'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Review: Life Finds A Way, But At What Cost?
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom explodes into theaters this month. But does the highly anticipated sequel have more bark than bite?
Jurassic World's unprecedented success in 2015 rebooted the legendary Jurassic Park franchise and kickstarted a brand new trilogy. While the initial trio of films focused on the majesty of dino de-extinction, the reboot would tell a darker tale of mankind's obsession with control, resulting in a focus on genetically-modified hybrids. But how does one top something as thought-provoking and meta as this? Well, the answer is simple: More teeth.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is undoubtedly an even greater spectacle than all of its predecessors. The film's plot centers around the potential re-extinction of all dinosaurs, due to an active volcano on Isla Nublar. Thus, the good-natured colleague of John Hammond hatches a noble plan to rescue the dinosaurs, recruiting Claire and Owen due to their previous experiences on the island. What follows is an endless rollercoaster that will likely entertain the majority of Jurassic fans. But it encounters a few hitches along the way.
The script is rather frustrating: It sets up an interesting dilemma that poses some intelligent questions about morality, but the execution results in a flawed, convoluted story. The first act is positively brilliant — with the characters' main objective clearly outlined (and a series of thrilling moments that remind us why we love this franchise so much). But as it heads into the second act, the film begins to drag a little. It's not necessarily that the pacing is off, it's that you can deliberately tell that the filmmakers are holding off on pulling the huge trigger until the trilogy's final entry in 2021.
Like with most trilogies, Fallen Kingdom feels like it's been designed to bridge the gap between the first and final film. Thus, it doesn't offer anything particularly new. But that doesn't mean that it isn't a heck of a lot of fun — because it is.
Director J.A. Bayona wastes no time making his mark on the franchise, with darker elements and a more unique horror-esque approach. While the film maintains plenty of awe-inspiring Spielberg moments, the distinctly darker tone makes its presence felt right from the very beginning. While this unique blend of styles doesn't always match seamlessly, the end result is visually stunning.
With the dinosaurs lives at stake, the film forces us to question the moral grounds of the franchise. Should genetically-engineered clones be treated with the same compassion that natural animals are? Are they worthy of saving? In that sense, it was nice to see such a focus placed on the dinosaurs — they were actually being treated like real characters. But unfortunately, it came at the expense of the human characters — none of whom really got the chance to develop.
While Chris Pratt is once again ideal as the infectiously confident action hero, the script doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know about Owen. Similarly, despite Bryce Dallas Howard's impressive performance, Claire's character arc feels like it has hit a wall. While it's clear to see that she has learned from her experiences three years ago, there are still times that it feels like she lacks a driving force. And this is where the film really missed Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins. Claire's nephews, Zach and Gray, were the driving force behind her development in the previous entry and she could have benefited from revisiting that. Without that emotional connection, it just ends up feeling like "Okay, she developed but what's next?".
The new characters aren't really given a chance to stand out, and the franchise once again finds itself relying on a cartoonish villain who is evil simply because the plot requires him to be. There is one interesting new addition that is involved in one of the film's more intriguing subplots. However, that arc is saved for the "until next time" club.
One thing that the film succeeds at is paying tribute to what came before. It's common knowledge that this franchise thrives on nostalgia, and there was plenty of it here — even if it wasn't totally successful. Although Jurassic World made me feel like a kid again, Fallen Kingdom was unable to recreate that magic (despite featuring the largest collection of Jurassic Park Easter Eggs known to man). Instead, we got a decent action-thriller that raises a number of really intelligent and thought-provoking questions. But the execution of its over-muddled plot left something to be desired.
All in all, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom does have more teeth than its predecessor, but its bite isn't quite as effective. Having said that, it's still one heck of an entertaining thrill-ride and a worthy entry in this iconic franchise.
Did you enjoy Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom? Let us know in the comments below!