Jurassic World was the sequel in a franchise that began with one of the most beloved films of all time. That movie was underwhelming as the it failed to craft an engaging narrative. Featuring poorly written characters, Colin Trevorrow’s dino-epic brought nothing new to the franchise and was ultimately fueled by nostalgia. The sequel to that film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, has the same problems as its predecessor, made even more painful by all the potential it squanders.
Fallen Kingdom brings audiences back to Isla Nublar as the island is facing a violent volcanic eruption that threatens the existence of the world’s dinosaur population. The largely uninteresting and forgettable characters from Jurassic World must return to he islands to prevent another extinction level event for these prehistoric reptiles. Also, someone is developing another super-dinosaur because that seems to be this franchise’s new gimmick.
As mentioned earlier, the characters who return from the previous film were poorly written then and they are just as poorly written in Fallen Kingdom. They have no interesting defining traits, no character arc and are so dull that it can be difficult to remember their names. Owen, Claire and… the others, were largely incidental to the story. The movie is about killer dinosaurs and the human characters are there so the film isn’t just CGI creations. The best character by far is Ian Malcom, who was essentially given a glorified cameo. Seeing Goldblum return to the Jurassic Park Universe was the best part of this mess of a film. I would love to write about the other performances, but they are unremarkable. Despite having some talented actors, the script offers them little to no moments where they can shine.
The film is largely a rehash of its predecessor in the second and third acts, with the over-all structure of the narrative being very similar to The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Some new and interesting ideas are presented that would have made a great new focus for the franchise, pushing the narrative of Jurassic Park to new heights – if handled correctly. The issue with these new concepts is that Fallen Kingdom only touches on these elements briefly and instead focuses on a generic plot that feels like a mishmash of earlier movies.
Another way in which the film retreads the past is the choice in antagonist, as the horrific genetic nightmare from Jurassic World returns in a more compact form. Seriously, it is the exact same creature as the Indominus Rex because Fallen Kingdom refuses to add any new features to its main attraction. The Indoraptor is terrifying and visually interesting, but the given role in the narrative never allows it to become as intimidating as its larger sibling.
Beyond taking the plot structure from another Jurassic Park film, this movie’s biggest sin was nostalgia as there are far too many call-backs to the 1993 classic. They are cute at first, but after the first hour Fallen Kingdom makes it apparent that all they have interest in doing is exploring previously seen moments and old story ideas. The other problem with Fallen Kingdom’s use of nostalgia is it tries to recreate the wonder that Spielberg’s classic blockbuster instilled in audiences, but this is difficult to do when Universal’s produced four other movies. Dinosaurs are cool, but once you have made four films about the subject, there has to be something new which can solicit that feeling of awe.
The film starts with a nice, brisk pace and has an even quicker climax, but the middle section of Fallen Kingdom drags. Act 2 comes off as very dull with little occurring in that time to gauge any interest. This is because the second act of the story largely relies on its characters, who are too poorly written to carry that middle portion of the film. Unless a dinosaur is killing – or trying to kill – something on screen, Fallen Kingdom is a dud.
Where this film does succeed is the visuals because Fallen Kingdom looks good. The dinosaurs are well rendered and the story cleverly uses different dinosaur’s specific attributes for its story. However, until these magnificent creatures can talk, this element of Fallen Kingdom can only go so far. Bayona’s direction is solid, Michael Giacchino’s score is riveting and the cinematography is quite good, but it cannot cover up an uninventive plot and simplistic characters.
The one promising thing about this film is the potential sequel it sets up, but after two unpleasant offerings is there any real chance this franchise will finally produce a good sequel? Jurassic Park has proved four times now that you can’t make a good sequel to that original masterpiece. Perhaps it is time for Universal to stop trying.
In summary this film offers cool explosions and some great CGI dinosaurs, but it is lacking in plot, depth or any real significance. A good movie to watch if you are bored and have nothing else to do that day.