Watching the last Jurassic World in 2015 was special. There hadn’t been any films in the Jurassic Park franchise since JP3 in 2001, and that one didn’t really count anyway. Hearing the music again, seeing the dino’s, being back in the park, all special. The latest instalment of the JP franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was already on a slide from the first because it didn’t have any of this ‘special’-ness going for it, but I had to let that go (and you should too) before I sat down to watch it. Never the less, I was excited, and I wasn’t disappointed… ish.
Isla Nublar, the island that houses the remaining dinosaurs from the devastated Jurassic World Theme Park, is on the brink of complete destruction thanks to a now not-so-dormant Volcano. The world is divided; do we attempt to save these animals we created, or leave them to become extinct… Again. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the leader of an activist group, determined to save as many dinosaurs as they can. She gets a call from a wealthy investor, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a former partner, and Jurassic Park founder alongside John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). He wants to save them, and has the money and the facilities to do so. His young business CEO Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) takes charge of the operation, but has a different idea, save the dinosaurs, yes, but sell them as weapons to the highest bidders. After being duped by Eli, Claire agrees to travel to the island with her team to help track 11 different species of dino, most importantly, Blue, the last living Velociraptor. Needing help reigning Blue in, Claire enlists the services, yet again, of Owen (Chris Pratt) and they travel to the island under the idea they are there to save as many dinosaurs as possible from extinction. Eventually, plans go awry, they figure out the nature of Eli’s mission and become hell bent on stopping it.
The opening scenes are awesome. They’re epic, dramatic, scary, nerve racking, everything needed to kick off a JP film. I think it might have been the first time we see the T-Rex so early on in the film too, which took the edge off any further T-Rex reveal later on the film. Either way, these scenes set up the film really nicely and I found myself squeeing at the re-appearance of the Mosasaurus (such a shame you don’t see this dino again UNTIL LITERALLY THE VERY FINAL MOMENTS OF THE FILM, WHY?!).
Jurassic Park films are constant, something initiates the story, the storm in the first one, the Indominus Rex escaping in JW and now its the betrayal of Eli and the dino’s being sold into slavery in Fallen Kingdom. From there, the story moves swiftly over a short period of time, there’s no long breaks for the characters to re-group, no lapse in time. In the first film, the story basically unfolds over 2 days at a push. The second is maybe a little longer, and the third the same. Jurassic World is probably over a matter of hours, and Fallen Kingdom follows suit, so it had that ‘must (go faster) continue with action’ urgency like the others. This was all good.
What it lacked was the big theme tune moment. There was a perfect scene, where the Palaeontology Veterinarian (yes, thats a thing now) Zia (Daniella Pineda) saw a real life dinosaur for the very first time. After the characters have arrived back on the island, they hear the rumble of what sounds like the T-Rex. But it isn’t, its a Brachiosaurs/ ‘like a big cow’ dino/’long neck’ from Land Before time. And just like in the very first film, all the characters get out of the van and look up in amazement at this giant creature. But the music doesn’t quite kick in like it should have. That could have been THE moment, but it was missed.
We learn quite quickly after this point that Eli’s a bad guy, the missions lie etc. etc. The badies capture Blue and leave Claire and Owen to die on the island thats rapidly starting to implode.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I have loved dinosaurs since being kid, in particular, the ‘long necks’. They murdered a tonne of them in Jurassic World, and decided to give one lonely ‘long neck’ a slow, painful death in Fallen Kingdom. As Claire and Own make it onto the boat to escape the Volcano, they look back at the island erupting into lava and ash as one lonely Brachiosaurus walks solemnly to the dock, (I swear it mouthes the words “please, don’t leave me”) and then proceeds to be engulfed in fire and smoke as it slowly falls to the ground. Honestly, I’m still haunted by that moment. I can usually hold it together in the cinema, but for that scene, I just could not. Actually, full blown crying. I cried after the film just thinking about it, and honestly, I’m tearing up a bit now…. So Thanks, Jurassic World writers, for that.
Thats one thing that seems to be more of a focus in the JW films, compared to the originals, they really make an effort to get you emotionally connected to the dinosaurs, be it sadness, empathy, or just plain horror. Previously, I’d argue you were only really made to care about the T-Rex and be scared of the Raptors. Now theres Blue, the long necks (for me at least) and the T-Rex who pull on the heart strings, and the new genetically modified, scary dinosaurs. In Fallen Kingdom, this is the new IndoRaptor, whose purpose seems somewhat contrived.
By the point you see the genetically modified Raptor, the films almost over. We’re back in the USA at Lockwoods estate with a shit load of dinosaurs being sold for millions to war criminals, and the Indo is revealed as a prototype, created by, non other than, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong). But things go wrong, as usual, and the Indo escapes and proceeds to stalk Lockwoods Grandaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon) around his estate. This does make for some really scary scenes, echoing the kitchen chase between Lex (Ariana Richards), Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and the Velociraptor from Jurassic Park. However, the Indo’s alive for about 3 minutes before Owen, Claire and Blue work together to kill it. Yep.
This leads nicely onto the other unnecessary story line, Maisie, Lockwoods Granddaughter. Weirdly, with no real explanation, Maisie is suspiciously trying to catch a glimpse at a picture of her deceased mother, but never gets to. At the end of the film, you actually discover that Maisie is a clone of Lockwoods daughter, who tragically died, and is not his biological Grandchild. This being the reason that Lockwood and Hammond parted ways, Lockwood wanted to use the technology they’d developed to bring his daughter back to life. Maisie realises this just as Eli murders her Grandfather, so she runs, trying to escape Eli’s grasp. Thankfully, she bumps into Claire and Owen, and they live happily ever after of course. They just didn’t need this plot twist. It tipped the film too far over to sci-fi rather, when its usually deeply rooted in action/adventure. There’s a moment at the end of the film where Claire and Owen have to decide whether to let the dinosaurs currently being housed in Lockwoods basement/ dungeon out into the world, or let them die as the basement is about to explode (obviously). Claire decides not to let them out, but there was no way we were about to see the death of all those dinosaurs, and essentially, the death of Jurassic Park… Maisie sets them free, because, just like her, they’re real, despite being genetically created. Maybe the writers felt like this was the only way they could justify the ending to the film, I don’t know, it just seemed contrived as well. I didn’t want the dino’s to die, so for me they could have just set them free to maim and murder the human race, but apparently, I’m an emotional mess when it comes to the deaths of fake, on screen dinosaurs…
Despite the unnecessary and somewhat contrived storylines, despite tipping over into sci-fi a little too much, I enjoyed Fallen Kingdom. Its a good edition to the franchise, the main story line works in the overall scheme of things, and its epic, dramatic, emotional and fun. It doesn’t look like reviews are currently that positive, but if you’re a fan of this franchise, you’ll be able to let go of the silly bits and hold on to things you already love about Jurassic Park.
Do let me know if you cried too, I’d be relieved to know I’m not the only one, OK? Thanks.