When Universal Studios decided to bring back the Jurassic Park franchise from its long dormant sleep several years ago, fans were skeptical about how good it was going to be. I was one of those people and, while Jurassic World was enjoyable, it never struck me as something that I would watch over and over again like the first film. Jurassic World did well at the box-office and a sequel was greenlit. Which brings us to today as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the sequel to Jurassic World is upon us. And, like three years ago, I went into the film with trepidation if this was even necessary. And, much like the first Jurassic World, I did find Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom a good movie but nothing great.
Before reading any further and if you’re concerned that I’ll reveal things about the film, such as story elements and such, rest easy as this is a SPOILER FREE review. Yes, I already gave my general thoughts on the film above but I’ll get to the nitty-gritty as to why I think Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is just “fine” while making sure its all SPOILER FREE.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes place three years after the events of the previous film. The Jurassic World theme park has been abandoned after all of the dinosaurs were set free and the island has been left alone. However, the volcano that’s on the island is about to erupt. A seemingly good-natured philanthropist recruits Claire Dearing and Owen Grady, the two protagonists from the first film, to help rescue as many dinosaurs before the volcano wipes out all life on the island. Of course, things aren’t as they seem and the duo get tangled in another adventure with dinosaurs.
Yes, I know the plot description above is rather vague; this is a SPOILER FREE review, after all. Those are the details from the very first trailer, the only trailer I actually watched before watching Fallen Kingdom. I have watched the other trailers after watching the film and, boy, does it spoil a lot of plot details. But I don’t go to a Jurassic Park/World film for the plot. I go to these films for the action and the dinosaurs and you do get a smattering of those in Fallen Kingdom at least. They introduce a couple of more dinosaurs here, which the kid in me, who actually read tons of books about dinosaurs, really loved!
One of the things I really loved about the film was how real all the dinosaurs felt most of the time. Jurassic World already did a good job of this by mixing both practical effects with CGI. I will be honest that there were a few special effects shots where you can tell that they used CGI but most of the time, even the ones where there are hundreds of dinosaurs in the scene, where I actually believed they were really there. It actually made me feel a connection with these creatures.
While I really felt a deep bond with the dinosaurs, I can’t say the same for the human characters, but it’s not because the actors were terrible or anything. Chris Pratt does a good job of portraying Owen Grady, the cocky hero who trained Blue, the velociraptor in the first film. Sure, it feels like a more subdued version of his rendition of Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy but it does work. I was actually incredibly impressed with Bryce Dallas Howard’s ability to cry on cue, which was necessary for the more emotional moments in the film. The rest of the supporting cast do an effective job overall as well.
So, why don’t I feel anything for the humans? It’s because they’re all bland and feel like cookie cutter stereotypes I’ve seen from other films. The cocky hero. The female with a heart of gold. The doting grandfather and her exuberant granddaughter. The cowardly computer guy. The tough talking doctor. The list goes on. None of the characters have any nuance and any personality beyond the caricature they portray. They do an effective job giving a performance that follows the stereotype but it’s just nothing interesting nor memorable in the least.
The action scenes and setpieces don’t help the cause with me liking the humans of Fallen Kingdom as well. One of the things that annoyed me is that the heroes don’t really do anything that heroic. When they’re in a bind, they usually get saved by some deux ex machina involving a dinosaur swooping in to rescue them. It was okay for maybe the first one or two times but it gets old real fast. There are maybe a couple of scenes when the heroes actually get themselves out of a sticky situation but it’s mostly the dinos that do most of the heavy lifting. It’s almost as if the writers of Fallen Kingdom wrote in an action setpiece and then they couldn’t figure out how the heroes can get out of it. So they just wrote in “…then dinosaurs appear to save them by accident.” With that being said, I did actually enjoy the action scenes. They are some really tense scenes, which was more akin to the Jurassic Park style of action. There was a part of me that was really worried that they were going to go all bombastic with the action and follow a more “shoot first, ask questions later” style, thankfully.
The biggest problem I have with Fallen Kingdom is actually the plot, as it’s a little too complex for its own good. There’s the story as to why they want to capture Blue. There’s also the bit regarding the bad guy’s reasons for rescuing the dinosaurs. There’s also a short mystery that focuses on the granddaughter. Without spoiling anything, the film kind of jumps around instead of focusing on the important thing, which are the dinosaurs! Fallen Kingdom tries to weave a complex story when it doesn’t need to. It could’ve just told a simple story where humans were being chased by dinosaurs and it would’ve been just fine. I guess these additional plot details didn’t grab me because, as I mentioned before, I cared for the animals more than the people in the film!
All-in-all, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t a terrible movie. When it focuses on the dinosaurs, it’s great but the instant that they try to make us care for the humans, it loses its pizazz. It’s an okay popcorn action film but nothing more.
Have you seen Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!