J.A. Bayona picks up where Colin Trevorrow left off in the sequel to 2015 hit, Jurassic World…
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Ted Levine, Toby Jones, James Cromwell, Jeff Goldblum
Directed by: J.A. Bayona / Written by: Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly / 128 minutes
What’s it about?
Owen Grady and Claire Dearing join an expedition to rescue the dinosaur residents of Isla Nublar when the island’s volcano threatens its destruction…
Life once again finds a way in the sequel to Colin Trevorrow’s smash relaunch of the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World. With J.A. Bayona – director of The Impossible and A Monster Calls – at the helm this time out, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t nearly as good as the first Jurassic World (which in all fairness did set the bar exceptionally high) although it still delivers plenty of gripping dino-fuelled action and mayhem to keep the majority entertained.
It’s been three years since the disaster that befell Jurassic World and the park’s genetically engineered dinosaurs have been left to roam free and live out their own existence without any interference from humanity. This of course all changes once Isla Nublar’s once inactive volcano begins to erupt, threatening to destroy the island and leading to a rescue mission of sorts as philanthropist Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), an old colleague of John Hammond, devises a plan to capture as many species as possible and transport them to a new home. As is always the case though, there are sinister forces that have other plans for the creatures. The scenario is perhaps a little familiar and does lead to some predictable plot beats but there are still a few surprises thrown into the mix that keeps it all from becoming too stale.
Leading the cast once more is Chris Pratt’s dino-wrangler (more accurately, animal behaviourist) Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard as Jurassic World’s former park manager, Claire Dearing. Both are as solid as they were previously and continue to have great chemistry and are joined by Daniella Pineda as dino-veterinarian Zia and comical technology whiz Franklin, played by Justice Smith. Rounding out the supporting cast is Isabella Sermon as Lockwood’s granddaughter, Maisie and a trio of slightly cartoonish villains played by Rafe Spall, Toby Jones and Ken Wheatley.
James Cromwell is a tad underutilised as Lockwood but certainly serves a purpose and a small cameo from Jeff Goldblum is welcome yet seems a missed opportunity to include Dr. Ian Malcolm in a more active and more significant capacity (he was the best thing about Independence Day: Resurgence after all) – maybe in the already announced third instalment then?
However, it’s arguably one of the film’s non-human characters that steals the show – the velociraptor called ‘Blue’ who makes a heroic return and who audiences had already become attached to in the previous film. The character of Blue is deepened further with an exploration of the bond between the raptor and Owen that’s actually quite believable and endearing.
One aspect of Fallen Kingdom’s narrative that works particularly well is that it treats it’s dinosaurs as living, breathing animals and not just bloodthirsty monsters, granted there is an element of that and how else could the threat of the ‘Indoraptor’ – the film’s central ‘nasty’ created using the DNA of Jurassic World’s Indominous Rex – be made effective, but it’s also refreshing that we end up rooting for ‘characters’ such as Blue and Tyrannosaur ‘Rexy’ (Jurassic Park’s original T.Rex who was also a triumphant addition to Jurassic World) as much as main stars Pratt and Dallas Howard and actually caring about the plight of these creatures who are being callously exploited in the pursuit of wealth.
Fallen Kingdom boasts some exciting action (although surprisingly, far less time is actually spent on Isla Nublar than the trailers might suggest) and J.A. Bayona handles it all with skill and whilst there’s naturally a lot of CGI on display there’s still a decent amount of practical effects being utilised. There are numerous laughs (some moments funnier than others) and a great deal of fun to be had but Fallen Kingdom is a touch darker than the first Jurassic World and the terror has been pushed up a notch, delivering some genuine heart-pounding scares and sweaty-palm tension – the film’s atmospheric opening sequences (which easily ranks as one of the franchise’s finest moments) and pulse-pounding final act being the biggest highlights.
When it comes down to it Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t a sequel that exceeds the greatness of what’s come before, but it’s definitely more a case of The Lost World than Jurassic Park III and neatly sets the scene for part three.
The bottom line: Not quite as successful as Colin Trevorrow’s beast, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is still an entertaining addition to the Jurassic Park saga that has some great moments despite an overall lack of originality.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is in U.K. cinemas now and opens in the U.S. and worldwide from 22nd June.