‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Review
Jurassic World was one of the most financially successful films of 2015. It had been over 20 years since audiences had seen the original film, so much of Jurassic World’s success came from pulling on people’s nostalgia. Though tons of people had issues with the overall film, many fans were willing to forgive these flaws since Jurassic World was able to bring them back to their childhood. As a sequel, Fallen Kingdom doesn’t have the luxury of simply relying on nostalgia, so does the overall film holdup?
Early reviews for Fallen Kingdom were indicating that audiences were praising J.A. Bayona’s darker direction for the franchise, so things were looking positive for new Jurassic film. The latest critic reviews haven’t been as kind however, as the RottenTomatoes score currently shifts back and forth between a fresh and a rotten rating. Now others may feel differently, but it’s easy for me to understand where this negativity came from since Fallen Kingdom is probably my least favorite entry in the Jurassic franchise.
Three years have passed since the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, and the entire island of Isla Nublar remains human-free. However, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing must return to the island to try and save the dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. While free roaming dinosaurs may be terrifying, Owen and Claire uncover an even more frightening conspiracy that threatens the safety of the entire planet.
I admit I do enjoy how Fallen Kingdom begins with an engaging philosophical debate. These creatures were manmade science experiments, so if mother nature intends to wipe them out, do they have a right to live? We know the genetic modifications of these creatures make them look and act differently to their original dinosaur counterparts, so do they even classify as real dinosaurs/animals? Why must public action be taken to conserve the livelihood of a privately funded investment? These are outstanding questions that harken back to the ethical discussions of the first Jurassic Park; “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” It’s just unfortunate that these questions are quickly whisked away to make room for a more contrived and silly plot.
J.A. Bayona may have directed Fallen Kingdom, but it is evidently clear that this is a Colin Trevorrow film. If you found the writing of Jurassic World to be a bit goofy, then you will also be disappointed with Fallen Kingdom’s script. The dialogue is awfully clunky, often cringe worthy, and very expositional. But even worse, the plot feels reminiscent to a childish Saturday morning cartoon. That may be fine for those wishing to see a mindless blockbuster film, but Jurassic Park was once a franchise that transcended normal Hollywood movies. But perhaps I’m expecting to much when half of the writing duo is responsible for 2016’s Monster Trucks.
I like Colin Trevorrow and Dereck Connolly, but I’m just not sure why they were left in charge of the Jurassic franchise. Jurassic World may have earned way more money than expected, but with the nostalgic tone it seemed to be going for, the film would’ve made heaps of cash regardless of whoever was directing it. I’m not even sure if general audiences know who Trevorrow is yet. He’s only ever directed two other smaller independent films before – one which was critically acclaimed and another which was critically panned. If audiences aren’t rushing out to see a Colin Trevorrow helmed film, then why is he returning with Connolly for another Jurassic movie? All I’m saying is, Fallen Kingdom is very clearly Jurassic World 2 and not Jurassic Park 5.
It’s unfortunate that Trevorrow and Connolly ended up overshadowing J.A. Bayona here. Bayona’s own style just feels absent since, once again, Fallen Kingdom feels like a movie that any director could have helmed without much difference. The action sequences are great, the practical effects are outstanding, the emotional beats are powerful, but everything else is lacking. The acting is bland (there is still very little chemistry between Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard), the new actors are forgettable, the villain is terribly cartoonish and stupid, and the new Sci-Fi direction that the film tries to take is baffling. But again, I believe this has more to do with Trevorrow’s own writing, and less because of Bayona’s directing.
To be fair, I do quite admire how Fallen Kingdom tries to tread new ground. For the first time in a long while, Fallen Kingdom takes the Jurassic franchise into unfamiliar territory. The Lost World and Jurassic Park III may be inconsequential sequels that have nothing to do with each other, but audiences will have to see Fallen Kingdom in order to understand what happens in any future installment. To a certain degree, I respect Fallen Kingdom for being unafraid to try new things. But with that being said, I still think the film tries to do too much. So much is going on in the plot that the first and second halves feel like entirely different movies.
Jurassic World was one of the most okay-est movies of 2015. I enjoyed it for what it was, even if it had some faults. Fallen Kingdom, however, I find to be incredibly frustrating. Jurassic Park may be a cautionary tale, but it is ultimately a story that is filled with magic, hope, optimism, wonder, and awe. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom really isn’t concerned with any of those things. I’m not sure if I ever felt any true sense of fun while watching this movie. I felt engaged or intrigued at times, but never like I was back in the Jurassic Park world. There are even some truly emotional scenes that contain some of the saddest moments in the entire Jurassic franchise, but that only made me more disappointed because I realized I felt bummed out more often than I felt like I was having fun. All of these aspects just really made me question whether or not I would ever be interested in watching Fallen Kingdom ever again. At this moment, I’m not sure if I want to.
For me personally, I feel as though Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom strips away what made Jurassic Park fun and magical in the first place (sometimes quite literally). It may try to fit inside the existing universe – even going so far as to lift the “these creatures require our absence” quote directly from The Lost World – but that only made me think about plot continuities involving Isla Sorna. So Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom may bring something new to the Jurassic Park franchise, but it came at what cost?
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will have it’s theatrical run in the U.S. on June 22, 2018.