Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Retrospective Review

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Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Rafe Spall as Eli Mills
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood
Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol
Ted Levine as Ken Wheatley
B. D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Geraldine Chaplin as Iris
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Director: J. A. Bayona

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.

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Many people seem to be very split on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, even among those who liked/disliked the first Jurassic World. I was very mixed about Fallen Kingdom when I first saw it, so I was curious about whether my opinion would change that much on a rewatch. I can at least say that I appreciate it a lot more this time, despite its numerous flaws.

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Like with Jurassic World, the main issue here is the script. The story is a mixed bag with plenty of cliched and recycled plot points. One thing notable about Fallen Kingdom is that it is not a film of 3 acts, but of two very different halves. The first half is about Owen, Claire and co. trying to save the dinosaurs from an island whose volcano is about to erupt. I wasn’t such a huge fan of that section, it wasn’t that interesting to me. It felt like it was falling back into Jurassic World’s worst tendencies with humour that falls flat, bad dialogue, and poorly written characters. The second half is where the movie begins to work more for me, going in a different direction compared to the first half. It consists of the main characters being inside a mansion and trying to stop dinosaurs from being sold off, while a special dinosaur wreaks havoc. I liked the plot more in this section and I especially enjoyed the horror aspects.

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I do think that out of the 5 movies thus far, Fallen Kingdom is the weirdest of the Jurassic Park movies, from the closed in haunted house second half, to the weird decisions, and there certainly are plenty of weird decisions. The one that springs to mind is a subplot following a girl named Maisie played by Isabella Sermon, where it is revealed in the third act that she’s not the granddaughter of James Cromwell, but rather a clone of his daughter. It is really out of place from the rest of the movie. Most of all, it feels contrived, like it was only there so that she would make the decision to let the dinosaurs out at the end. Much of the absurdity of these movies continues with Fallen Kingdom. That extends to the militarisation of the dinosaurs which is full on Umbrella Corporation and Weyland-Yutani levels of silliness. However, the first Jurassic World sort of got away with it because of the self awareness and the silly tone. Its follow up however seems to be comparatively darker and serious, making its absurd moments feel even more out of place. There are some genuinely good scenes. The moment with the brachiosaurus being left behind as the boat leaves stands out most of all, very startling in fact, coming out of nowhere. It is a very memorable and effect moment, even if it’s a bit emotionally manipulative. There are also some good character moments, and the plotline between Owen and an intelligent raptor named Blue was one of the highlights and I thought it worked well enough. Also, Fallen Kingdom ends on the note with dinosaurs going into the wild, leading the franchise into a direction that it hadn’t gone in before (and will be shown in the third movie).

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Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return to their roles of Owen and Claire and gave similar performances. Their characters may be more bearable to watch, but their acting isn’t quite as good, and they feel a little bland here. Once again, the chemistry isn’t strong and it falls flat, but thankfully the film doesn’t seem to be focussed on it in contrast to its predecessor. James Cromwell is decent in the few scenes he’s in. BD Wong also returns as a minor recurring antagonist Dr Wu. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm, but really it is just for two scenes, in the first act and at the end. It really feels like he was included just so that he can say “Welcome to Jurassic World” at the end. A lot of the other characters are poor however. There’s a couple of people who tag along with Claire and Owen played by Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, and they were really a source of a lot of the annoying humour in the movie. Then there’s the villains, who are somehow even more over the top than Vincent D’Onofrio in the last movie. You have Rafe Spall as a character who you can immediately tell is going to be revealed to be evil at the end. There’s also Toby Jones as a generically evil auctioneer for dinosaurs, and as well as Ted Levine as a cartoonishly evil mercenary and dinosaur hunter.

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J.A. Bayona honestly added something to Fallen Kingdom with his direction, more so than Colin Trevorrow in the previous movie. There are some good action scenes and set pieces from the volcano erupting in the first half, to the haunted house in the second half. A lot of Bayona’s horror skills get to be on display here, and the horror elements in the second half work quite well. Even the Indoraptor plays like a full on horror movie villain; there’s a scene where it approaches Maisie in her bedroom like it was Freddy Kreuger. The visuals in Fallen Kingdom were improved from Jurassic World, same with the CGI on the dinosaurs. A big part which probably helped is that in Fallen Kingdom, outside of a few sequences, there usually isn’t an overload of too many dinosaurs on screen at the same time. When the volcano erupts and lava is pouring close to a paralysed Chris Pratt, it looks fake but that’s just in one scene.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was better than I remembered. There are plenty of bad elements that make the experience frustrating, but it is mainly because there are some other aspects that are really good. For what it is worth, I do think that Fallen Kingdom is slightly better than Jurassic World. There are some really good scenes, and most of all the direction from J.A. Bayona was solid. The end of the movie has an opportunity for the franchise to take a different direction, which Dominion hopefully takes advantage of all.

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