Director: J.A. Bayona
Writers: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall
Jurassic Park is the movie that got me into movies. It’s my favourite film, by my favourite director, scored by my favourite film composer. The sequels have been hit and miss, even the Spielberg directed Lost World was lacklustre, and JP3 was little better than a TV movie in my opinion.
Jurassic World, however, brought us something I always wanted to see; a fully functioning park. It wasn’t a patch on the first film, but was fun, exciting, and full of good ideas. Its sequel, Fallen Kingdom, does something else I always wanted the series to do, by delving into the darker implications of genetic technology.
The director, J.A. Bayona, stated in interviews that he wanted a good reason for going back to the park, and he succeeds in giving us one. Isla Nublar is about to be destroyed by a newly active volcano, and the race is on to stop dinosaurs becoming extinct all over again. Enter Claire, Owen, and John Hammond’s old business partner, played by James Cromwell. Of course others have far less altruistic plans for the animals, namely selling them off to all sorts of questionable corporations and private collectors, and here is where the conflict comes in.
To say much else would spoil some of the movie’s surprises, and I’m happy to report there are actually a few. The movie could so easily have been predictable, but Bayona delivers a switch in the second half, effortlessly changing to a darker, more suspenseful tone. It’s the first time a Jurassic Park movie has been scary in a while.
The opening set- piece in particular is fantastic. In fact, Bayona shows a deft hand at creating thrilling set- pieces throughout, bar one mis-judged gag involving Owen and some lava. You’ll know it when you see it. Other nitpicks would be an over- intrusive musical score and an uneven script with some pretty cringe-worthy dialogue and jokes that don’t quite pan out.
When the script fails it’s largely saved by the sheer likability of the two leads. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are as solid as ever in their roles. Howard’s Claire gets more to do here, and is less of a buttoned-up cliche than she was in the last movie. She brings warmth and passion to the character, who has some hard truths to face about her role in all that’s happened with the park.
Pratt is charismatic and effective as a leading man, even if his character evolves a little less than Howard’s. He’s more stoic this time around, less of a man-child, but still not very interesting. His connection to the velociraptor, Blue, is well played though, and should have been the heart of the movie. Unfortunately the script downplays this connection during scenes where it would have made more dramatic sense to bring it to the fore.
Fallen Kingdom is a thrilling, fun, tense movie that takes the story in new directions. The ending leaves the Jurassic Park franchise in a fascinating place. What works so well about the main plot of this film and its ending is that both feel like they were always inevitable. From the moment John Hammond cloned that first dinosaur we were always headed in this direction. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.