I’m going to start this review by simply saying, if you ever expect to see a sequel to Jurassic Park that captures its brilliance and doesn’t feel silly at times. I’d suggest not holding your breath. As I sit here writing this review I have a Dr. Ian Malcolm Funko Pop with an injured leg and is laying on his side like a French Girl, staring at me. (For you Funko Pop collectors, this is a Target exclusive, so go out and hunt this perfect Pop down).
I also have the score from the original film ominously playing out compositions that at one time scared the ever loving crap out of me as a 6 year old. You could read these last two sentences and think I may be one of those Jurassic Park fans that holds onto and believes that every sequel after should be a work of art. But that simply is not the case, I can truly say with the Jurassic World section of this series I have enjoyed and had a great time at both films, Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Let’s also be real with ourselves since the original every film has been riddled with many WTF moments, from fighting raptors with gymnastics, to a dinosaur swallowing a satellite phone and becoming a pre-historic speaker, to a female protagonist running from dinosaurs in heels, to finally John Hammond having built his billion dollar park/investment on an active Volcano. All these subsequent sequels have been a little far fetched but in the end what made them exciting were the dinosaurs. In the case of Fallen Kingdom, this is what truly saves the ridiculous story of Fallen Kingdom and makes it a super entertaining summer blockbuster.
Coming off of what was my favorite film of 2016 (A Monster Calls) J.A. Bayona takes a story that is completely insane and unbelievable and turns Fallen Kingdom, into a semi believable, emotional and fantastic journey. Bayona was able to films scenes that had me truly emotional for the situation these dinosaurs were in, to being completely terrified of them. This was something that worked so well with the original, in the midst of all the chaos of the dinosaurs running around the park, there were beautiful quiet scenes with these dinosaurs. It was something that made you more emotionally connected to the dinosaurs as a whole. Through his directing he was able to capture a true sense of dread with the carnivores in this movie and not have to resort to cheap scares, something that has only been executed well a few times since the original. His ability to be able to land completely different emotional tones from scene to scene was something that really impressed me, making me excited to what his next project will be. Also his ability to be able to mix a lot of Practical effects and CGI was truly amazing, and was something that really made the film for me.
Taking place a few years after Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom opens with one of the best sequences the film series has seen, a truly terrifying scene of humans running away from dinosaur with a terrifying conclusion reminiscent of the opening to Jurassic Park. Much like the original’s opening, this scene sets the tone for what to come in the rest of the movie and although some of it is silly, there are some truly scary moments in this film.
Now lets get to story, if you’ve seen any of the trailers you have seen that the island has a volcano on it and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) get caught up in it somehow and go back to the island. I do have to say, these plot points are incredibly silly and unrealistic, but the trailer made these plot points look way worse than they actually ended up being in the movie. Not to say they still aren’t ridiculous, but there is parts of me that does believe if I was one of these characters I would follow my heart instead of my brain and end up on that island trying to save Blue. Once on the island we are shown some truly sad scenes, to the level that we haven’t really been shown in previous films before. A lot of helpless dinosaurs die. It is in this helplessness that really hits you hard, these are animals that were extinct, not asked to be born and thrown into an amusement park that ended up being an active volcano. Okay, after writing that sentence I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but it truly is sad and makes for some great scenes for the movie and emotionally sets up where I have a feeling future movies may be going.
Claire and Owen also aren’t alone on this seemingly stupid suicide mission, they are kept company by the seemingly pointless side characters Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin (Justice Smith). I didn’t hate their characters but I also didn’t see a huge point in having them tag along on the adventure, they did break up Claire and Owen’s sometimes annoying relationship which was a positive note of their characters. Other characters added to the Jurassic Chaos are Benjamin Lockwood(James Cromwell) and Gunnar Eversol(Toby Jones) as a whole these were two characters that were very important to this film as a whole, but will surely be forgotten looking at the entire series. Most of James Cromwell’s story revolves around him being business partners with John Hammond and his relationship with his granddaughter Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). This for me was a welcome plot point in the movie, ending in a place I really had not seen coming or even considered.
In terms of bad eggs, one being mentioned above, Gunnar Eversol, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) and Ken Wheatley(Ted Levine) were pieces of great villians, but I think would have been better suited as one character. Ken Wheatley specifically reminded me more of an Indiana Jones side villain than anything we would see in a Jurassic Park movie.
Although I did expect more Jurassic Park character surprises in this one, we do get back Dr. Ian Malcolm. His role in this movie is extremely minimal but also welcome. He is very much the moral compass in this and the ominous voice of what surely these movies are moving towards. But if you are expecting him to be involved in a big way, you will be disappointed, most of what has been shown in the trailers is what you will get from him in this movie. Another character that has become the bridge from the first trilogy to Jurassic World is Dr. Henry Wu, although being in this movie a fairly good amount he has almost the same exact role in Jurassic World, but this time he has helped create the Indoraptor. Which ends up being the scariest creation this series has ever seen, so for that I thank Dr. Henry Wu for his stupid advancements in Dino-Science.
To wrap this up, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a truly exciting and fun installment to this much beloved series. Like all the movies following Jurassic Park, it has its unbelievable moments and over the top blockbuster scenes, but is a fun ride riddled with dinosaurs. If you are looking for a well thought out dinosaur movie you are most likely never going to see that again. Instead come escape in the Jurassic World era of dinosaur movies and have a hell of a lot of fun.
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