A renewed fanbase and all the money in the word can’t hold together this Jurassic mess.
Fallen Kingdom sees us return once more to the now volcanically active Isla Nublar, threatening to wipe out it’s dinosaur inhabitants who’ve lived an isolated existence since the park was abandoned several years previously. Experts Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are recruited to rescue the dinosaurs by heir to the Jurassic throne, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) and his mentor Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a partner in the original Jurassic Park venture. Legacies are formed and twisted as the world begins to adjust to a new era.
If Fallen Kingdom was able to deliver on this and this alone then we’d at least have a suitably developed sequel and a genuinely interesting story to look forward to concluding in 2021. Instead, a mess of a script, devoid of any characteristics that made the original series so successful was thrown together, glossing over the interesting points and forgetting its roots entirely.
Jurassic Park had the impact of realistic dinosaurs and razor sharp tension on its side, Jurassic World had the suspension and reveal of the indominus rex which wreaked havoc across the new park. What Fallen Kingdom has is two half-baked plots that sashay toward each other with no real highs or lows, a consistently lacklustre story that bubbles under the surface toward a vaguely satisfactory ending. Fallen Kingdom‘s almost complete lack of tension is stark and a missing ingredient to say the least, as the fates of Lockwood’s estate and Isla Nublar reach a fairly boring climax.
Far too little time is spent on the interesting aspects of this new dinosaur age. The film opens on a promising note of government and social debate as to whether or not mankind should even intervene in this “course correction” by God, only to swiftly jerk away and put boots on the ground with a horribly mis-cast Ted Levine as head of the evacuation. The granddaughter of Lockwood is given ample screen time but almost nothing of substance until the very end. Quite the opposite for Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who graces the screen for a few fleeting moments and has some of the only words worth hearing in the film.
Only once Fallen Kingdom reaches its final act does it find any form of coherency on par with the rest of the series, but by this point it’s too far gone to really redeem itself. The finale, an inevitable showdown between man and beast is the last in a long list of cliche’d words and actions.
That’s not to say that Fallen Kingdom is overtly terrible, just incredibly muddled and mediocre. Rafe Spall puts on a particularly strong performance as Mills, but for every step forward there are two back, as Toby Jones and James Cromwell both seem to be there to pick up a cheque and very little else. Michael Giacchino continues to prove he is a worthy successor to John Williams, but the mad-lib storyline and fairly uninspired acting, (even from lead Chris Pratt) give him very little to work with.
As usual with such an “event film”, the production value is fantastic. That much cannot be denied. The set pieces and special effects are as convincing as they could possibly be, but to the tune of $375m, this is the least that should be expected. The writers should’ve taken a leaf out of Planet of the Apes‘ book and aimed for a plot with a bit more depth as it reached parts two and three. Instead, much like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Fallen Kingdom has failed at the second hurdle and has a lot of work to do before the final instalment of the trilogy comes around.