Film review by Jason Day of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the second instalment in the dinosaurs on the run, blockbuster reboot. Starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt.
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Three years after the disaster at the theme park and resort Jurassic World in which real-life dinosaur ‘exhibits’ went on the rampage and killed or injured holidaymakers, efforts are afoot to save the dinosaurs by moving them to a new island that will keep them secure and completely separate from humans.
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the former Operations Director of Jurassic World, now heads an animal rights organisation whose aim is to protect the dinosaurs on the island. With a volcano about to erupt and shadowy forces moving to sell the animals to the highest bidder in a crude ‘slave auction’, she enlists the help of ‘dino-wrangler’ and her former boyfriend Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to make sure they are safely relocated.
Review, by Jason Day
It comes to something when you add the words ‘Donald and ‘Trump’ to the long list of tags in your WordPress account.
But add them I must, for a subtle satirical jab is aimed at POTUS in, of all movies, this latest addition to the long-running Jurassic…series of films.
During the opening scene, a BBC News reporter summarises the latest update about the dinosaurs on the now abandoned Isla Nublar complex. Ticker tape at the bottom of screen reads “US President denies dinosaurs existed in the first place”. A genius, if all too fleeting, bit of ‘Fake News’ in the scripting.
It’s not the only bit of cleverness to be found in the words, as co-written by Colin Trevorrow, who directed the first Jurassic World film. Jeff Goldblum returns as the critical, iconoclastic ‘chaostician’ Dr Ian Malcolm. Still clad head to toe in black, he doesn’t venture onto the island but leads a select committee-esque debate about the ethics of letting the dinosaurs survive.
This rich vein of ethical chat gave the first Jurassic Park an interesting moralistic slant, so it’s to this film’s credit that the Malcolm character has, like the extinct dinosaurs he thinks should be left to roam the planet, been resurrected. It also stops the franchise from becoming too ‘by the numbers’ and formulaic, as Steven Spielberg found to his discredit when he directed the dull Jurassic Park 2. (NB: The last shot in the film has the Velociraptor called Blue surveying its new hunting ground: a suburban estate).
British character actor Toby Jones puts in appearance, gloriously be-wigged, be-accented and be-toothed as a vulgar, Trumpian ‘auctioneer’ who leads the sale of the dinosaurs with lascivious glee, his gavel slamming down on the lectern in time with a dinosaur who is breaking free of his basement confines. It’s like a Brontosaurus Bargain Hunt.
Everything falls apart at the seams in Fallen Kingdom, from the disaster stricken Isla Nublar to James Cromwell’s plush mansion, a mini Palace of Versaille in the Californian woods, where the dinosaurs face imprisonment, enslavement and torture.
A long since dormant volcano literally rips the island apart as Howard and Pratt try to rescue the animals, leading director Bayona and his various unit crews to stage an unimpeachably spectacular action sequence. As all manner of lava and hell explodes around them, there is a thrilling dino-stampede and a gripping ‘trapped underwater’ scene that will have you, quite literally, edging to the last micrometre of your cinema seat. It also ends very movingly; Jurassic films are more adept at making you identify emotionally with fictional, genetically resurrected creatures than the horrible, self-serving humans around them.
Part of what made Jurassic World such a joy was its great sense of humour, especially in the playing of the two estimable and well-matched leading actors Howard and Pratt. The producers for this sequel are to be applauded for putting Howard in sensible shoes so we are spared the ridiculous spectacle of her dashing between fern and thicket in stilettos. But now their spiky, sassy, sexy characters are pruned back to just average love interests bickering about who dumped who so the audience misses out on a heap of fun.
Still, credit to Bayona (who casts his frequent actress Geraldine Chaplin in a tiny, bird-like role as a twittering Nanny) who marshal his forces and turns out a thrilling rollercoaster ride. See it, enjoy it, then repeat when part 3 hits the screens (slated for 2021, folks).
Cast & credits
Director: J.A. Bayona. 2hr 8 mins (128mins). Amblin Pictures/Apaches Entertainment/Legendary Entertainment/Perfect World Pictures/Universal Pictures. (12a).
Producers: Belen Atienza, Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall.
Writers: Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly.
Camera: Oscar Faura.
Music: Michael Giacchino.
Sets: Andy Nicholson.
Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Ted Levine, Jeff Goldblum, Toby Jones, James Cromwell, B.D. Wong, Rafe Spall, Daniella Pineda, Justice Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Isabella Sermon.