Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom delivers all you’ve come to expect from the blockbuster series, and more, with director J.A. Bayona’s imprint all over this sequel.
Following the events of 2015’s Jurassic World, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), along with their young cohorts Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), are sent back to the park by former owner Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) and his estate overseer Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), to save the dinosaur species from a second extinction, due to an impending volcanic eruption. It’s there when Owen and Claire realise that there may be a more sinister ploy behind saving these ancient creatures.
It’s a plot that typically, fits well within the Jurassic series of films, one that borrows plot points and themes from the series’ original sequel, 1997’s The Lost World. Despite that, Fallen Kingdom does stand alone quite well, making for an entertaining big-screen action blockbuster. The film’s plot structure changes dramatically between its acts, which works well as we’re essentially watching three dynamically different films. Its first act is set on the Jurassic World island and follows the protagonists as they try to save their dinosaurs under the threat of an exploding volcano (which features some exhilarating action) while learning the truths of their mission to set up the next act. The second act focuses on the shady characters involved behind the scenes of the rescue and their ulterior motives, as the film’s heroes begin to get placed in perilous danger. The third act, and the film’s climax venture into horror territory, which is something of a hallmark attribute for director J.A. Bayona, as the action becomes more confined and terrifying, and more secrets and implications of past actions are revealed.
The first and third acts are exciting, however, the film suffers in its middle act as we get to learn more about its villain and the colourful company of characters he deals with. The issue extends further with the writing of the characters on a larger scale in the film, as most are devoid of any depth and generally feel like stereotypical caricatures. For instance, Rafe Spall’s Eli Mills and Toby Jones’ Mr. Eversol, as the film’s key human antagonists, come across so diabolical to the point of being cheesy. Likewise, the film’s antagonists Owen and Claire are as clichéd as it gets, and little has been done to expand on their characters following their introduction in the first film. The funny thing is, as paper-thin as all the characters are in this film, they’re still endearing enough to make you want to become invested in them – a lot of which can only be boiled down to some excellent casting.
Fallen Kingdom promised more dinosaurs than ever before leading up to its release and it has delivered on that promise. We get to see more new dino species in this film, along with plenty of action featuring the giant, primordial animals. VFX wizards Industrial Light & Magic and the other dozen or so special effects companies have outdone themselves here, with the dinosaurs, and associated visual effects all looking amazing. It’s obvious that no expense was spared in the creature effects department, with plenty of practical and computer-generated effects all gelling well together to make for what one would consider, an authentic experience once you suspend your disbelief.
Continuing on from the themes set up in past Jurassic films, genetic tinkering once again plays a huge role. We’re introduced to what appears to the most vicious, lethal dinosaur hybrid yet, with implications that reach out far beyond designing these creatures for amusement purposes. It’s this theme surrounding genetic cloning and tampering that makes for some thought-provoking moments in the film. The ethical and moral aspects of such technologies are touched upon, making you wonder how far from reality the film actually is, and whether or not such advancements in gene tech will become a reality, and to what end we can, and should use them. Such themes in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom give the film some much-needed depth, to counterbalance the poorer aspects like its cartoonish characters and average writing.
Fallen Kingdom is a great follow-up to the first Jurassic World film and makes for a highly entertaining cinematic experience. Its weaker elements are overshadowed by its overall spectacle, in a good way, and J.A. Bayona’s specific touch adds a favourable extra layer to an otherwise formulaic popcorn film. Despite its flaws, the film keeps viewers engaged all throughout, leaving us with an ending that should have audiences yearning for more.
Sam Neill was asked if he would return to the series as Dr. Alan Grant and responded, “You never say never, but I think it’s moved on. It’s different times.”