Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (aka Jurassic Park 5) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
I adored Jurassic World for how brilliantly it wove those familiar dinosaur thrills when I was a kid, bringing a nostalgic wave of Jurassic Park giddiness. I’m now frustrated with Fallen Kingdom for similar reasons, returning to the same old flaws with a disappointing sensation of old wounds reopened. Despite a handful of entertaining set pieces, this sequel ultimately succumbs to the failures of all rushed properties, slinging too much on the screen without much sticking for being a big and brainless blockbuster.
The problem stems from too many cans of worms being popped off in the wake of the massacre at the Jurassic World island. The government is so inept about how to handle the disaster that they merely shrug their shoulders and nod when presented with the option of letting nature run its course as a volcano threatens the park. That solution won’t stand for a dinosaur liberation group, now headed by former park organizer Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). She wants to save the dinosaurs and she’s not the only one. Doctor Owen (Chris Pratt) still has a thing for the raptor Blue, even more than the forced romance between him and Claire, that he’s willing to risk searching a dangerous island to find his old scaly friend. And there’s the evil industrialist Mr. Mills (Rafe Spall) that wants to make a mint off the dinos, so much so that he wants to sell them off to investors. The mercenary along for the ride, played by Ted Levine, is mostly just interested in dino teeth in between shooting at them.
If the film had just been about the return to the dinosaur-infested island, akin to braving a post-apocalyptic world on the verge of another apocalypse, it would have been fun. And for the half-hour we spend on the island, it is fun. Chris Pratt narrowly avoids being engulfed by encroaching lava and Bryce Dallas Howard finds herself trapped in a lava-flooding room with an angry dinosaur roaring at her. But all this happens so fast we’re hardly left a moment to mourn the tearful sight of a giant herbivore being consumed by flame.
It’s when the film diverts location to a mansion built for housing dinosaurs that film turns nutty, both in visuals and with too many plots. Mr. Mills has reformatted the basement of Dr. Hammond’s former associate into a compound for prehistoric creatures to be auctioned. And while the idea of dinosaurs rampaging about a large interior on a stormy night is brilliant staging for a more rugged horror movie style, it’s hampered by too much else happening. There’s a new hybrid dinosaur on the block, and he’s only slightly more intelligent than the previous one. There’s a bitter questioning for Claire about deciding what to do with all these creatures when all is said and done. And there’s even a cloned human arc thrown in at the last minute on the off chance that there wasn’t enough going on in this story.
And so I’m left with a Jurassic World sequel that is equally as frustrating as the sequel to Jurassic Park. It loses more simple magic to its adventure, concocts too many arcs that mostly go nowhere, and loses sight of the grand message about man not messing with nature. The story strikes itself with amnesia, trying to restage the romance of Pratt/Howard without any development and contort a more enticing premise for the inevitable sequel. Thus Jurassic Park will once again run that money train into the ground where studio execs will rush to the next blockbuster of the franchise, spending so much time asking if they could they’ll never stop to consider that they should.