Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Movie Review

movie reviewSo far I’ve seen every Jurassic Park (JP) film in theaters. I have some very personal memories with the 1993 film. So, of course, I went and saw the latest release as well. After the first Jurassic World (2015) film my expectations weren’t too high. Jurassic World (JW) being a soft reboot of the series, they recycled pretty much all elements from the very first JP film. As if they worked with a checklist (again). I’m quite certain they did. Now with this second JW film I was interested if they would come up with something original, or if they used a checklist as well. It seems they did. Right at the start the trained movie fan eye can spot a couple of scenes that very obviously address the main critiques they got for the first JW film. And while the first JW film appeared to be rather consistent with its plot, this film feels as if it suffers schizophrenia. It really does not know what it wants to be. A straight JP film with the typical elements (like the first JW film) or something entirely different.

The film starts with an official hearing of experts regarding how to treat the dinosaurs that are still left on Isla Nublar. Of course the Jurassic World park went out of business after what happened in the first JW movie. Now the question is if we let the dinos live or if we ‘retire’ (to use a Blade Runner term) them. We see a glorious Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as Ian Malcolm. “Life will find a way”. And it certainly does in this film. Next we get to Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) who was one of the higher ups, managing the Jurassic World park when went down in the last film. After what happened to her you could argue that she’s seen and had enough of dinosaurs and now probably needs psychological help to find sleep at night again. But no, she wants to save the dinos that are left on the island. For that she leads an organisation pleading to politicians to keep the dinos alive. She loves the creatures that, multiple times, almost killed her. Which is the first, of a number, of highly unrealistic things in this film.

The situation on Isla Nublar is criticial. Suddenly there is a volcano (we previously never heard of I think?) that threatens the wildlife and the dinosaurs. So there needs to be a decision fast. What to do with the creatures living on the island? Rescue them or let them go extinct a second time? Claire gets contacted by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) who proposes to resettle the dinos onto another island. One that is perfectly shaped to keep the dinos in and the humans out. So Claire and two of her colleagues from that ‘save dinos organisation’ team up with a group of mercenaries and hunters to go the the island and rescue some of the creatures. But not without Claire contacting Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). Now Owen did get to the right conclusions, after what happened to them in the first JW movie. He’s seen enough of dinosaurs and wants his peace. He doesn’t care if they go down on that island or not. Only his connection and love (kinda?!) for Claire makes him join the trip. Then there’s Blue, one of the Velociraptors Owen trained in the first film. And Blue is also the creature our group of mercenaries is really after.

And here we are in full effect for the first half of the film. On the island. We get to see the park again, or what’s left of it after what happened last time. Constantly under pressure because of a volcano. This is the part that really feels like a Jurassic Park film. It’s the part I personally enjoyed the most. Some really nice landscape shots and the VFX are outstanding. Unfortunately the spectacle is slightly overshadowed by recycled plot elements of The Lost World (the second Jurassic Park film from 1997). And that goes through the whole film. The recycled parts are not as super obvious as in the first JW film but still very well recognizable. They tried their best to bring in variation/hide it. And in some parts they even succeed.

When the mercs got their dinos, as well as Blue, they immediately leave the island. Still leaving behind tons of creatures now doomed to die. Transitioning into the second half of the film. Which almost completely plays out in a big rich man’s mansion where the movie turns into a horror film. Again similar to the ending of The Lost World. Although they (like I mentioned earlier) tried to divorce it as much as possible from the crystal clear influence. And that is all I want to say about the story.

Throughout the film we see our characters thrown into different kinds of situations they have to deal with. It’s fun to watch them trying to solve these situations and most of the time the chemistry between the actors works as well. You could argue that Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt don’t have much chemistry going on or there is a coldness between them. But for some reason it works for me. The two characters they play had a failed relationship and they learned that it doesn’t work. Yet they feel drawn to each other. That reluctancy toward each other works since both characters kind of know that, if they come back together, it will probably end in tears and hurting them both once again. We also have Rafe Spall, James Cromwell, Toby Jones and Geraldine Chaplin in this film. Faces I always love to see appear in a movie. And they do a fine job. Even though Toby Jones is a little overacting at times here. Still liked what he added to the film.

Technically the film leaves a better impression than the first JW film. Camera, angles, composition all that works pretty much flawless in this film. We get some very nice shots and inspired camera movements throughout the film. The VFX are top notch and overall it’s a very pretty film to look at. No doubt. The director J.A. Bayona did the best he could. If only the script would have been better! Same goes for the score. What’s going on Hollywood?! Is Hans Zimmer the only one left who gets enough freedom to compose something memorable? The score in this film is so generic. First when the credits start to roll and the original Jurassic Park theme by John Williams plays… well… it shouldn’t have been at the end but at the very front of the film. It’s timeless and a masterpiece. John Williams is the man! Composer Michael Giacchino is not a bad guy for scores either – the contrary. Not sure what happened but for this film it was as unmemorable as it can be. A shame.

This film is incredibly stupid. All logic thrown out the window. Character decisions very hard to understand. Yet this film is entertaining. You could easily edit 10 minutes out of the last half hour though. That last half hour in general is so packed with stupid decisions that it almost hurts! Still… the film is weirdly fun. I always love to see Chris Pratt. His charisma just works for me. Bryce Dallas Howard is very easy on the eyes and gets some fun moments too. I wished we would have had more time on the island. I don’t really need to see the dinos outside their natural habitat. I want to be transported to a place I don’t see day in day out. But that’s me. Some people like the second half much more since we’ve seen the first half of the film, on the island, so many times now. Hard to argue with that.

Now with the obvious influences checked off the list, it will be interesting to see where they go next. There will be a third film. I have no doubt. I’ll probably see it. And if it’s just for Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt.


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on IMDb

Leave a Reply