6th June 2018 (UK) 22nd June 2018 (US)
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.
Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Ted Levine, Toby Jones
Move over, Jurassic Park 3: there’s a new king of the triceratops dung pile with the arrival of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
It’s been three years since the Isla Nebula and the failed Jurassic World experiment was abandoned, with a large number of dinosaurs still living there. Their survival is threatened once again when the island’s dormant volcano suddenly becomes active, triggering an imminent eruption. Can former park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Dino handler Owen (Chris Pratt) along with a group of volunteers successfully get the animals to safety before the Big One blows? More pressingly, where exactly will they go?
Firstly, I want to talk about the choice of director in J.A. Bayona. Having watched his previous work, the decision to have him helm such a big budget project like this seemed baffling. I’ve always seen Bayona’s movies as more character-driven than having a reliance on explosive set pieces; last years A Monster Calls saw a young boy escape into his imagination to get away from the realities of terminal illness, 2012’s The Impossible focused on the strength of a family’s bond as they were caught in the middle of a devastating tsunami and 2007’s eerie Spanish haunted house horror The Orphanage conjured up scares by initially building solid foundations with its protagonists.
It’s the defining plot points of the latter two films, The Orphanage and The Impossible, which are more than likely the reasons why he was given Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. His harrowing recreation a full scale natural disaster in the form of a tsunami makes him the ideal choice to do it once again with a volcano and his talent to manufacture suspense in confined spaces comes in handy in the films third act. While I can see the intentions and grand ideas of writers Colin Trevorrow (who helmed the first Jurassic World) and Derek Connolly (Kong: Skull Island), much like the goings on in the film, it’s an experiment which simply does not work. The scope of the island destruction isn’t as much of a spectacle as hoped and there’s minimal tension contained within the mansion when the prehistoric beasts are let loose. Additionally, both The Orphanage and The Impossible spent time moulding players worth investing in so the events had more of an impact when they occur – no such luck here.
In Fallen Kingdom, development or furthering of existing characters is non-existent. Pratt and Dallas Howard could be absolutely anybody and are present in the film simply because of the facial familiarity and continuity from the last instalment, albeit with traits and quirks they displayed in Jurassic World utterly absent here. After much fanfare in the marketing, Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr Ian Malcolm for a solid two minutes, book-ending the film in scenes that have been displayed in their entirety in the trailer (but I’ll get to that in a second). A few expendable and disposable young campaigners are thrown into the mix to try and offset the complete lack of chemistry between the two big name stars but they appear on screen for a few moments before disappearing for another 20. The terrific Ted Levine is severely underutilised as the seasoned mercenary Ken Wheatley who is in charge of the rescue operation as is the equally brilliant Toby Jones as the money hungry Gunnar Eversoll who criminally does not get enough screen time.
There’s the occasional visual flair which signals Bayona’s involvement and background which ignites a spark of hope for Fallen Kingdom; a silhouette of an extremely large dinosaur hiding in a pipe which is only illuminated by the sporadically dripping lava is a definite highlight, as is another scene featuring a rocking horse, a dinosaur and some smart shadow play, but these moments are too few and far between. Its use of practical effects is a nice touch too, but it’s not exclusive – they only come into play when the dinosaurs are stationary or lying down. For the most part, the CGI is a slight improvement on Jurassic World though, save for some questionable scenes with a new, spiky-headed introduction.
Fallen Kingdom is very much a case of ‘if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the film’ too. Almost every major scene culmination has already been displayed in its marketing, making the intended pivotal moments fall flat because you know they’re coming and how they’re going to go. If you’ve yet to see any of the previews, I strongly advise you to keep it that way; you’ll enjoy the film much more for knowing less.
The tagline ominously warns that ‘The Park is Gone’. How right that is – along with the charm, excitement and wonder that Spielberg introduced the world to back in 1993. Undoubtedly, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the most disappointing film of 2018 for me so far.
Use of practical effects
Toby Jones and Ted Levine shine in an otherwise forgettable list of characters
No real threat
Character development or advancement is non-existent
It's all in the trailer
Cheated with promise of Goldblum that doesn't deliver