A Film Of Two Very Different, Distinct Halves
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a film of two halves, both unique and flawed in their own way. What begins as an illogically driven, over-the-top action flick subverts expectations as it switches protagonists and focus midway through for an adrenaline-charged, original take on the ancient dino formula. With a distinct lack of characterisation and some cookie cutter antagonists at its helm, Fallen Kingdom is very much a film driven by its big action set pieces and visual spectacle rather than its story and in this respect, the film thrives. There’s some legitimate tension late on and mixed with the gorgeously rendered dinosaurs make Fallen Kingdom one of the better Jurassic films out there.
The story begins several yeas after the events in Jurassic World that saw the dino theme park succumb to chaos at the hands of the man-made behemoth, The Indominous Rex. Isla Nublar is on the verge of destruction as a cataclysmic volcanic eruption threatens to wipe out the remaining dinosaurs and various countries around the world begin debating about the best course of action to take. It’s at this point that Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) enlists the help of Owen (Chris Pratt) to help her rescue the dinosaurs and extract them safely to another island to avoid being wiped out completely. Accompanied by military personnel and backed by a company with less than honest intentions, the two set out to save the dinosaurs before the eruption destroys all life on the island. Around the hour mark, the story changes quite drastically, taking the film and series in a bold new direction while delivering one heck of a rollercoaster ride. Suffice to say it’s worth persevering through the first half to get to this point as it completely changes the complexion of the film.
Visually, Fallen Kingdom is absolutely gorgeous. The dinosaurs all look and move in a realistic fashion and there’s some really impressive lighting effects late on too. Not since the early days of Jurassic Park and Lost World have dinosaurs been seen a legitimate threat but some of the mounting tension and scares the film manages to throw up during its second half rival some of the early work done in the first film. Wide, establishing shots of various areas are nicely implemented too and one particular camera shot late on combines a single scene with a 360 degree rotating shot, backing up the visuals with some technically sound camera work too.
If Jurassic World can be criticised for the unsubtle way it stuck to the conventional story beats of Jurassic Park, Fallen Kingdom manages to disguise its borrowed elements far more cleverly. Echoes of the early Jurassic films are definitely felt here, both in tone and pacing, making this film both wholly original and overly familiar at the same time. It’s subtle enough that the untrained eye may not even notice these moments and for spoiler sake we won’t divulge what these are but suffice to say, Fallen Kingdom isn’t quite as original as it first appears.
After the first hour Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn’t set the bar awfully high, reveling in the lacklustre, action-heavy story it adopts to drive the narrative forward. The story is predictably woeful, the characters bland and uninspiring for the most part and there’s little to really get excited about. When the film slows and begins to build toward its finale, Fallen Kingdom blossoms and subverts expectations, delivering one heck of a rollercoaster ride and one of the more tense Jurassic experiences since the first film. It’s still incredibly flawed and it’s really saying something when the most memorable characters are the dinos themselves. A unique ending and a far better second half do save this one but Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom still falls way short of the bar set by Spielberg back in the 90s with the original Jurassic Park.