Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, BD Wong, James Cromwell, with Jeff Goldblum
Written by: Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Studio: Universal Pictures
Run Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
What’s old is new, again?
!!!POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Right off the bat, I liked Jurassic World. It was a fun, albeit predictable popcorn movie that had its place mixed among the summer movies of 2015. Recently, I discovered my Blu-ray copy of the film and, to my surprise, it was still sealed. Yep, I never went back to Jurassic World. Now with a second Jurassic World (Fallen Kingdom) out, I found myself with little anticipation for the film. Much like the case of Solo: A Star Wars Story, did we really need this film? Yes and no. Before you lies a review of just how middle of the road I am about Jurassic Park V (Jurassic World II).
We’ve treaded on this ground before. Man recreates dinosaurs and wishes to reap the financial rewards. Now this time, our heroes start off with a desire to save those remaining dinosaurs on the Jurassic World island from an active volcano. We get a quick scene with Jeff Goldblum, reprising his role of Ian Malcolm, saying we should let them die. However, the second part of his speech is where the true and interesting part of where the Jurassic Park saga is going next, the technology as to be regulated.
We barely touch on that second part at the beginning of the film, as the adventure, escape, dinosaurs, and awe have to take place. It’s a double cross and our heroes, Owen and Claire (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard), find out that they have been duped and their rescue attempt was nothing more than a money grab at the scientific wonders that the dinosaurs are. What is a dinosaur worth to a medical research lab or a big game hunter? What is the potential to weaponize these creatures? All completely fascinating stuff and worth the discussion. So as Owen and Claire struggle to save what the big corporation has stolen, we are along for the ride all the while the real story off Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom starts to unfold back at a mansion.
That story is the subplot of John Hammond’s one-time business partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). Lockwood wants to preserve the dinosaurs and let them live out there existence (on another island). However, he is hiding something and it is a bit vague, but each scene with him, his granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon), and her nanny (Geraldine Chaplin) hint at a larger story. That story is where the franchise is clearly leading, making Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom a good second act that the first trilogy of films did not have.
So why do I have this humdrum feeling toward the film? Is it because our heroes were so naive as to not see they were being used, that they are too in love with dinosaurs to notice how easily they, the creatures, can be exploited? Yes, but when you look at the state of the world, today, it is easy to see that the most idealistic people are being completed blindsided by the opportunistic ones. It might be better to say that my anger isn’t with the characters, but with the course of the world. Regardless, I felt as if both Claire and Owen should have seen the writing on the wall. Thankfully, the characters eventually do and Jurassic World III (slated for 2021) will wrap up the story that this film successfully lays out.
A sore thumb to the whole film is that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom supplies a lot of humor with its scares. It’s certainly acceptable as this is a summer family movie, despite it being PG-13, but then again, who am I to judge what you take your children to see? Director Juan Antonio Bayona takes the laughs and comedic situations where he can get them when it comes to the dinosaurs and it becomes predictable. Mix that with how easily the humor comes to Christ Pratt delivering his lines and at times Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom feels like a comedy when it should be terrifying us. Yet, are CGI dinosaurs even scary anymore? We know that there some are puppets and animatronics and the technology is getting better all the time, but we know it’s fake so the scares don’t really come. What is scary is the big reveal in this Jurassic Park Saga regarding just how far the technology has come. I won’t spoil that but it does save the film and open a door that makes you want to see where the third film goes next.
Despite the overabundance of jokes, there was actually a truly sad moment and I heard the packed theater gasp. Whether it was the work of screenwriters Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow or director Juan Antonio Bayona, I applaud them for that moment. They reminded the audience of the wonder of Steven Spielberg’s first film and pulled on our heartstrings. That moment alone is still with me and invoked more emotion than anything I have seen from Spielberg since Saving Private Ryan (1998). This is why I am torn on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Is it what's old is new again? Have we stopped caring about the franchise? Can the implications of where it is leading possibly be the bigger conversation that we should all be having? All that is up to you to decide. I, for one, feel as if I need to go back to the Fallen Kingdom one more time.