Sunday 17 June 2018

Film Review: Jurassic World - Fallen Kingdom

Return to Isla Nublar in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a sequel with plenty for fans to enjoy – but also its fair share of issues.

Given that Jurassic World earned the largest opening weekend of all time upon its release in 2015, it seemed only a matter of time that its stars – Chris Pratt as raptor wrangler Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard as park operations manager Claire – would be roped back for a second adventure.

This time, the action centres around a rescue mission; the ruins of Jurassic World are still swarming with dinosaurs after its abandonment at the end of the last movie, but now the long-dormant volcano beneath the island begins to stir, threatening to drench the creatures in hot lava. Claire and Owen are contacted by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), who, along with an old acquaintance of John Hammond, wants to stage a daring mission to save as many species as possible before the extinction-level event.

Colin Trevorrow, who wrote and directed Jurassic World, this time serves as executive producer and screenwriter, with Spanish filmmaker JA Bayona (A Monster Calls, The Impossible) sitting in the director's chair. This switch gives Fallen Kingdom a different aesthetic; it's grittier, earthier and more fiery, and Bayona, showcasing his Spanish horror roots, plays with light and shadow more than Trevorrow.

Silhouettes of fearsome raptors creep across bedroom walls; claws reach from the darkness, ready to hack and slash. Rain lashes on the rooftops of Gothic manors; colourful visitor jeeps have been replaced with utilitarian humvees. The wonderment is gone, with fear and chills taking its place.

Especially in the third act, Fallen Kingdom is distinctly scarier than its glossy predecessor, which was more concerned with flaunting the flashiness of the theme park in all its glory. Here, everything lies in ruin, overgrown and reclaimed by Mother Nature. The cataclysmic eruption glimpsed in the trailers is the standout action set piece, where hellfire rains down our heroes as they scramble to salvage what they can from this increasingly untameable wilderness. Setting the mood and nailing the look is where Fallen Kingdom excels.

However, Fallen Kingdom's status as the second film in a trilogy – yes, there will be a third World film – means it is lumbered with lots of loopy plot threads, which more often than not don't make a lick of sense. Whilst Bayona's eye for imagery is excellent, Trevorrow and Derek Connolly's screenplay is riddled with more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese, particularly towards the end of the film. I would give it plaudits for ending it where it did (i.e. with a big gamble) if so many of the machinations to get us there didn't creak with the effort of wrestling a piano up two flights of stairs.

While Spielberg's first film had moments to pause and reflect ("your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should"), this sequel has all the subtlety of a T-Rex stomping his way through a china shop. The villains stride around plain as day while physics and logic take a backseat during the action. One scene, which sees a cross-species dino blood transfusion, should be taken with a particularly large pinch of salt.

Pratt is full of the same cocksure swagger as last time while Dallas Howard's character sheds some of the fussiness; new additions like Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda as two other expeditionary employees don't really add much, while returning faces like Jeff Goldblum are severely underused. Toby Jones' moustache-twirling baddie feels like he's stepped out of a completely different era and onto the set of Jurassic World.

The Verdict: 6/10

With a better script and a firmer grasp on logic, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom could have been something great. Instead, it's merely passable. Bayona does inject some spookiness but can't do much with the lacklustre screenplay. But hey, at least it's nice to look at?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is in cinemas across Australia from Thursday June 21. 

Images courtesy of Universal Pictures Australia.

1 comment:

  1. Great review Rhys! I gave this the same rating as you. I had a lot of fun watching it but the second half in particular just got silly!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...