Jurassic Park is part of the new wave of reinvigorated franchises from a different era, along with films such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Terminator, Alien, and many others. Though highly treasured and seen as an amazing film because of the never before seen Computer Generated Imagery from the first Jurassic Park, a sequel 25 years later will have to try and achieve and do something different for it to be accepted by modern standards, where CGI is run of the mill in almost every movie the average movie goer sees. Enter the bold storytelling of The Last Jedi, the expanded mythos and themes that Prometheus brought to the Alien franchise, and brash horror from Alien Covenant.
So what does Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom bring (or not bring) to the table to expand on the franchise and give reason for the story of the park to continue? The answer would be, a lot. The film does everything in it’s power to subvert the scenario of previous films, as well as bring different questions of morality of tampering with such technology that originally brought the Dinosaurs back to life. While these new ideas and themes it brings to the table are certainly interesting, the execution is not the best.
Three years after the events of the first Jurassic World, Isla Nublar has been abandoned and the volcano on the island active. With only a matter of time before the Volcano erupts and destroys life on the island and Government Intervention declined, a third party, the Lockwood estate, convinces Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to return to the island to help rescue a select 11 species, including the sole surviving Velociraptor, Blue, setting the stage for the film.
While the films opening act may take place on the island, the majority of the film takes place on the Lockwood estate. The estate is a large mansion owned by Sir Benjamin Lockwood, partner to the now famous John Hammond, who had helped engineer the clone technology with Hammond. Now in old age, Lockwood has his estate run by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), as well as taking care of his granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon).
The large estate makes a great backdrop for the film, a refreshing new perspective compared to the usual island in the previous 4 films. The setting also does and amazing job of providing a stark contrast to the Dinosaurs themselves, and speaks a great deal of the themes addressed in the film. Speaking of which, the story of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom leaves something to be desired. While not an entire repeat of the first film, Fallen Kingdom repeats the trop of the genetically modified Dinosaur. providing something for our Protagonists to face off against in the large, creepy mansion.
The roots of the original Jurassic Park are also explored through Lockwood and his granddaughter Maisie, giving the audience interesting backstories and making those behind the dream of a Jurassic Park a little more human. Along with this is the morality and consequences of genetic engineering with questions being raised, such as if something has the right to still live and exist even though it was artificially created by man. While these heavy themes in the film are introduced and are prevalent at some key points in the film, they are not fully addressed and are not used to their full potential. squandering Fallen Kingdom’s potential to be more than a Jurassic World sequel.
The humor coming from the supporting cast as well as even the main cast can also seem out of place as well as inconsistent with the tone of the film at times, as well as even a bit over the top, in terms of how they fit in the story and how they are there for the sake of moving the plot forward, with no real development going into the supporting cast, save for the little girl, Maisie. Other players join late into the story, such as Toby Jones character, who serve no real purpose and re taken care of rather quickly. Leads Claire and Owen get some development on their part, but are mostly there to serve the story and the Dinosaurs. Unfortunately, not much is there to be said about them.
Although not used to it’s full potential, the themes and story of Fallen Kingdom are handled excellently by Director J.A. Bayona, who clearly did the most with what he was given with, aspiring to make Fallen Kingdom more than a sequel in an old franchise, and to breathe new life into the film series. From the opening scene to the final act and shots it’s clear Bayona strived for a different tone with this film, and the horror aspects of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are some of it’s best parts. From a Dinosaur chase in a narrow hallway to the darkened mansion creeping with an Indoraptor, the backdrop combined with the tension make for some beautifully shot horror, directed extremely well by Bayona, who brings a real heart to the film that has not been seen in the franchise for some time. Speaking of shot composition, Fallen Kingdom has some of the best of the Jurassic Park films.
The Cinematography by Òscar Faura on the film is phenomenal, as the lighting and scale of some of the shots make for some pretty scary moments in the film. The camera follows the action well, and there is hardly ever a dull moment on screen when Dinosaurs are involved. Whether up close or scaled back, the shots of the Dinosaurs make for the most beautiful moments of the film. The visual and practical effects done for the Dinosaurs were amazing as well, managing to make the Dinosaurs look, sound, and feel more realistic and all the more terrifying. From a technical standpoint, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hardly ever falters.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom does its best to give us a reason to care about yet another film in a 25 year old franchise. Bringing in new bold ideas, expanding on the original mythos and reminding us of the magic we felt from it’s original conception, on paper it sounds like everything a sequel should be; unfortunately, it’s not realized to it’s full potential. While having some fresh new elements and delivering on the intense and fun action you expect as well as somewhat of a horror vibe, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fails to fully use any of the strong themes it introduces. Life still finds a way, though. – Ernesto Valenzuela
Grade – 7.5/10
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Hits Theaters June 23rd, 2018
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.