Movie Review: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” – Definitely Fallen

Written by Jeremiah Greville July 01, 2018

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

When Jurassic World released a couple years ago, it was met with mixed response. Some people loved it, some people hated it, and plenty of others just found it okay. Despite that, the film was a financial success, so here we are with a brand new sequel. The good news is that if you liked the first Jurassic World film, you’ll probably enjoy this one. The bad news is the same — if you hated the first movie, this attempt isn’t much better. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom continues the story of the first film, but in doing so undermines the first film’s existence.

Despite later trailers showing the entire plot, this review will avoid spoilers as much as possible. Still, I will be discussing broad implications with the first and future films, which could give things away. You have been warned.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is directed by J. A. Bayona and stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. They reprise their roles as Owen Grady and Claire Dearing respectively. They’re joined by Justice Smith as Franklin Webb, a hacker, and Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez, a paleoveterinarian, on a journey back to the island from the last film to save the remaining dinosaurs from an imminent volcanic eruption. Toby Jones, James Cromwell, and B. D. Wong all make supporting appearances in the film. And while Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm, it’s little more than a cameo — don’t expect too much.

“You made me come here.”

The first and most confusing thing about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the audience. I don’t mean the members themselves, or their tastes. If you like dinosaur films or enjoyed the last Jurassic World film, then that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with liking movies regardless of quality. What I mean is that I don’t understand the intended audience for this film. The theatre audience I went with was filled with children who loved every dino moment on screen, but the film seemed geared more to older audiences hoping for nostalgia. Every monster moment or action beat was tainted by references and callbacks to the older films. These references were lost on the young kids who got the most out of the experience, and weren’t compelling enough for the older audience who might get them. Who was this film made for?

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

This problem was exacerbated by the fact that the film had a hard time balancing its message, its pacing, and its quality. The action scenes are bloodless (for the kids), yet the plot is full of tough moral questions (for the adults). Those same moral questions are left unexplored and unanswered (for the kids), yet come up constantly whenever the dinosaurs aren’t on screen. At one point a child in my theatre shouted “There they are!” when dinosaurs finally showed up on screen, only to cry a moment later when some dinosaurs died. If this movie is for children, it doesn’t provide enough to entertain them. If this movie is for adults, it doesn’t go far enough to provide a thought-provoking experience. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a movie that gleefully boasts its own mediocrity, and that’s a shame.

“Change is like death…”

It’s a film made by committee in a marketing department, fueled by test screenings to avoid bad press. Take for example the two returning leads from the last film, Pratt and Howard. Critics rightfully pointed out how each was a gender stereotype: the manly jungle hunk, and the uptight no-nonsense business-lady. Instead of changing either character meaningfully, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom just introduces two new characters instead. To balance Pratt’s hyper-masculine Owen, we now have Franklin, the cowardly IT expert. To balance Howard’s negative feminine stereotype, we now have Zia, the hyper-competent super bad-ass dino-doctor. Neither of the new characters has any development either, but at one point Zia is called a ‘Nasty Woman’, so there’s that. See, everyone? They fixed it! Jurassic Park is woke now! You’re welcome, feminists.

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is as artificial as the dinosaurs it features — both as a product of misplaced hubris and as a high-quality CGI fabrication. They spared no expense. Still, it’s hard not to notice at times just how much of the movie is actors running through fake worlds. For every jaw-dropping moment of dino-realism, there’s another that takes you out of the narrative entirely. The effects are great, but nothing we haven’t seen before. If the acting was better, then it might have elevated the film, but Pratt and Howard aren’t given much to work with. Howard only has two damn looks in the entire film, and Pratt is the same, but with a penis attached. He has some of the best one-liners around, but I’m honestly getting a bit sick of seeing him squint his way across the screen of every new action property he’s given.

“We could both use a touch of redemption.”

The film is never bad — just never great. Pratt and Howard are fine, even if they’re one-dimensional. The dinosaurs are entertaining, there’s just not enough done with them. The biggest problems with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are specific to the plot and script, and can’t be discussed without spoiling the whole damn thing. But keeping things broad, I can give you a rough idea. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t really a film on its own. The narrative doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, and it really only exists to get us to the much more interesting sequel. Yes, they specifically hint at a sequel. The thing is, Fallen Kingdom unintentionally invalidates the existence of the first Jurassic World. If this film exists, then you don’t need that one.

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Confused? That’s okay. While Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom directly follows the first Jurassic World, it’s clear by the end that the only intention was to get us to a potential third movie. And because of that, it’s also clear that the first film never needed to exist. Fallen Kingdom and the first Jurassic World should be taken together as one film. If Colin Trevorrow, director of the first and co-writer of this one, had simply combined the two films from the beginning to get to the ending of this one, we would’ve been left with a stronger film overall. But he didn’t, and we now have two compromised weaker films instead of a single strong movie. That’s a shame. In the worlds of Ian Malcolm: “They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could [create two films] that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

“What fools we were.”

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t a terrible film, but it isn’t a great one either. Frankly, that’s a sentiment I’m tired of writing. It’s another big budget Hollywood film with no ambition other than ticking boxes to maximize profit. The Jurassic World series is as hollow and misguided as the actual park was in both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. It promises the world and doesn’t deliver, and what’s worse, it actually makes the first film even less important in retrospect. Barring serious economic, environmental, or social disaster, we’re going to get a third Jurassic World film in 2021. I just hope, for once, that they try to deliver something special. Something better than just okay. Something that provides the same sense of awe that Spielberg delivered in 1993. But until that moment, I’ll let Dr. Alan Grant speak for me: “After careful consideration, I have decided not to endorse your park [this movie].”

My Rating: 5.5/10

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Poster

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About Jeremiah Greville

Jeremiah Greville is a pretty rad beard that's attached itself to a human face. The beard likes movies, television, comic books, and gentle finger rubs. The human likes pizza and sleep. When they work together, they write reviews. Hope you enjoy them!

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