Four years after the closure of Jurassic World, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to Isla Nublar as part of a team sent to rescue the surviving dinosaurs from the imminent eruption of a long-dormant volcano on the island, which will again cause their extinction.
2015’s Jurassic World is derivative, but is at least self-aware – the line about needing a “new attraction to reinvigorate the public’s interest” is as much about the film itself as the park – and crucially, it is entertaining, and is the best of the Jurassic Park sequels. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is by far the worst. The early trailers made it look like a rehash of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It isn’t, but in hindsight I think I’d have preferred that. I don’t think I have been this disappointed by a film since Indiana Jones And the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull…
Let’s start with some positives: the opening sequence is genuinely tense, and makes a great start to the movie. This sequence ends with a great “Oh shit” moment, even though it makes no sense when you think about it. And it seems to be forgotten until the very end of the movie.
Sorry, I know.. positives…
Visually, it looks amazing, particularly when the action is on the island, and there are some beautiful shots in the film, and a couple of nice little nods to the original Jurassic Park. The first dinosaur they encounter on the island is a nice visual homage to the first JP, and the overturned car in the old T-Rex paddock gave me a nice little pang of nostalgia.
Sadly, that feeling didn’t last. Some of the “visual homages” come across as retreads, and just made me more aware of the drivel I was watching.
On paper, it has a great cast. As well as Pratt and Howard, and the much-publicised return of Jeff Goldblum as Dr Ian Malcolm (absolutely wasted), there is Rafe Spall, James Cromwell, Ted Levine and Toby Jones, who are all usually great. Here, they are hamstrung by a script that has them spouting some ridiculous lines. Seriously, “This will make a fine centrepiece to my tooth necklace” should never be said out loud, especially when there’s only a dinosaur to hear it.
Rafe Spall’s villain is almost panto-like; all he is missing is a moustache to twirl. Ted Levine, who was so terrifying in The Silence Of The Lambs, seems to be playing the poacher from The Rescuers Down Under. The “comic relief” character isn’t funny at all, he’s just annoying. And the obligatory child-in-peril is a little girl who is precocious to the point of irritation. She had me wishing they would break the unwritten rule and let a child get eaten. Come back, Eric from Jurassic Park III, all is forgiven.
And as for the new big bad, the “Indoraptor”, it does provide a couple of scary moments, but just comes across as a knock-off of its big brother the Indominus Rex.
The ending does leave the series in a fairly interesting place but I really hope this new trilogy ends on a high note, because the middle one is a definite low. It gets one star for the opening sequence and one star for the cinematography. Otherwise, I recommend you just watch the trailer. All the good bits are in there.