My favourite film of all time is Jurassic Park; so, when a sequel is announced, of course I’ll be going to see it. To re-cap, Jurassic Park does have issues but what’s good is much too good, better than any other film in my opinion. The Lost World: Jurassic Park on the other hand was a disappointing film – it was dull, messy and was clearly made by a director whose heart wasn’t in it – but that director was Steven Spielberg, and so we still got some clever filmmaking and fun action scenes.
Jurassic Park III is a bit of dumb fun, with emphasis on dumb – it’s short and efficient in its thrills, so it’s not a bad time in my book. Jurassic World was a nice revitalisation for the series, taking nostalgia and new things in a good mix and making one of the most entertaining film’s I’ve seen in a long time – even if it lacks the wonder and awe of the films before it. Now we get the ambitious looking Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. We have high promises; how does it deliver?
The volcanic island that homes the dinosaurs is about to blow up. Claire, from the last film, is part of a group attempting to safe them, and when a business man offers his help to save the dinosaurs, it’s an offer too good to pass on. Owen, also from the last one, gets involved to help save Blue, the last surviving raptor, who he still has a bond with. Thing’s go wrong almost immediately, and when the dinosaurs are taken from the island, it’s clear that the business man has a far more sinister agenda for the creatures than what first appears. If you want to know more, watch the trailers as hey spoil way too much of the film for my liking.
I do have issues with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. There is the issue that has plagued all the other sequels in this series – the script. I don’t know what it is, but Jurassic Park scripts, outside of the first one, always have issues. But I’ll give it credit, this is the strongest script of the sequels. Despite starting off as a fun adventure and disaster film and ending as a Gothic horror sci-fi film, the pace and tone are never unbalanced and it all flows together very well. The issue is with character and some moments of dialogue. While Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire and two of the newer characters – a sharp-tongued dinosaur vet and a little girl respectively – no one else stands out. Chris Pratt and Ted Levine are great to watch in all their scenes, but that has nothing to do with character – it’s because Pratt is a funny and charming actor and Levine has always been a darkly amusing presence. The villains in particular come off as cartoons and are very hard to take seriously.
Despite this, director J. A. Bayona works wonders with it, shooting the most visually amazing film in the series since the original. The cinematography alone is worth praising, with no shot wasted, all shots looking spectacular and some of them are exceptionally creative. What also helps is the film featuring the best effects of the series. Saying that CGI is amazing feels redundant as it’s almost constantly great these days, only standing out when it fails – but the CGI was amazing here. It was also in surprisingly short supply, with animatronics and practical effects taking up a good majority of the dinosaur scenes. The two effects blend so well together, that at times I couldn’t tell the difference between them.
There’s no denying that the first half of this film, involving the volcanic explosion and the reveal of something sinister, is the better half of the film. That’s where most of the dinosaur action is too – which is some of the most spectacular of the whole series. The opening scene and the eruption being the stand out moments. Even in the latter half of the film we get an excellent chase and dino-battle – there’s even a great moment involving a head-butting dinosaur (I think it’s called a stygimoloch for those dinosaur fans out there). It’s constantly amazing and fun – whenever a dinosaur is on screen, I’m happy. The second half does slow down, and it starts getting a little bogged in science fiction and gets a little too silly in moments.
It’s moments of silliness and too many call backs to other films in the franchise that really shoots the film in the foot. Some call backs – like a tear-jerking moment involving a brachiosaurus and the introduction of the t-rex looming over the trees – were nice touches, but then we get a re-enactment of the t-rexes final roar from the first one and a painfully obvious call-back to the raptors in the kitchen, that went a little too far. We also get things like a smiling dinosaur and a velociraptor who could apparently read that a tank was flammable. We also have Rafe Spall and Toby Jones giving us some bad American accents and James Cromwell giving us a bad British accent, which was a little bizarre. Unfortunately, a major issue too is that despite blowing up the island, changing the setting and in some ways completely changing the path of the series, we are still stuck with the formula of dinosaurs escaping cages and eating people. I wouldn’t have minded too much if we weren’t promised something a little different this time around.
Despite that though, this is the first time a Jurassic Park sequel has had me calling it great. I loved this film overall, despite these issues. Jurassic World was one of the most entertaining films this decade for me. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the most entertaining film this decade to me. It also takes its time in moments – we don’t get much wonderment again, mores the pity, but we do get something else. We get upset. This is at times a dark film, with some unflinching depictions of animal cruelty. As cartoony as the villains are, they did have me feeling rage at times. That’s an emotion I’ve never felt from a Jurassic Park film before. They’re still hard to take seriously, but they do make the heroes easier to root for. Great performances and simple but effective themes are a good help too.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a flawed yet great film to me. It’s more dinosaur fun, with something a little more thrown in for it. We are still worlds away from the original master-piece and it’s very clear that we will not hit any closer to that mark. There is a tease for another film, which I honestly hope is the last one now, as much as I’ve liked these last two films. I do know that I like this film more than most people will, I know many already who do prefer Jurassic World to this one, but still, they all came out having enjoyed it. If you are hoping for a revitalisation of the series, then you will be disappointed. But if you want a fun and exceptionally well directed blockbuster, then you couldn’t ask for more.
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