With each new installment in the Jurassic franchise, the stitched together genetic monstrous creations built by the hands and twisted minds that think them up become bigger, meaner, scarier, and have more teeth than we humans would feel comfortable being around with. What started out as reconstruction cloning from fossilized mosquito amber has morphed into transgenic splicing of different animals from a variety of habitats to create an apex predator. You would think with so many failed attempts at playing god, those within the means would take the loss and move on with their lives and do good with their intelligence and amassed wealth.
Wrong – if this saga has taught us anything it’s that the humans will continue to remain predictable. Instead of solving the crisis created by John Hammond, and brought to fruition by Simon Masrani, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) and InGen only care about the next profitable species. All for the potential of the highest payout from the wealthiest bidder.
Following in the giant footprint sized hole that The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 left, which isn’t saying much after how each disappointed in succeeding the original in 1993, the newest chapter brings the human characters greed for capitalistic gain off the remote island called Isla Nublar and into a civilized location – plenty of corralled flesh for these dinosaurs’ appetites.
If the events of Jurassic World proved anything it’s that these creations cannot be held in captivity for prolonged periods of time. Something can and will go wrong – Whether it’s from human error or human assistance, it has been the case with every film up to Fallen Kingdom and will continue well after. The more we try and control the situation and pretend everything is running according to plan, then an Indominus Rex comes along and proves how stupid humans are – able to hide a heat signature and camouflage itself to bankrupt several of the world’s biggest corporations and wealthiest individuals.
Every life form has a price tag in this universe.
But the humans still can’t take no for an answer. Dr. Henry Wu won’t give up this pipe dream. Indominus’ death at the teeth ratio of a T-Rex, the Mosasaurus and the last surviving velociraptor named Blue unknowingly creates an even deadlier version of itself when the abandoned Isla Nublar is raided by mercenaries. Named an Indoraptor, part velociraptor part Indominus part whatever other species is on board, this quote unquote weaponized dinosaur is being put up for auction on the black market. The indoraptor will become a countries greatest asset – on the brink of another man-made catastrophe.
Former career driven operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is now a dinosaur rights activist who has her own foundation in saving the remaining species from a volcanic eruption on Isla Nublar that could decimate the island. In her hunt for as many political allies that she can get, a call comes in from the Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) estate, Hammond’s former partner in cloning dinosaur DNA, and the operator of the estate Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) to save as many species as possible. Emphasis placed on saving Blue, the last surviving raptor with the help of former handler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt).
Written by Colin Trevorrow, the previous films director and Derek Connolly, Fallen Kingdom plays it safe with the title that was chosen. More like ‘Jurassic Bunker’, the story takes place centrally in enclosed spaces. Dinosaurs are captured on Isla Nublar leaving the remaining plus Owen, Claire, and IT tech Franklin (Justice Smith) stranded and left for dead by the explosion. As the camera watches from a distance, the extinction of dinosaurs became a reality by witnessing a silhouette of a brachiosaurus trapped on an island as fire is raining from the sky. It’s this sequence that stands out as the most memorable in this Jurassic drama while the frightening element is saved till the very end.
Where Jurassic Park succeeded in terrifying the viewers and human characters to walk anywhere, constantly looking over their shoulders as the next step could be the last has been absent in the films that followed it. Jurassic World’s most terrifying moment fleets by in the blink of an eye. Indominus camouflages herself only to trample the one trying to tranquilize her. Fallen Kingdom saves the kitchen scene from Park till the very end – After the indorapter is set free from the cage and locks target on Owen and Maisie (Isabella Sermon) the predator/prey element that this new trilogy is sorely lacking comes back in a sequence for survival. It’s the stillness and silence that raises the tension in the atmosphere – one sound and the indorapter will strike. Only by luck will any of these characters survive.
Getting to that sequence is more of a slog than actual excitement – sitting through a bidding war for these animals is not what Hammond nor newcomer to the films Lockwood had in mind when cloning these formerly extinct creatures. 2 major dino sequences aside, the returning cast of Pratt and Howard pick up right where they left off – unsure of themselves and their relationship. Sticking together to survive is no more. Through near death experiences can this couple actually work things out. Its newcomers like paleo-veterinarian Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Maisie that form an emotional connective tissue to this story. While the human villain Eli doesn’t add much depth to his villainous ways.
Toby Jones as the auctioneer can do no wrong in my book.
Though minor inclusions in World, the nostalgia factor has worn off – the only remaining nostalgia piece to get attached to is Michael Giacchino’s score that features John Williams legendary theme from the original 1993 film. Beyond that, Fallen Kingdom is a middle movie with the only purpose being to get to the next one – adding nothing to the franchise that hasn’t been done before. What director J. A Bayona did with that Isla Nublar sequence is forgotten as soon as its finished. Fallen Kingdom could have been remarkable if leaned more into the themes set up in the previous film.
Written By: Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow
Directed By: J. A. Bayona
Music By: Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: Óscar Faura
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, BD Wong, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Isabella Sermon, Jeff Goldblum
Release Date: June 22, 2018
Running Time: 2 Hours 9 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%
Based On: Characters by Michael Crichton