Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom brings your favorite dinosaurs back along with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard for another rousing adventure. However, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is also a morality tale based on a broken record of heritage and legacy.
The insatiable need to world build in Hollywood these days floors me. Audiences want something tangible to hold on to throughout each adventure; some sort of thread to carry on a legacy of ideas. In the past, we would carry them to their logical conclusion. Today, they just get carried away.
I was going to start out this review by sounding like a broken record, because that’s what J. A. Bayona’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom feels like. Like I said, it’s curious, this need to build a world instead of focusing on one tale; to add layer on layer to the reborn cretaceous period that famed author Michael Crichton created many years ago.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes place three years after Jurassic World. We catch up with the venerable ‘Jurassic Park’ veteran Dr. Ian Malcom as congress determines, in its infinite wisdom, whether to save the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar from a volcano or to let them go extinct, again. Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) has a plan to save the dinosaurs and isolate them. To accomplish this, he seeks the help of Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).
I likened Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom to a colleague much like making a smoothie. Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World) and Derek Connolly (Kong: Skull Island, Jurassic World) took the best parts of what came before, put it all into a blender on frappe. They blended it a little too smooth and they poured the contents out on to the studio floor and whatever made it through the sewer drain is what we got on the screen. If I’m being harsh it’s because the story relies far too much on heritage and legacy to tell a repetitive story without expanding the original ideas.
And that’s a huge problem, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.
It’s not all as bad as the above description sounded. The dinosaurs looked amazing and the action in the first half of the film is solid; it’s a hallmark of the series to have great, dramatic action scenes. It managed to strike a moral balance, which surprised me. Chris Pratt reminds us once again why he plays Star Lord or why he should be playing Indiana Jones (there I go again, sounding like a broken record). There was less of his trademark humor here, which I did not miss. He’s picked up a few action beats from his turns as Star Lord, which helped him. If anything, the character was much more daring and more reserved.
Ms. Howard’s character came a full 90 degrees from Jurassic World. There she was extremely icy, detached. Here, she’s frosty, but warming up. It’s not the fault of her acting, but the way the character was written. The challenge with this is that the character vacillates far more than they should. And, I get the conundrum she’s faced with. The spectrum she traverses in a two-hour time span is simply not possible.
The supporting cast is less focused on humor than they were in Jurassic World. Perhaps that’s the fear-threat reaction at work. But, J. A. Bayona did manage to find his own beat, something I noticed with A Monster Calls (which I need to sorely revisit). That beat creates several memorable, individual sequences, which are threaded together by a series of actions or characters.
The problem that I eluded to earlier is that the story constantly stops and starts. The stops are as if we’re going off the edge of a cliff, and the starts are so full of energy, they feel like they’re going off the rails. There is no inherent connectedness to apply the breaks or to ease into the gas pedal. “Must go faster” came to mind several times throughout the film and not necessarily in a good way.
I am saving an aspect of the film for the post-opening weekend, which at this point is tracking between $130 – $140m. It has been a juggernaut in foreign markets over the past few weeks.
At the end of the day, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom manages to find its own beat. J. A. Bayona certainly melds his style of storybook-fantasy with the creatures of yore, something that I don’t think Trevorrow was able to find. I found more to appreciate in the story here, even if it is an unholy mashup of what has come before it.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is summer popcorn fare at its finest and it’s going to eat audiences up.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA.