#REVIEW: “JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Time has passed since the disaster at Jurassic World, and the world’s eyes are turned towards a volcano threatening the surviving dinosaurs on Isla Nublar. But should these dinosaurs be saved? Returning heroes Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) believe they should, but others who want to help may only be doing so for their own financial gain.
Twenty-five years after Steven Spielberg first unleashed Jurassic Park on audiences, Director J.A. Bayona has created the first truly worthy Sequel in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. While it still relies on nostalgia and recreation like Jurassic World before it, Bayona’s Sequel is very much interested in development and evolution. The characters are still making huge mistakes but their ideologies and morals are more complex than ever. The real world satire is amplified considerably here, as are the militaristic elements that were merely touched on in Jurassic World. Jeff Goldblum’s haunting monologue from all the trailers is not just a highlight, but Fallen Kingdom’s telling thesis statement. It wants to be about more than just revisiting a deadly island, and that alone makes the film better than what’s come before it.
While Fallen Kingdom improves on many problems from the previous Sequels, the most satisfying improvement is the increased use of animatronic dinosaurs. Unlike those Films, many of the dinosaurs here are real and not just digital creations. They move physically and interact with the characters, and you can tell the difference when they touch. It feels silly to say, but after so much overdone CGI, it feels genuinely-refreshing to feel the awe and wonder of seeing real dinosaurs again. Not since Jurassic Park have the dinosaurs looked and felt so fearsome and authentic. So kudos to Bayona and his team for not digitally manipulating everything they possibly can (and for making the new genetically spliced dino baddie visible, instead of continually covered by something). Also refreshing – actual thrills and suspense. While the Sequels have had their share of spectacular action sequences, none have felt nearly as terrifying or as effective as the ones put together here. One particularly claustrophobic scene is edited to look like one take – and it may be the most frightening scene in the entire Series.
But Fallen Kingdom is far from perfect. Where it should feel mostly self-contained, it instead feels like a glorified ellipsis. Jurassic World was not shy about setting up future franchise endeavours, but it only did so in a few scenes. In this film, it feels like literally every step made is in service of Jurassic World 3 and beyond. It sets up incredible opportunities and introduces a plethora of new characters (and a few new dinos), but then does next to nothing with them. There is a downright shocking twist that hits like a stack of bricks – but after the characters let this detail sink in for all of ten seconds, they proceed to do absolutely nothing with it. They just throw this information away, much like many other distinctive developments. Bayona focusing on moral quandaries is great and all, but not when it comes at the expense of aggressive and forced franchise building.
Character development is minimal as expected, as is the Franchise’s trademark atrocious dialogue. But Pratt and Howard do a great job jumping back into their roles anyway and continue to have a delightful chemistry. Of the vast amount of newcomers, the only Cast members who make any sort of impact are the sleazy Ted Levine and the young Isabella Sermon as the requisite child in danger. Everyone else plays their parts well, yet Fallen Kingdom has a bad habit of sidelining them for large swaths of time – never making it immediately clear where they are or how they are factoring into the chaos happening on-screen. In the case of at least one supporting character, they disappear off screen and their fate is never clarified at all.
There is a lot to like about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and just as much not to like. When it works, Bayona’s Folm soars as the best Sequel in the entire Jurassic Franchise. But these moments of greatness are squandered by the Film’s incessant need to develop ideas and then not address any of them. Much like Avengers: Infinity War from earlier this summer, this is realistically only half of a Film. Let’s just hope some of the bold and interesting moves it sets up actually amount to something.
Universal Pictures Canada release JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM on Friday, June 22, 2018.