In 2015, director Colin Trevorrow achieved something that even Steven Spielberg, Joe Johnston, and John Hammond had failed to do; he opened Jurassic Park (well, Jurassic World) to the public. Now in 2018, J. A. Bayona (director of The Orphanage, The Impossible and the heartbreaking A Monster Calls) kills the park for good in the middle chapter of this new trilogy.
When Ilsa Nublar, home to Jurassic World, comes under threat from a volcanic eruption, former park operations manager Claire Dearing (Dallas Howard) is recruited by billionaire, and previously unmentioned partner to John Hammond, Benjamin Lockwood, to try and save as many of the inhabitants (attractions) as she can, before they go extinct for a second time. With the rest of the world standing idly by, she (reluctantly) recruits Velociraptor expert - and ex-boyfriend - Owen Grady (Pratt) along with IT guy Franklin (Smith) and ‘Paleo-Veterinarian’ Zia Rodriguez (Pineda) and head back to the island with a collection of hunters, hired guns, and resources provided by Lockwood's assistant Eli Mills (Spall).
While the idea of returning to the park to try and rescue some of these terrible lizards may seem like a suicide mission, Bayona does a much better job of setting the scene for this adventure than any of the trailers for the film. Returning to the island is also only a part of a much bigger story, one that leaves the park behind, seemingly for good this time.
Without going into spoilers, once the action leaves the island, there are plenty of new opportunities for enjoyable set pieces with dinosaurs in unfamiliar surroundings, and I don't mean using gymnastics poles to kick 'raptors in the face. The comical exploits of a juvenile Pachycephalosaurus - the head-banging dinosaur, stick out, as does the introduction of the Indoraptor; a crossbreed of the previous film's Indominus rex and a Velociraptor. The design of the Indoraptor, while still nowhere near as iconic as the series' T-rex, is far more threatening than the I-rex, even if it's not entirely scary. The audience knows the series is unlikely to allow the Indoraptor to eat Chris Pratt or Lockwood's Granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon).
Pratt remains as charming as ever; however, the film manages to build up the relationship between Owen and his trained Velociraptor Blue far better than the previous one did. Unencumbered by both impractical footwear and the indifference to dinosaurs that marred her character in the previous film, Dallas Howard is a much more likeable protagonist this time around and engages equally in the action.
Fans of Jeff Goldblum and D. B. Wong may be a little disappointed with their screen time, however. Wong provides little more than a cameo while Goldblum bookends the film (albeit very effectively).
Turning John Williams’ theme into a funereal dirge as the characters revisit the remains of the JW tourist centre (and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville) from the previous film may be the biggest indication of the filmmakers’ intentions with the series going forward.
Fallen Kingdom doesn't quite re-engineer the franchise, but it does move it along some interesting directions that open a new world of possibilities for Trevorrow's planned return to the director's chair in 2021 for Jurassic World 3.
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: J. A. BAYONA / SCREENPLAY: COLIN TREVORROW, DEREK CONNOLLY / STARRING: BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD, CHRIS PRATT, JUSTICE SMITH, DANIELLA PINEDA, ISABELLA SERMON, RAFE SPALL, JAMES CROMWELL / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 6TH
Expected Rating: 5 out of 10