My views on Jurassic World have changed a lot since it was released. When it first came out, I gave it a positive review, but over time, the flaws in the film have become more apparent, making it okay at best. Then there was The Book of Henry, one of the worst films released last year, that made me so thankful Colin Trevorrow wasn’t going to direct this one, along with Star Wars Episode 9. However, Trevorrow still co-wrote the script and, even with a better visual director with J.A. Bayona, the script kills the film, putting this about on par with Jurassic Park 3 as the worst film in the series.
The film takes place 3 years after the events of Jurassic World, with the dinosaurs living in peace of Isla Nublar, however a volcano eruption on the island threatens to kill them so Claire Dearing, the former operations manager of Jurassic World who now runs the Dinosaur Protection Group, is trying to rescue the dinosaurs. Help comes in the form of Benjamin Lockwood, and his aide Eli Mills, who offer to rescue the dinosaurs and send them to a sanctuary to keep them safe, but they need a velociraptor which means that Owen Grady needs to be brought on due to his work with velociraptors and the bond he formed with Blue, who is now the last velociraptor. However, Mills has ulterior motives involving the genetic work used to create the Indominus Rex in Jurassic World, which comes into conflict with Claire and Owen wanting to protect the dinosaurs. Now what I’ll say positively is that the idea of dinosaur rights as a sub-section of animal rights is an interesting idea and efforts for their conservation are fascinating ideas, however the film doesn’t go far enough with these ideas, these only really being seen in the first act of the film. I also think that going in more of a straight horror direction in the final act was a smart call and plays well into J.A Bayona’s wheelhouse, but this is let down by the writing in the film. Simply put, the writing is bad. None of the characters are compelling and are often complete morons, none of the ethical issues raised are discussed longer than 5 minutes and the whole film feels like set up for the third film in the series rather than a solid film in it’s own right. This isn’t helped by the terrible pacing in the film, everything moving too fast and making it so there isn’t any time to breathe. In the first Jurassic Park, after we first get a solid view of the dinosaurs there’s about 20/30 minutes before all the action starts to build the world, the characters and the ethical issues. Here though, none of that is seen so we can jump from one action set piece to another and since there’s not enough work put into the characters, I didn’t care whenever anything bad happened to them. There’s one point in the third act that should have been a powerful, game changing moment in the series, but no time is given for it to set in and none of the characters react to it, so it may as well have not been in the film. Some of the decisions here don’t even make sense compared to the first one, such as a new genetically engineered dinosaur needing to be made from the DNA of the Indominus Rex and a velociraptor, when the Indominus Rex was already part velociraptor. The whole film feels more focused on reminding people of Jurassic Park and setting up Jurassic World 3 than creating a solid film.
The cast meanwhile is a fairly mixed bag. Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire is given more development this time around and is a more compelling character but the development we get for her here should have been what we got in Jurassic World and it just feels too little too late. Chris Pratt as Owen meanwhile is profoundly unlikable, coming across as overly smug and entitled, giving the scenes he has with Howard a pretty uncomfortable air. Rafe Spall as Mills is a completely generic villain, pretty much exactly the same as Vincent D’Onofrio’s character in Jurassic World whilst James Cromwell is completely wasted as Lockwood, the one interesting element about his character being delivered when he’s not on screen and we don’t get any reaction from him about the reveal. Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda are profoundly irritating in their roles, with Smith’s role feeling like it should have been Jake Johnson’s character from the first film. Toby Jones is one of the few highlights in the film as a slimy auctioneer as Jones is always great in these types of roles and is a lot of fun to watch. Jeff Goldblum meanwhile is completely wasted, pretty much what we see of him in the trailer is the extent of his performance in the film.
On a technical level, the film is fairly solid. The dinosaur effects here are much better than they were in Jurassic World, feeling more believable and the mix of CG and animatronics not standing out as much and J.A Bayona uses this, and an effective use of shadows for some decent horror moments. However, the overall film is too dark, making it hard to see some parts of it and I was watching it in IMAX and even the quality of IMAX couldn’t fix how dark the film is. The biggest issue though is the editing and blocking, which breaks the 180 rule too regularly and the focus on getting from one action scene to another removes a lot of the tension from the film by making escape methods too obvious. Even though Bayona creates some solid moments, these are mostly just lifted from Jurassic Park, a scene in an exhibition of dinosaur history in Lockwood’s mansion playing out virtually the same way as the kitchen scene in Jurassic Park.
Overall, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a film with an identity crisis. Through wanting to copy the original Jurassic Park and set up Jurassic World 3 there isn’t a solid enough identity for this film on its own, not helped by the poor script from Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly which makes me doubt that the next film will fix the issues due to Trevorrow having more control over it. The ideas the film raises are interesting, but there isn’t enough attention given to them in this film to make them any more than window dressing.
My Rating: 2/5