Erik Jimenez/Staff Writer
I think it’s safe to say the original Jurassic Park is one of the greatest blockbusters of all time, and revolutionized the movie scene when it came out 25 years ago thanks to it’s astounding visual effects, iconic score and landmark directing from director Steven Spielberg.
Throughout its multiple sequels, many have tried to replicate and recreate the magic of the first film and all have failed. Growing up a massive fan of the original film and it’s two sequels, I was excited when Colin Trevorrow brought back the series in 2015 with “Jurassic World” after the series took a 14-year hiatus. And since everyone rushed to see that movie, making it a cultural phenomenon and box-office juggernaut surpassing the first, we have “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” to satisfy those who haven’t realized that the franchise ran out of gas a long time ago.
Three years after the Indominus Rex incident that ruined “Jurassic World,” the island that hosts the park is about to be destroyed by the island’s long dormant volcano, which would kill off the planet’s last living dinosaurs. Jurassic World’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), has created the Dinosaur Protection Group to save the dinosaurs.
But when the U.S. government rejects their rescue, Dearing is contacted by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), John Hammond’s former partner and Lockwood’s aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). They plan to move the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary, but Mills is concerned that locating Blue, the last living Velociraptor, will be difficult, so Claire recruits Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Jurassic World’s former Velociraptor trainer, to join the mission. But once they get on the island, Owen and Claire learn this dinosaur rescue operation has a more sinister agenda behind it.
Colin Trevorrow is not in the director’s chair for this installment, but he is producing and writing the film alongside his fellow co-writer Derek Connolly. Instead J.A. Bayona, of “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible” fame, takes the helm and as a result, whatever else you say about the movie, it is the best-looking film in the franchise to date. Not on a visual effects level (that will always be the original) but on a cinematography level as well.
Without giving everything away, the second half of the film takes place at the Lockwood Estate at night, and it’s here where Bayona gets to shine. In fact, the second half of the film is the best part due to it being so visually different from the other “Jurassic Park” films. We rarely see dinosaurs on the mainland and when they are it’s never in an environment like this. Consequently, the climax of the film feels more suspenseful, dark, claustrophobic, and even has a gothic element to it. It’s easily the best climax in the franchise yet.
If only the rest of the film were like that, though. Aside from the widely talked about volcano action scene and another scene when they leave the island, which is a total gut punch, the rest of the film is dragged down by the idiotic actions of many of the characters.
Nearly every action in the film that results in a negative for the characters are almost always due to previous actions. Which is a shame because some of Owen and Claire’s friend are unbearable to the point that I was rooting for them to get eaten. Justice Smith and Danielle Pineda play two of Claire’s millennial colleagues, and not only is there acting terrible, but the characters contribute almost nothing to the overall film except to annoy the audience in the form of humor that creators somehow thought was funny.
Despite being a mixed bag like it’s predecessor, there is still a chance that the third (and possibly final) film in this new trilogy has a chance to take this franchise to a whole new direction. And for Jurassic Park fans, that may be enough to give this new trilogy a try. Also, Chris Pratt is in it and he’s great. Mainly due to him being Chris Pratt, who can make any scene at least bearable just by his presence.
2 ½ stars out of 5