By: Aaron C. Ramirez
“Life will find a way,” is the theme to the Jurassic Park series, new and old. “Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom” came out on June 22, 2018. With four movies already under the franchise’s belt, can the latest one hold up to its predecessors and continue to push the franchise forward? Yes. Is it a fun, entertaining, and exciting movie? Yes. Is it trite, rehashing tropes, and lazy writing? Yes.
The movie’s overall energy feels like a callback between Spielberg iconic Indiana Jones and b-movie hero King Kong. Following the demise of Jurassic World in the previous installment, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) has become an activist for her giant lizard friends. A volcano on Isla Nublar is threatening the home of the dinosaurs with re-extinction.
This is where some of the lazy writing occurs. For the sake of story Claire conveniently works with a paleo-veterinarian and a computer nerd (Daniella Pineda and Justice Smith). The two wear glasses just to prove how smart they are, and the trio are commissioned to “The Land Before Time.” To round out their trusty squad Claire sets out to get back I-have-a-contract, Chris Pratt doing his very best Indiana Jones impression. The four are entertaining and have chemistry. We want to root for these four, but as smart as they are they can’t smell a double cross coming when the audience can.
The lazy writing can be excusable because the audience wants to see dinosaurs and getting the characters there is accomplished easily. Once on the island a whole new disaster adventure movie occurs. the volcano on Isla Nublar wants to change the land into Pompeii presenting many obstacles for our heroes, and the movie begins to feel like a disaster movie of the 1970’s. Melodramatic moments as the lava pours from the earth and sky.
The unfortunate part is you never feel the heroes are ever in real danger, and the movie gods are controlling falling lava debris, gifting Aquaman lungs, and mad crawling skills. As the first act winds down, it becomes clear that we weren’t supposed to feel for our Dino Squad, but for the plight of the dinosaurs. With an homage to the original the cast leaves the island saying goodbye to Littlefoot and his friends.
The second half takes an intended tonal shift. More secrets are brought forth involving one main character. Another new created dinosaur is showcased and runs rampant causing chaos to a castle in the California cliffs. With a strong tonal shift between acts, this movie feels a lot like “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” but better. The Original sequel fell into one gimmick after another, yet “Fallen Kingdom” becomes a high octane slasher movie where dinosaurs can be smart and even open the doors. That’s where some of the problems come in. At points it’s never clear what stance the movie wants to take on dinosaurs. The first half of the movie treats these creatures as animals, but then the second half becomes a fight to survive against the monsters.
“Fallen Kingdom” makes a solidly entertaining sequel. There are homages aplenty to eagle eye viewers. The visuals are splendid with panning shots of the island and the castle settings. The opening itself is nails biting and worthy of being considered one of the best in series. The villains are bland and carbon copies from past “The Lost World.” They serve as people to find a ruthless end to their greed and achieve a PG-13 rating without guilt. Each villain is systematically dispatched as they get their comeuppance. One of their lives comes to an end with not just one dinosaur but three.
It seems writer, Colin Trevorrow wanted to “Fallen Kingdom’s” wanted to force feed the theme to the audience stating, ”The first film was very clearly about corporate greed. This is just about human greed.”
He must have missed the irony of his comments and the Hollywood machine. Greed as a theme comes through by the end of the movie and off of the screen. Plan to see the third part of Jurassic World in 2021. B-