Film Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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. 

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Previews: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Featurette, More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions includes the latest Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom featurette, The New Mutants, and more…

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Featurette

Ahead of the trailer’s launch tomorrow, this Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom featurette reveals a little bit more about the plot and characters. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return, and are joined by Jurassic Park royalty Jeff Goldblum. A Monster Calls‘ J.A. Bayona directs this sequel, taking the helm from Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits UK screens on 7th June 2018.

The New Mutants Poster

Here is the new poster for the forthcoming The New Mutants. The film is part of the X-Men franchise, and is about the first graduates from Charles Xavier’s school. The film looks like something different from the superhero genre, in that there is an emphasis on horror rather than just action adventure. The New Mutants will be released in 2018.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower Trailer

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the first feature from Studio Ponoc, formed by Studio Ghibli alums. The film is about a young girl who discovers a flower which gives her the power to be a witch. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There), the English voice cast features Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, and Jim Broadbent. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is scheduled for release in UK cinemas in Spring 2018.

A Matter of Life and Death Trailer

Here is a trailer for the 4K restoration of the Powell & Pressburger’s classic A Matter of Life and Death. The film was originally released in 1946, and combines fantasy and romance as an air force pilot is given additional time on Earth by an afterlife jury. Starring David Niven, a 4K restoration of A Matter of Life and Death will be released in UK cinemas on 8th December 2017.

Film Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls is an emotional fantasy drama. It is a film about storytelling, and it is wonderfully crafted.

Conor is struggling to deal with his mother’s illness, whilst having a tough time at school. When a monster comes to visit him just after midnight, hoping to teach Connor the truth through stories…

Based on novel by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls it perfectly blends a genuinely emotional drama with fantasy elements. The two compliment each other very well in director J.A. Bayonne’s capable hands. The story unfolds at a good pace, as Connor must come to terms with his mother’s illness. The opening dream sequence gives a small taste of things to come, and is a startling beginning.

A Monster Calls has an feel of A Christmas Carol in its set up of the repeated visits. It is refreshing to watch a family film that deals with serious issues without shying away or sugarcoating themes. Some aspects are predictable, but the film is crafted in a way which makes this not matter.

The film is a combination of live action, CGI and animation. The animated sequences are wonderfully rendered, give a real fantasy tone to the film. There is a lot of symbolism in the film. There are also repeated motifs, which tie in neatly to the overall narrative. The score works well, although it is slightly overblown in the finale. These scenes are emotional enough without requiring the extra push. Indeed, some of the scenes without it are the most effective.

Lewis McDougall delivers an impressive performance as Conor. Sigourney Weaver also puts in a good turn as his grandmother. Liam Neeson is a great choice for voicing the monster. Performances throughout the film are strong.

A Monster Calls conveys the difficulty in facing uncomfortable truths in unfortunate circumstances. J.A. Bayona has delivered a poetic and engaging film.

A Monster Calls is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.