The aftermath of the nightmare in Isla Nublar ain’t pretty, and the world over is fighting over the lives of human-made dinosaurs. Fate, however, brings Claire and Owen back to the dying, volatile island to save the dinosaurs from extinction, only to discover they’ve been set up and there are more sinister goings-on than they bargained.
A well-directed sequel and a blast on the big screen, but not much else. Watchable.
We’re almost midway through 2018, and the world’s already seen a Star Wars movie, an X-Men movie, two Marvel movies, yet another Insidious film, and that Cloverfield sequel nobody asked for, but exists anyway. To those who assumed that would be all, producer Steven Spielberg gifts you a hard nope with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
There’s a good deal spent on atmosphere-building before we get to the chaos.
Thankfully, this time around, Colin Trevorrow instead hands the directorial reins to JA Bayona (L’Orfanata, 2007), a comparatively competent filmmaker who’s had ample experience in visual-effects driven filmmaking with his work on A Monster Calls (2016)—and right from the opener, you know it was the right decision to make.
Bayona clearly understands the need to lace just the right amount of fear within his set-pieces, and a lot of that translates well on-screen—his patient, careful treatment of spectacle ably marries DOP Óscar Faura’s solid hold on cinematic movement, dramatic lighting, and a constant focus on the subject of any frame.
"So THIS is a dinos—," "STOP MANSPLAINING CHRIS WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE!"
(L-R) Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt star in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a Universal Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and Kennedy/Marshall release.
And that’s only part of the reason why Fallen Kingdom is fun while it lasts. There’s a good deal spent on atmosphere-building before we get to the chaos—so when we do, it has a considerable emotional impact compared to the previous one, which was in a real hurry to get to the finish line because—you know—reasons.
Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire […] isn’t under the shadow of Owen anymore.
Then again, Fallen Kingdom is highly dependent on Bayona‘s skill as a visual storyteller, and that’s not enough. Like Jurassic World, it’s penned by the same writers and comes with the same problems. We still have Chris Pratt’s lovable-sexist Owen Grady with no character arc, a miscast villain in Rafe Spall, and some hollow filler-characters that exist to serve no purpose.
If there’s anything that does benefit a marked improvement, it’s Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire who isn’t under the shadow of Owen anymore. She now has the agency to decide out of instinct, empathy, and the need to let life (uh) find its way. Take her out of the equation, and you’ve got cameos and cookie-cutter character tropes that didn’t deserve to exist in the first place. But I guess, in this case, something’s better than nothing.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a blast for sure (on the biggest screen possible—no less), and a considerable improvement over the first World, but when you’ve got foundations this weak, it’s hard not to feel disappointed and wonder what could have been.