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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Film Review: Julia’s Eyes

Combining elements of horror with drama, Julia’s Eyes is creepy in parts. Overall, however, it is a pretty disappointing endeavour.

After finding her sister Sara dead after an apparent suicide, Julia starts to lose her vision. Suffering with a genetic disorder, Julia’s vision rapidly starts to deteriorate. Trying to investigate the death of Sara, Julia finds that the circumstances are more complicated than they originally seemed. The further Julia delves, the more danger she puts herself in…

The premise of Julia’s Eyes is perfectly fine for a thriller; it is the execution that lets the film down. Guillem Morales’ film lacks the sense of apprehension that a movie of this nature requires. The main reason for this is that the film is simply too long. Julia’s Eyes could have easily been trimmed by twenty minutes, and would have probably have been a more effective thriller as a result.

The idea of a person losing their vision over a course of days is quite interesting. Julia’s Eyes deals with this idea too messily, however, and tries to inject more strands than is necessary. The inclusion of a character that supposedly cannot be seen is again rather interesting, but the film never explores this theme in sufficient detail. Additionally, there are a number of ideas that are touched upon, but that never amount to anything. Some of the twists that occur do not make any sense, and seem to veer off too far on a tangent from the central narrative.

Julia’s Eyes features plenty of red herrings in order to try and maintain audience interest. The actual reveal is protracted, flitting away the tension that had been building. This section of the film features a particularly good scene where Julia is placed in a very perilous situation. However, it simply takes too long to get to this point. Moreover, the film declines further and further into incredulous territory with every minute that passes. It is unfathomable, for example, that Julia would recuperate at her sister’s house after her terrifying ordeal. The film requires a suspension of disbelief, to say the least.

Performances are good overall in Julia’s Eyes. Belén Rueda is convincing as both Julia and Sara. She embodies both characters, looking natural despite their different appearances. The film uses lighting very effectively, and there are some fantastic shots from cinematographer Óscar Faura.

Being sold on producer Guillermo del Toro’s name, fans may expect something a little more from Julia’s Eyes. Hopefully Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark will be more satisfying.