Movie Review: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’


Director: J.A. Bayona

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Jeff Uh Goldblum

Plot: Isla Nublar, former location of the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World resorts, is under threat of destruction from a newly active volcano. Owen and Claire get recruited to help a rescue effort to rehouse the dinosaurs but, upon arrival, learn that their benefactors have something else in mind.

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Review: Ok, here we go. Tropical island, dinosaurs, contrived reason to be there, ticking clock narrative, yadda yadda yadda. Some song, different day.

Except not.

Whether this movie works for you or not you have to give it credit for taking things in a new direction. This film explores some interesting new ideas and even sets up some excellent situations for the third film. I do strongly suggest skipping the final trailer though, unless you like having all the cool parts shown out of context in the marketing.

Claire is spearheading a political campaign to protect the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar while the world fiercely debates the rights of ‘de-extinct’ species. She gets approached by John Hammond’s former partner, Ben Lockwood, who needs her help to relocate the dinosaurs to a sanctuary before they’re destroyed by a volcanic eruption. Upon recruiting Owen by telling him that Blue is still alive they head to the island with  sassy paleoveterinarian Zia and nervous IT technician Franklin. Shortly after arriving on Nublar it becomes clear that Lockwood’s right hand man, Mills, really intends to round up the animal population to auction them off and fund genetic weapons research.

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This movie took some turns we weren’t expecting. Overall they spend about a third of the movie on the island, and the entire eruption sequence is one of the more visually spectacular moments in the franchise. Once the bad guys have rounded up all the dinosaurs everyone boards a ship to head for the mainline, a portion of the film containing a very close encounter with the T-Rex, before they wind up at Lockwood’s estate. This location is pure Umbrella Corp – a sprawling mansion complete with genetic laboratories hidden underground.

It’s here that we get our new Big Bad and, once again, it’s a genetically engineered super velociraptor. We preferred the design of this one over the Indominus Rex for the previous film. It’s got a more unique design and is downright scary looking. The idea of a tactical attack raptor is interesting but we hope they don’t pull this card again. Twice in a row is enough. The change in setting certainly makes it more interesting though, some of the monster stalking around the old mansion scenes are very cool.

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Exploring the politics and social impact of genetic engineering and the recreation of dinosaurs is an interesting plot point but one that could be explored further. There’s more than a suggestion that the full impact of this theme will be seen in the third film. It should be noted that making the audience more interested in the sequel than the film they’re currently watching is something of a back-handed compliment.

The new setting, the visuals and the ideas of genetic engineering all work in the film’s favour. Claire is also, quite pointedly, wearing sensible shoes this time. What holds the film back is how much it feels like it’s in a holding pattern between the first and third film. It’s fun, but it’s not ground breaking.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN

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