Movie Review – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
“Remember when you saw your first dinosaur… it was magical!”, said the beaming ray of sun with peachy hair and rosy lips that is Claire (played by the once again under used Bryce Dallas Howard).
Though this line is a sign that the rest of the film will be safety NOT guaranteed, it connects with many viewers. It’s now that we remember the transcendent magic of Steven Spielberg’s original blockbuster that roared into theaters in 1993 — a ride that was as amusing as an amusement park, with roller-coaster tension and relatable characters.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is an epiphany in its own right. A bleak and boisterous spectacle that is red in tooth and claw, sinking its teeth into the studio formula which exclaims the bigger the better, the more guns the more tickets. It’s out with feasible tension, characters, and creativity, and in with volcanic absurdity. If 2015’s “Jurassic World” didn’t spell it out for you, this will, FALLEN FRANCHISE (or kingdom, use whatever works best for the films marketing campaign).
Under threat of global extinction, the only hope lies in the charisma and virtue of Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). How will they do it this time around? Well, besides a considerable amount of running and dodging T-Rexs and lustrous fire-balls, they must save the alienated reptiles stranded on the island Isla Nublar. Enter Chris Pratt, the dino-whisperer who sports a sentimental relationship with velocirapter Blue.
What has crumbled is Claire’s theme park Jurassic World. And in hopes of finding a new sanctuary for the apparently lovable creatures who have licked their jagged chops at the human race for five installments, she confides in an oily billionaire (Rafe Spell) who puts these mythical creatures up for auction in his inky basement.
If you’re a fan of scenes where everything suddenly goes dark, and then a bright light appears to reveal a dinosaur lurking in the shadows, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” may be more stimulating than the protagonist’s sexual appeal. This is where the Spanish director, J.A Bayona, fittingly shines — in the darkness. Through Bayona’s keen eye for detail, cinematographer Oscar Faura’s gift of capturing grand scale in a grandiose fashion, the chirpy score from Michael Giacchino, and the magnificently real-looking animation that creates the creatures, the latest of the enterprise makes an effort at avoiding extinction.
The movie’s downfall doesn’t come from the breathtaking action of a T-Rex roar to the backdrop of a thunderous volcano, or roar when it is time to cleverly devour the idiotic side-characters, but because that action follows in all too familiar footsteps. It doesn’t just meander through the motions of past franchise busts, it also takes an all too familiar trail, which I’ll refer to as the “Aliens” route. Queue the machismo military veterans flexing their muscles as they compensate for lack of character — though even the stars here go without character development.
When will sequels learn that what worked for James Cameron probably wont work for you. There is more genuine action taking place in Sigourney Weaver’s flowing curls, than there is in the entirety of this picture. To stretch the analogy with a metaphor, Weaver’s dense curls also resemble “Kingdoms” jumbled plot and pacing–am I reaching with that one? I don’t think so. It’s clear it would take more than a mere balding haircut to straighten this mess.
If you were to go back and watch the original, or even the original blockbuster, Spielberg’s “Jaws”, you will notice that these all-time greats don’t feel the need to constantly be exciting through means of violent action. They ease in, lulling their pray. Developing characters, tension, and pacing without jumping into or quickly showing the giants. These two films ultimately capitalize on our fear of the unknown, and the wonder and fear of the monster being unveiled.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is an even scarier sort of monster. That being the creation of the mysterious, and probably pitiful, end to the rebooted trilogy. As Ray Arnold so eloquently put it in the first “Jurassic Park”, “Hold on to your butts”!