.
Not only does Fallen Kingdom disregard Hammond's wishes in The Lost World, it disregard's The Lost World altogether on both a story and character level. The Lost World already addressed the debate of the dinosaurs' right to existence, and it already attempted to take the dinosaurs off Isla Sorna (inGen's "Site B"), with disastrous results. Nevertheless, Fallen Kingdom seems perfectly content in recycling previous material and providing nothing surprising or engaging for audiences, cementing its existence as a cash grab instead of an artistic endeavor. As a whole, the writing for Fallen Kingdom is the absolute lowest for the franchise, as it's filled with blandly predictable plot points and consistently illogical character moments. Worst of all, a twist near the end of the film involving one of the characters feels completely shoehorned in and unnecessary, even though the writers desperately try to motivate it to ill effect.
Another frustrating plot element that has been present in both Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom is the unveiling of a new "hybrid" dinosaur that crosses multiple species. Dinosaurs are exciting enough in their own right, and our fascination with them comes from knowing these creatures once existed on our planet, walking where we walk today. When multiple species are crossed to form a "new" dinosaur, however, a certain disconnect occurs because viewers know this animal probably didn't exist--at least nothing quite like it. Thus, it tends to feel less real and exciting than an actual dinosaur with fossilized remains. That said, the "Indoraptor" in Fallen Kingdom is an improvement over the "Indominous Rex" from Jurassic World in that it's essentially an enhanced velociraptor, arguably Jurassic Park's most lethal predator due to its smaller size and heightened intelligence from the T-Rex. The Indoraptor stalks the characters in this film in some genuinely suspenseful scenes, even though its movements overstep believability at times.
Despite it's poor writing, Fallen Kingdom does excel past its predecessor visually, as its satisfyingly clear that more animatronics were used for close-ups this time around. The film also takes its time to deliver the impending horror sequences, and the violence is genuinely shocking when it first hits, making for sequences that hearken closer to Spielberg's vision than previous Jurassic Park entries.
Despite visual improvement and some better-crafted horror sequences, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the messiest, laziest entry in the Jurassic Park franchise. From its recycled plot points to its illogical character motivations to its shameless, blatant disregard to The Lost World, the film is almost as much of a wreck as the park on Isla Nublar. Ironically, the one character with sane advice in the film, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) gets a mere minute of screen time, and his words of creating things because one can instead of one should apply more and more to this franchise that perhaps, like its dinosaurs, should be left alone.
Written by Anthony Watkins, July 9, 2018