Out tomorrow is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom the sequel to the commercially robust Jurassic World. Will lightning strike twice or is this just the same old story with a slightly different spin? I say this because much of the footage shown at this point is reminiscent of the first Jurassic World.
When the film opens up a group of individuals are on Isla Nublar searching for something. The group quickly find what they are looking for, the remains of the Indominus rex. Once they collect it their excursion goes from bad to worse until they barely escape the island. The film fast forwards to three years later and the audience learns that the volcano on Isla Nublar is now active and the dinosaurs are in trouble of once again going extinct.
This is where the audience meets Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) once again. She’s fighting a losing battle about whether or not these dinosaurs deserve to live. It is at this point she is approached by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) on behalf of Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). Lockwood helped John Hammond with the creation of the technology that lead to the birth of Jurassic Park. Feeling a sense of responsibility to the dinosaurs and to his deceased friend Lockwood hopes to save them from the devastation of the island and spirit them away to a place he dubs “Sanctuary”.
There’s one hitch in the plan, Blue the velociraptor needs to be rescued as she is a one of a kind. This is where Owen (Chris Pratt) returns as he is the only one who can track Blue and hopefully bring her back without incident.
This is the surface level plot of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Nothing too complicated just a boy and his raptor friend. As the characters weave through the 128-minute long story further complications are compounded on each other. These range from yet another hybrid dino to whether or not dinosaurs deserve to live after all they are all clones.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a gorgeous looking film. The cinematography is incredible in particular during the first third of the film. The landscape of Isla Nublar as it is being destroyed by the eruption of the volcano is stunning. Mix that with the dinosaurs and humans trying to escape it by any means necessary delivers some fantastic imagery. A particular highlight for me was during the first 10 minutes of the film. The way the scene is shot from its lighting to the score lends a horror element that I haven’t felt from this franchise in a long time when I first saw the T-rex rear her head.
Unfortunately Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom can’t rely on its imagery alone. Compelling characters are necessary for most films and sadly this is where the kingdom falls hard. None of the new characters are interesting save for young Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the granddaughter of Benjamin Lockwood. She’s smart, resourceful and has a decent chemistry with the older cast. The return of Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) though it is fleeting is brilliant and if the story had stuck to his ideas and philosophy the film would be far more engaging. It sets up a fascinating future for the franchise but I’m not reviewing a hypothetical film I’m reviewing a by the numbers disaster film.
Another problem with the film is that at the centre of this film is yet another hybrid dinosaur that is to be used for nefarious means. The Indoraptor as it is so affectionately called is a fascinating creature and is everything the Indomious rex should have been. There are genuine moments of terror, the design of the dinosaur is impressive and it has a real presence when it is introduced but it is all too familiar to the last film.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an infuriating hybrid of a film. J. A. Bayona the director tries to ask some deep meaningful questions about the human race and whether trying to best god will be our ruin. Unfortunately, most of these intriguing issues never take the stage over the bing, bang, wallop of CGI dinosaurs chasing some humans all over the place. With better care and a less lackadaisical approach to the screenplay Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom could have delivered something new instead we are treated to something all too familiar and at times boring.