If you would like to read Dylan S. Phillips’ earlier review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, click here.
Synopsis: It’s been four years since theme park and luxury resort Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs out of containment. Isla Nublar now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the jungles. When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Owen is driven to find Blue, his lead raptor who’s still missing in the wild, and Claire has grown a respect for these creatures she now makes her mission. Arriving on the unstable island as lava begins raining down, their expedition uncovers a conspiracy that could return our entire planet to a perilous order not seen since prehistoric times. (Universal Pictures)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Justice Smith
Writers: Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow
Director: J.A. Bayona
Rating: PG (Canada)
Running Time: 128 mins
After the original Jurassic World had a decent reception with both critics and audiences, this new sequel, Fallen World, has so far been panned for the most part and rightfully so. This film was nowhere near the Jurassic World, that film was mindless but at least it was fun. Now this film takes that mindlessness to another level that makes it more tedious than fun and a chore to watch while it gets bogged down by cliches, contrived writing, and mediocre dialog. Some will be able to suspend belief, however, this becomes more difficult as the film progresses.
Everyone knows the story by now. They have to same the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar from the threat of an impending volcano. Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Howard) are back at it, four years later, to save the dinosaurs, however, not everyone was on board. There was some debate on the issue, including a useless cameo from Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm, but it didn’t amount to anything. They obviously got to the island along with a few members of Claire’s team, a paleo-veterinarian named Zia (Daniella Pineda) and a systems analyst named Franklin (Smith). Both of these characters can be summed up by the fact that each had polar opposite feelings about going to the island which were played for comedic effect.
These scenes featured heavily in the trailers and this stretch of the film was the best part of the film and could have been a film all to itself. There were some thrilling moments (both scenes that were shown in the trailers) but it was only the beginning and was done way too quickly. While this stretch wasn’t the greatest, it just got worse from there as the story became increasingly convoluted and riddled with plot holes, throwing pretty much everything at us and hoping that something would stick. This did nothing other than stretch the premise into something much more than it needed to be, also making this film longer and lazily setting up an inevitable third film. All of these contrivances adding nothing to the film besides steering it in an extremely predictable direction. Characters also helped with steering the story as their questionable decision making also heavily influenced the direction of the story.
After leaving the island, the film became a completely different film. The tone shifted to the unresolved question of using dinosaurs as weapons by evil corporations and evil people with a cliche evil businessman front and center, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). Nothing about this was new by any means and was simply a means to an end. The last stretch of the film devolves into an unoriginal, tension-less survival film with plenty of horror elements sprinkled along the way. This part offered no palpable sense of danger or emotional stakes for the characters, at least the main ones, so these scenes were more dull to watch than anything else because of all the contrivances and predictability. The ending was the the ultimate facepalm moment.
Even with everything else, there were a few positives to be had here. The special effects were very good from the dinosaurs to the destruction of Isla Nublar. For a dinosaur film, it gets the dinosaurs right through the use of CGI and practical effects. To that effect, it was simply easier to care about the dinosaurs then the human characters. In fact, the relationships between the human characters and the dinosaurs were more believable than their relationships with one another. Also, the score was excellent on its own. The problem with it was its use in the film. The film beats us over the head with it at every turn by playing it over just about every scene, making it more intrusive and taking away its impact.
The acting was decent across the board but it could have been much better as the terrible writing sunk the film from the contrived story to the mediocre and occasionally cringe-worthy dialog. Pratt has plenty of charisma and has always been likable so despite the sub par material, he is still compelling to watch as Owen. Howard wasn’t particularly bad per se as Claire, she was just there. Their lack of chemistry carried over from the previous film and was more noticeable here with their increased time together. Smith was irritating more often than not as Franklin, the comic relief. At least he had decent chemistry with Pineda who had some decent moments as the wise-cracking Zia.
Overall, this was a disappointing mess of a sequel with some good special effects but is ultimately sunk by its terrible script, mediocre dialog, and incredibly intrusive score. Its contrived, convoluted, cliche, and predictable story devoid of it any thrills whatsoever and make it feel longer than it actually is and a chore to watch for those unable to turn off their brains. However, hardcore Pratt and/or Jurassic Park/World fans may find something to enjoy. Hopefully the inevitable finale can right the ship.