Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
- Action, action, action.
- Great cast.
- Amazing special effects.
- Lots of dinosaurs.
- Not enough Jeff Goldblum, Daniella Pineda, Ted Levine, or time on the island.
- Too much deus ex machina.
- Inconsistent with the franchise.
- At times, the story felt forced.
- Did I mention not enough Jeff Goldblum?
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Rafe Spall. Directed by J.A. Bayona.
*YE BE WARNED. MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Okay, I’ll preface this piece by saying this: THIS WAS MY MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIE OF THE YEAR. Yes, that’s right. I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan, have been since I read the books and saw the original films. I really enjoyed the first Jurassic World, too. It’s actually my second favorite flick in the entire franchise. So, yes, my expectations were running high for Fallen Kingdom.
Let’s start with the good. Actually, the first forty minutes are a real treat. We start off with an intense opening. A group of mercenaries invade the island in search of the Indominus Rex’s remains, so somebody can use it for nefarious purposes. It’s a great way to kick off the new film. Then we get into what the story is about. Basically, a giant volcano is about to reduce Isla Nublar into molten lava. The dinosaurs are in danger of becoming extinct once again, and the world is up in arms about what to do about it. Our government decides to do nothing. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) gets an opportunity to save the beasts thanks to a bedridden man named Lockwood (James Cromwell), who helped John Hammond create dinosaur history prior to the inception of the first park. Meanwhile, a man named Mills (Rafe Spall), Lockwood’s entrusted caretaker, has other plans; those plans include rescuing 11 species, only to have them auctioned off to wealthy war criminals so they can be used in combat. But what they want most is Blue, the velociraptor from the first JW film, and in order to do so, they need Owen (Chris Pratt). Owen’s not too keen on returning to the island, in fact, he thinks letting them die is actually a pretty good idea. But Claire convinces him otherwise, and so, he – along with newcomers Franklin and Zia – comes along for the ride.
Once on the island, things go very wrong, very fast. The volcano becomes very active, very quickly, turning their entire rescue mission into a twenty-minute, heart-thumping chase scene where the characters are running from molten lava, herds of frantic dinosaurs, and carnivores who are more keen on snacking on human meat than outrunning the doomy fire storm raining down from the skies.
From there, it all pretty much goes down hill. The dinosaurs are taken back to the mainland, to Lockwood’s mansion in the middle of nowhere, where the bad guy’s plot goes awry, the dinosaurs break free, and chaos reigns supreme. Pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from the franchise.
There were a lot of issues with this movie that prevented me from enjoying it. Weak plot and underdeveloped characters aside (Zia should have had waaaaay more screen time), the audience is forced to endure some poor filmmaking, inconsistent screenwriting, and more deus ex machina than I could personally stomach. I mean, seriously – how many times can a T-Rex come out of nowhere and save the day? In one scene, Chris Pratt wakes up, after being knocked unconscious, to a Triceratops licking his face. Once the Triceratops leaves the scene, Pratt tries to move around, but he’s still kind of paralyzed. In a blink – one same location jump cut – the entire jungle is on fire around him and there is lava creeping towards him. Not sure how all that happened in a nanosecond, but it did. Now, I’ve never been in the midst of a volcanic eruption, but I’m pretty sure rivers of molten lava don’t appear out of thin air. I could be wrong.
I didn’t mind the direction of the story. I actually thought the plot they came up with was kind of neat, and they did a good job of avoiding the whole this-looks-like-THE-LOST-WORLD-all-over-again label, an opinion that circled the Internet when the teaser trailer first came out. None of that bothered me. It was the way the entire movie unfolded, how the characters escaped death; not by their own devices, but by mere chance and the whim of lazy scriptwriters. A good film should make the audience feel as if there were no screenwriters, filmmakers, or actors behind it all – that’s where Fallen Kingdom is fundamentally flawed.
All in all, if you’re a fan of the franchise, you should still watch it. At times, it’s a fun flick with plenty of action and stunning visuals. But if you’re expecting a well-made film with lots of repeat value… I can’t promise you that that’s what you’ll experience.
(Yes, there is a scene after the credits, so if that’s of interest to you, then stick around.)
Final judgement: 4 volcanic eruptions out of 10.
Tim Meyer dwells in a dark cave near the Jersey Shore. He’s an author, husband, father, podcast host, blogger, coffee connoisseur, beer enthusiast, and explorer of worlds. He writes horror, mysteries, science fiction, and thrillers, although he prefers to blur genres and let the stories fall where they may. You can also listen to his movie podcast, APERTURE HOUR, from the Project Entertainment Network.