Director J.A. Bayona’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom offers something a little different in terms of setting. It is a shame that the rest of the film feels all too familiar.
Three years after the disaster at the park, a volcano becomes active on Isla Nublar. As politicians debate about the fate of dinosaurs, a philanthropist enlists the help of Claire and Owen to save the creatures…
If the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World films are to be considered a horror franchise, then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the scariest of the lot, on paper at least. A dystopian plot and a penitentiary-style setting should mean fear reigns in this latest instalment. But despite the darkness, the film lacks the moments of terror executed so finely by Steven Spielberg in the first film, and the even the frisson of excitement offered by its predecessor.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom features big set pieces on the island. The addition of the active volcano gives a new dimension of urgency to proceedings. The sequences here generate a good sense of excitement, even if they occur early enough to negate real danger for the main characters.
Writers Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly shift the setting to a more inclosed space, far less removed than the island. This is a good move in terms of moving the narrative along from a simple ‘escape the island’ dynamic. Instead of the isolation of the island, Bayona imbues the film with a sense of claustrophobia in this second setting. Yet the writing lets the film down. The climax is too reminiscent of earlier ones in the franchise, and this means the tension is not present. The dialogue is poor at times, and there is not enough in the way of ingenuity to forgive this.
New characters are given little in the way of development with the writers relying on staid archetypes. This means it is hard for viewers to care when they are in danger. Bayona shows some visual flair, which is most welcome. Cinematography by Óscar Faura is a highlight, even if the shadow compositions are overused by the end of the film. Like the very first film, there are moments of horror, yet because so much in these scenes has been utilised previously, it does not seem so scary this time around.
Performances in the film are perfectly adequate. Jeff Goldblum is always a welcome presence, even if his role is very minor. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise roles well, others such as Toby Jones are not allowed to move beyond their caricatures.
The way that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ends could very well indicate the end of the franchise. At this point, there seems little place where the series can go.