Image: Chris Pratt’s Owen comes face to face with the iconic T-Rex [Source: IMDB]
Years after the event that closed the park for good, Claire (Bryce Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) are tasked with heading back to the island in a rescue operation. The dormant volcano on the island is erupting and the once extinct dinosaurs face that same conclusion once again.
Director: J. A. Bayona. Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Rafe Spall, Ted Levine, Toby Jones, Jeff Goldblum. [12A]
Jurassic World writers, uh, find a way… If this plot line sounds vaguely familiar, it is because it’s perhaps a little too familiar. Heading back to the now dinosaur controlled island in a rescue mission – the vague plotline of a previous iteration of Jurassic Park. Outlines a very prominent and definite problem with this franchise and Fallen Kingdom in particular. It is a tried and ultimately fatigued experience.
Jurassic World brought back the excitement and mild horror of Michael Crichton’s original Jurassic Park. But Fallen Kingdom in its successful subverting of expectations wastes arguably the richest part of the story. Some may see returning back to the island as more of the same but I believe that the Jurassic Park trilogy failed to execute the absolute horror of returning back to an island of dinosaurs that humans are no longer in control of. It should have taken some notes from Alien or Aliens. At the very least, Fallen Kingdom could have easily pushed this aspect of the film and made a more significant instalment to the franchise.
Fallen Kingdom also demonstrates this lack of significance with just a slight twist of the ideas from Jurassic World. Seemingly the issue that this trilogy is going to continue to face is further genetically modified dinosaurs. Bigger, bigger, bigger and bigger – until we have some sort of dinosaur that is every dino combined into some grotesque amalgamation. Frankly, it comes across as juvenile. One dimensional writing, characters and plotting do little to lift the tiring nature of the series. Actors do a good job of selling their characters in the excessive plotline, although with little to no depth to any of them. With a few welcome and refreshing additions to the cast and ignoring the sometimes silly characterisations, for the most part, the cast walk the same familiar paths of the thousands of generic characters that have come before them.
While Bayona fails to develop the film, the franchise or the characters he does manage the filmmaking well. Capturing the action set pieces and large destruction elements of the movie with awe-inspiring visuals. All while using mostly practical effects. It is certainly a merit to capture the grand scale of this world in this manner and it does pay off, most of the dinosaurs seem grossly appropriate and the excitement is natural. While some may find its subverting of expectations a welcomed treat, its grand and well-handled action an exciting draw and its practical effects a celebratory invite. It is impossible to ignore the sufficient lack of innovation to the series, the tired characters and writing of the franchise as well as the same old tropes being demonstrated again and again. What Jurassic Park’s franchise really needs is a director with a vision of where to push new ideas and intoxicating characters. In the end, Fallen Kingdom, while exciting and subverting of expectations, is a box standard, trope infested, lazily written and empty theme park ride. Life did not find a way into this instalment.