Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom attempts to rethink this 25 year old franchise, but forgets what made Spielberg's original so special

Film Review by Joseph Walsh | 06 Jun 2018
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Film title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Director: JA Bayona
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, BD Wong, Jeff Goldblum, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin
Release date: 6 Jun
Certificate: 12

The Orphanage director J.A. Bayona offers up the genre-splicing Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom, which attempt to recalibrate this 25-year-old franchise, moving it away from its theme park antics into the human world. The result is a B-movie on a big budget, with a thinly written liberal agenda crowbarred in.

Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly are behind the bloated screenplay, and seem determined to break away from the DNA of the beloved original. At the same time, however, they never manage to fully let go, paying nauseating homage to Spielberg’s 1993 film – including a blink-and-you'll-miss-him appearance from chaos theory proponent Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).

Cinema has moved on since the original’s awe-inspiring digitally crafted and animatronic dinosaurs, and the same tricks no longer satisfy. Fallen Kingdom aims to free itself from the confines of the Isla Nublar setting of the former films. So in the first act, the island gets blown up by a massive volcanic eruption that threatens to wipe out John Hammond’s creations (quite why the film’s sinister genetics and theme park company would invest billions of dollars’ worth of assets on an island with an active volcano goes unanswered). 

Before this mini-extinction event, one-time park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard, sporting the more sensible jungle boots instead of six inch heels this time around) and raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) reteam at the behest of the conniving Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). He’s working for Hammond’s one-time partner, the sickly Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who lives on a remote Californian estate.

When events go south, Claire and her team – which includes hipster scientist Zia (Daniella Pineda) and computer geek Franklin (Justice Smith) – realise they have been betrayed, and that the rescued animals are going to be put up for auction to the highest bidder.

The screenplay’s themes are as unsubtle as a tyrannosaurus on the rampage, stomping and chomping through subjects as diverse as animal trafficking, the perils of cloning, protection of endangered species, the sins of arms dealing, the 1% elite and globalisation. A misjudged swipe at Trump also comes out of nowhere, perhaps in an endeavour to be topical? It’s all exhaustingly naïve.

Back on the mainland at the gothic Lockwood estate, the film takes a bizarre turn. The plot shifts away from action adventure into out-and-out horror, with the revelation of a new beastie – the hybrid Indoraptor. Bayona is on more sure footing here, but the genre shift is undoubtedly awkward.

The scenes ape everything from James Whale’s Frankenstein to Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s delivered to good effect, however, with Bayona relishing a Victorian gothic aesthetic, with the fear factor ramped up thanks to diminutive scream-Queen Isabella Sermon as Lockwood’s granddaughter.

Overall, Fallen Kingdom is the stuff of B-movie plots, closer to the disastrous 1996 Island of Doctor Moreau in its outcome, albeit peppered with the occasional exciting concept. Uncomfortably placed between a classic monster movie and a film that tries to wrestle with too many weighty issues, the result is a limp, mangled and dull mess, with its filmmakers forgetting what made the original such a magical experience.

Released by Universal Pictures