First ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Reactions Tease Action-Packed Dinosaur Mayhem

     June 5, 2018


The first reactions to the highly anticipated sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom have come rolling in from press who attended early screenings, and the response is a bit divided. Some folks (including yours truly) are praising lots of peak dino action and an improvement from Jurassic World, others say it can’t quite capture the magic of what makes Jurassic movies great, and some are flat out calling it the worst of the franchise. Safe to say, this movie isn’t going to be for everyone, but it’s sparking up a lot of passionate responses across the spectrum.

2015’s Jurassic World was the fruition of years of development on a fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise, and the Colin Trevorrow-directed “sequelboot” exceeded all expectations to the tune of $1.6 billion worldwide. Trevorrow co-wrote the follow-up with his Jurassic World writing partner Derek Connolly, but J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) stepped into the director’s chair as Trevorrow was busy developing Star Wars: Episode IX (a film he ultimately departed).


Image via Universal Pictures

Fallen Kingdom takes place a few years after the events of the first movie and finds Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) returning to the now abandoned Isla Nublar to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from a brewing volcano that threatens to make the animals once again extinct. But their expedition is not what it seems, and after uncovering a conspiracy, Owen and Claire find themselves in a race against greed, corporatism, and murderous dinosaurs.

Bayona was actually the producers’ first choice to direct Jurassic World, so he was a logical pick to step in and take the helm of the follow-up. So how are the reactions so far?


Here, working from a script by the last pic’s Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, Bayona not only nods to the histories of classic monster movies and the legacy of original Jurassic helmer Steven Spielberg; he brings his own experience to bear, treating monsters like actual characters and trapping us in a vast mansion that’s as full of secrets as the site of his breakthrough 2007 film The Orphanage. Audiences put off by some dumb characterizations in the last film have much less to complain about here, while those requiring only some spectacular predators and exciting chase scenes should greet this outing as warmly as its predecessor.


Director J. A. Bayona (“A Monster Calls”) goes through the motions of these scenes, even staging a “hiding from dinosaurs” set piece that was the most memorable section of Steven Spielberg’s original “Jurassic Park” movie from 1993. But what was exciting and scary then feels expected and very hackneyed now.


The movie culminates in a dinosaur auction scene that carries echoes of “King Kong,” but it just makes you wish that the air of poignance surrounding the creatures were more sustained. At this point, a “Jurassic” movie needs its dinosaurs to be both victimized innocents and giant-teeth-gnashing predators, and there’s something hackneyed and opportunistic about the facile (if not mindless) way that “Fallen Kingdom” switches back and forth between those two modes.


Forget directors jail. For his crimes against movies, Colin Trevorrow should be bound so he can’t do any further harm to once amazing franchises or the fans who loved them. Though not at the helm of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the hand of Trevorrow, the filmmaker who brought us the sexist, dumb, and repellent Book of Henry and Jurassic World, is felt. As co-writer and executive producer, Trevorrow shaped a sequel so criminally stupid that it should kill this abysmal franchise for good.


Director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) has a way with striking, monstrous visuals, and Fallen Kingdom has a few. (It also has one extremely clever “chase” scene involving Chris Pratt trying to outrun a wall of lava.) But the plot mechanics by writers Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (who also directed Jurassic World) needed to get from Isla Nublar to the Lockwood home are so laughable, as are any number of events required to bring about the slasher film-style chaos of the third act, that they repeatedly undercut the movie’s thrills. This isn’t just a film you need to “turn off your brain” to enjoy; nothing less than surgically removing your brain from your body would do the trick.


It’s a brave choice to literally blow up everything that’s come before but one that definitely pays off in Fallen Kingdom. While Jurassic World gave us a lovely self-contained story, Fallen Kingdom leaves us wondering just where the series will go for its third act – as long as Stiggy plays an extensive pivotal role, I’ll be absolutely fine with it.








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