Fallen Kingdom Devolves into Mediocrity
Chris Kavan - wrote on 07/15/18
Now that the nostalgia factor has worn off, Fallen Kingdom returns in a more rote fashion. Much like The Lost World after Jurassic Park, Fallen Kingdom just can't capture the same magic that Jurassic World brought us, but lays the groundwork for something that could be salvaged.
Director J.A. Boyona takes over from Colin Trevorrow (who instead directed the poorly-received Book of Henry - though he will be back for Jurassic World 3) with stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong returning, along with Jeff Goldblum, in a glorified cameo, but who still gets all the best lines.
Four years have passed since the theme park was destroyed by dinosaurs gone wild, including the hybrid Indominus Rex - and a hefty payout to the survivors. Claire (Howard) now works to save the remaining dinos, as the long-dormant volcano on Isla Nebula has come back to life and threatens eruption in the near future. We are also introduced to two new cast members, the afraid-of-everything techie Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and take-no-crap dino expert Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda). Thanks in part to a warning from Chaos theologian Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) the government has decided against a rescue effort, instead letting nature take its course and once again drive dinosaurs to extinction.
That doesn't stop everyone, however, and Claire's hopes are kept alive after a call from the reclusive and wealthy Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). His huge mansion is populated by himself, his granddaughter (sabella Sermon) her nanny (Geraldine Chaplin) and his estate manager Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). Lockwood, along with John Hammond (the late, great Richard Attenborough, represented by a very well-done portrait) were responsible for laying the groundwork for Jurassic Park, thanks in part to a massive underground laboratory. Mills tells Claire there is a plan in place to save as many dinosaurs as possible and relocate them to a new island - one free of human interference, but they need her help to track down Blue, the one-of-kind raptor. That means she will also have to recruit Owen Grady (Pratt) who is fully done, working on his remote cabin.
Undeterred, Claire tracks down Owen, shares some simmering heat, before being flat turned down for the job. Ha! As if - of course Owen joins the team - with Zia and Fraklin along, they join the military-minded Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine) and work to reactivate the park's tracking system to Owen can find Blue all before the very active volcano blows its top. Now, if you think this is all too good to be true, congratulations, here's a cookie. Mills has no intention of relocating the dinosaurs to a new island, but rather to the highest bidder. He plans to sell off as many dinos as he can and use the funding to create a new Indoraptor - with the killing power of the Indominus Rex but the empathy (and ability to be controlled by humans) of Blue (hence the mission). With the slimy Mr. Eversol (Toby Jones) in charge of the auction, everyone from warlords to Texas good-old-boys can get their hands on their very-own piece of history.
Of course, things don't go as planned, especially when, against the wishes of hybrid enthusiast Dr. Wu (Wong) the prototype Indoraptor is also sold. Soon after, all hell breaks loose, people die (most deservedly so), revelations are had and we face a new world in which dinosaurs roam the nation at large rather than a park. Cue Mr. Ian Malcolm once more for a vision of our near future (it's looking somewhat grim).
The main issue I have with Fallen Kingdom is that it just seems to be trying too hard. From Clair's shoes, to Pratt's lava escape, to nods back to the original film once again - the film can't decide if it wants to be a comedy or a thriller, an escapist blockbuster or a deeper film about messing with course of nature. It swings this way and that, and never truly finds its footing. On great, iconic moment captures the final moments of the grand brachiosaurus - a moment that echoes its first appearance (and the first appearance of any dinosaur) in the original Jurassic Park. It is a great moment, but that's the problem with Fallen Kingdom - it has great moments, but not true cohesion to bring it all together. What we get is a villain who collects dinosaur teeth, yet another child in peril, questionable decisions and a promise of better things to come.
Fallen Kingdom is a true popcorn flick - one that is entertaining for sure, but one that also leaves you feeling a bit empty inside after it's done.