Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Jeff Goldblum, BD Wong
You can officially stop wondering or hoping if the modern “Jurassic Park” franchise will ever re-capture what audiences felt in 1993. These desperate sequels will never have the effect on a current generation that Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster did on ours. That said, Colin Trevorrow’s 2015 “Jurassic World” came close. “Fallen Kingdom” unfortunately lives up to its title, making the same mistakes, the original disappointing sequel The Lost World incurred back in 1997. Finding reasons to keep returning to the dino island again and again are difficult, this fifth installment goes too far, once again, backing this story into a corner. J.A. Bayona steps in as director, using blueprints from his previous genre films “The Orphanage” (horror), “The Impossible” (disaster film) and “A Monster Calls” (fairy tale) as inspiration.
“Long dormant volcano (never mentioned in any other Jurassic film) on Isla Nublar now active,” the news reports. Racing to get abandon dinosaurs off the island is in full effect as former Jurassic World park operations manager Claire Dearing (Howard) is now a re-historic animal activist. She finds a path for rescue but can’t return to the devastated island without raptor trainer Owen Grady (Pratt). The two team up again, working for John Hammond’s original park partner (also conveniently never mentioned until now) Benjamin Lockwood (Cromwell) and his wealthy estate. The team want to save as many species as possible, however Blue, the last raptor, is top priority. Claire and Own find even more dangerous elements than an erupting volcano and wild carnivores when they return to the island.
Putting this series down before it becomes another franchise overstaying its creative welcome with pointless and unnecessary sequels, would be the humane thing to do.
What works in “Fallen Kingdom” is the thrill ride of dino’s and humans on the big screen together. Fans won’t mind that nearly all of the last act copy-cats so many original shots (the dumb waiter, the power coming back on, opening the door locks, etc). More deaths never shown on camera will spare younger children nightmares, yet “Fallen Kingdom” ultimately loses sight of what made Jurassic Park and Jurassic World good, hint, it was the park! Aside from Jeff Goldblum’s cameo, this film rarely takes the time to explore anything deeper than “should we save dinosaurs or not”. While the trailers for “Fallen Kingdom” turn out to be misleading once you see the whole film, the natural disaster aspects of the story feel rushed and underwhelming.
The most memorable scene in the film occurs with a brontosaur on a loading dock with lava quickly approaching. It’s the one moment in the movie where things seem reflective, emotional and find the slightest bit of semblance to the original. The scene I speak of is “Fallen Kingdom’s” downturn for the worst, and the second half of the movie falls into an isolated narrative trap. The villains are again discardable, and the dinosaurs are so smart they continue only eating bad guys. Dr. Wu (Wong), Jurassic World’s only character from the original, once again scurries about, taking his research and work from one location to another. Putting this series down before it becomes another franchise overstaying its creative welcome (i.e. “Transformers”, “Resident Evil”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, etc) with pointless and unnecessary sequels, would be the humane thing to do.
Fallen Kingdom makes same mistakes as The Lost World, losing sight of what ultimately makes these films work.