ATTENTION – SPOILERS AHEAD; PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!!
The first Jurassic Park is a classic, no question. It’s timeless and one of my favourite films of all time. The effects haven’t aged at all and the story is enthralling, even on the 100th re-watch. The franchise started in 1994 and now in 2018 the fifth film has been released and was eagerly awaited. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom tries to be many things. It wants to be an action-adventure, then it attempts horror, and because of this it falls flat in some aspects. It comes across as two separate films mashed together to make one. Tonally, it is a bit of a mess, but it makes up for this with some well-executed set pieces, some beautiful cinematography and an unexpected twist in the third act.
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return to reprise their roles of Owen and Claire from the first Jurassic World and their relationship in this second film mirrors their relationship from the first, there’s nothing new to it. It screams of been-here-seen-this. It would’ve been interesting to have explored how the events of Jurassic World affected them as a couple rather than just jumping to the conclusion that they had broken up again. Chris Pratt brings some humour to the movie, particularly in the first act where he is rolling around on the floor after being tranquilised. However, it seems out of place for a Jurassic movie, I was laughing a lot at this moment and it just felt a bit weird to be doing so in this film. The human villain of the movie Eli Mills, played by Rafe Spall is a typical generic baddie. His dastardly plan to sell the rescued dinosaurs to a pantomime collection of buyers is as transparent as glass when hidden behind the veil of sending them to a safe sanctuary. He meets his demise at the end of the film when the T-Rex somehow manages to sneak up on him and shares him with a Carnotaurus, like a tear’n’share garlic bread. How the T-Rex silently creeps up on Mills is beyond me. Throughout the franchise, much has been made about the distinctive noise the T-Rex makes when it moves around, the vibrating water in the first Jurassic Park is a scene that still resonates with me now. So, how come Rexy manages to tip-toe up to Mills and grab him without Eli or the Carnotaurus noticing? I’m going to put it down to movie magic and move on.
The other, non-human villain, the Indoraptor is sadly underused in this film. By the time it is introduced the movie is at, if not past, the half-way point which doesn’t give the audience enough time to truly realise the menacing nature of the beast. Yes, it is a terrible abomination that is incredibly dangerous, but when compared to the Indominus Rex from Jurassic World it just doesn’t carry the same threat. It is dubbed as the best predator that ever roamed the earth, yet the evidence suggests that it should’ve been labelled as “one of the best”. For example, even with its heightened sense of smell, it failed to sniff out Chris Pratt and Co who were hiding just metres away, bear in mind that Pratt’s character hadn’t showered for at least a couple of days and had done a lot of running in-between. Although, the Indoraptor in Fallen Kingdom is a prototype, the expedition to Isla Sorna’s main objective was to retrieve Blue; the velociraptor that Owen proved could be trained. The immoral scientists that Mills has hired need her DNA in order to make the Indoraptor more receptive to commands. The first half of the movie focuses on this expedition, but feels rushed as they are trying to get to the second half and the Indoraptor before audiences get bored. However, I feel that a compelling story could have been created that centred on the expedition to save Blue and the other dinosaurs on the island. The Indoraptor could have been revealed at the end of the movie in order to set up the sequel.
One way I feel that the Indoraptor would have been used more successfully, is if the entire movie was a horror film, rather than just the second half. For a horror to be effective, suspense needs to be built, which Fallen Kingdom doesn’t do. Like the first half it feels rushed, a result of the mash of genres and this creates a bizarre tone, as if the film doesn’t really know what it wants to do. With some clarity, and a slowly crafted, suspenseful atmosphere, the Indoraptor would be the ultimate villain, reminiscent of the Xenomorph in the first Alien movie.
The movie raises some interesting ethical questions, such as, should a group of de-extinct creatures that have been created through science and threatened with a second extinction be saved? This is something that could be debated about for years to come, and would mean that this article would be longer than an unabridged version of War and Peace. It also asks what the world would be like if these dinosaurs had to co-exist alongside humans. Clearly, this wouldn’t be a brilliant idea, it’s bad enough when a lion, jaguar or bear escapes from a zoo; imagine what would happen if a T-Rex was roaming around the local forest. Dr Ian Malcolm, played by the returning Jeff Goldblum, explains that despite the benefits that the creation of dinosaurs had on science, we as a species risk pushing the boundaries too far, and we might lose control of this growth. I believe this is the direction that the franchise is heading. Colin Trevorrow, director of the first Jurassic World, has said that the next film will not involve genetic hybrid dinosaurs, which I feel is a good move as they risk over-doing hybrid’s and losing audience interest. The question of human cloning is raised, and I feel that they will explore this more in the next film as it opens up new avenues for possible story threads.
There are some beautiful shots in the film. One that stands out occurs when the expedition is leaving the island in a large freight ship as the volcano erupts and covers Isla Sorna in smoke, dust and an orange hue. A Brachiosaurus is seen walking down the dock as it is engulfed in smoke, with its outline is illuminated by the lava. It is a very poignant moment, and also arrives at a point in the film when the tone begins to change.
Overall, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was a good, entertaining film. It felt like it was trying to take some risks in regards to genre and with some more bravery this might have paid more dividends and the movie would have been a more unique entry to the franchise. The Thing Is, a Jurassic Park film at its core is reliant on dinosaurs. They are the real stars, trying to make a Jurassic film a predominantly human centric story wouldn’t work, the dinosaurs need to be centre stage. Although, I feel that taking risks in regards to genre will bring some new impetus to the franchise and will stop any future films re-treading ground that previous movies have taken. In a world where franchises such as the MCU, and even Star Wars, are taking more and more risks in relation to stylistic choices and hiring relatively unknown directors, Jurassic World will have to do something similar or risk going extinct like its main attraction.