Three years after the theme park Jurassic World is abandoned and the creatures on the island of Isla Nublar are left to their own devices, the U.S. Senate with the help of Dr Ian Malcom are deciding whether to save the dinosaurs trapped on an island that is about to explode with volcanic activity. Claire Dearing is championing the rights of the same giant lizards that tried to eat and or squash her in the first movie. She receives a call from the estate of Benjamin Lockwood and meets the man running Lockwood’s foundation, Eli Mills, with a plan to save the dinosaurs. To rescue Blue, a velociraptor and the last of her kind, Claire also enlists the help of Owen Grady, who she broke up with between the first Jurassic World and now. However, not all is as it seems as Mills has plans to auction off the prehistoric beasts. Oh, and there is also another man-made dinosaur as well.
Well, here we are back again on Isla Nublar to watch dinosaurs roar into the sky, while people look on in awe and terror. This is the fifth instalment in the Jurassic Park/World series and like the others that came after the original Jurassic Park seems to have focused on the spectacle of the dinosaurs and forgotten the human soul at the centre of it.
One of the many things that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has going against it is that if you have watched the trailer, you have watched the film. You know that there will be a betrayal, you have seen the big set pieces and the best parts of the film. This is a good thing because, while a trailer is only two minutes, three at most, the actual movie is over two hours of monotonous action. We go from the rescue mission on the island, which would have made its own film, to another rescue mission on a giant estate with another genetically engineered predator. We are shuffled from spectacle to spectacle without a pause to absorb the stakes or emotional investment in the proceedings despite all the effort from director J. A. Bayona’s (best known for his work on last year’s heart yanker A Monster Calls) best efforts to ram sentimentality down your throats. We have a scene where a lone dinosaur wails mournfully as it is engulfed by fire, we have them suffocated and caged bellow an evil lab and we are supposed to feel sympathy for these animals. But what is weird is that for the rest of the film they are terrifying beasts that crush, munch and destroy pretty much everything that gets in their way. It is a very bloodless affair, both literally and figuratively, all the dinosaur attacks are incredibly obviously 12A, and the film itself lacks any of the original soul and wimsey from Stephen Speilberg’s original, but it was obvious that had left the franchise back in The Lost World.
We don’t care about anything that goes on, on-screen mainly because it plays out like a bad theme park attraction ride. With the minimal development and set up for the character relations and motivations, maximum emphasis is on forward momentum despite the lack of rhyme or reason. What makes this all the more irritating is that during the awfully compositied action and cloying sentimentality we have an intrusive score that sneaks in where it is not wanted or needed, forcing the audience to have an emotional reaction.
Returning to the Jurassic World Franchise are Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as Owen and Claire, who again provide the human characters the audience follows fleeing from the giant reptiles. And yet Owen and Claire are incredibly dull, providing less chemistry than they did in the first film and looking incredibly awkward on screen as they interact with poorly CGIed dinosaurs. Yes, Toby Jones and Rafe Spall try their best as the villains of the piece, but they get lost in amongst the strange high jinx that is going on. And James Cromwell is in the film as the silent partner to the original Jurassic Park, but he doesn’t look like he is even trying to do a British accent. So all in all the cast, despite the star power, isn’t worth commenting on. That is apart from Benjamin Lockwood’s ‘granddaughter’ Maisie, who is perhaps the element in the story most responsible for torpedoing any sense of logic and reason in the franchise. In a world where actresses are harassed off social media, I should quickly say that young actress Isabella Sermon is fine playing the role, but the decisions that Masie makes and the role that she plays as written by the screenwriters make her the most infuriating character in this franchise.
While I was watching Fallen Kingdom I was reminded of an interaction between Owen and Claire from the first film about the dinosaur “wow factor”. The people behind the Jurassic World series, apparently don’t trust enough that dinosaurs are enough of that wow factor so they keep adding different elements to the films like genetically manufactured creatures and bizarre subplots to stop people getting bored in the movie. But it is precisely these elements that are lazily and haphazardly added that cause Fallen Kingdom to fail so utterly at engaging audiences for its runtime.
The story plods along repetitiously with characters that you feel apathetic about. It seems to rip up its own internal logic and forces its players to make some of the stupidest decisions just because. Quite frankly Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is infuriating, and even the bookmarking of the film by Jeff Goldblum can’t save it from how atrocious it is.
You can watch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in cinemas now