Cinematic Releases: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Reviewed

Twenty-five years ago this month, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was released. It was a game changer. It revolutionized the modern blockbuster, combining state of the art effects, strong performances, and a smart script packed with thrills, humor, and fear into a formidable specimen of movie magic that has kept us spellbound ever since it first came out. Since its release, Spielberg and other filmmakers have been trying to, much like the scientists at Jurassic Park, replicate the original film’s success. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the latest attempt that will leave fans satisfied with the dino action but wishing there was a little more to it than that. 

Set three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, the world is content with letting the park stay abandoned so as to not grapple with the fact that we share the same planet with dinosaurs. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) decide to return on a conservationist mission to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that's about to erupt. But when they get there, they soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs and end up uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet as we know it.

Hey there little guy. I know a raccoon that would kick the crap out of you. 
Just with bad attitude. 

Directed by J. A. Bayona, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a B-movie with blockbuster money thrown at it to make it look nice. Bayona elevates the weak script by directing scenes with enough tension and surprises that there were moments where I was caught off guard and impressed. He uses his horror movie chops throughout the film, using shadows and light to create a palpable sense of dread and tension. There are several sequences in here that are going to be crowd pleasers and will kill with active and ready to go audience. It’s a shame that the direction is let down by the weak script. 

That said weakness hurts not only the story but the actors too. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard have some chemistry but it lacks the spark or fun that original characters had in the first film. They just seem kind of dull and uninteresting. Here, it feels like Action Man and his hot lady friend who wants to save dinosaurs because the script wants them to. A reoccurring element in this film seems to involve characters doing things because they need them to do that thing that any sane person wouldn’t do for the movie to continue.

I guess this is one of the better Jurassic Park sequels because it's just okay. You aren’t going to want to violently jab your eyes out while watching it, so I guess that’s a plus. It's safe and predictable but it’s a bummer that safe and predictable are all that this series can seem to muster now. You can pretty much guess what exactly happens in this movie and even the dialogue and characters feel like hand me downs from better monster movies. The dinosaur stuff is cool but when isn’t it cool? They are dinosaurs. It’s too bad all the effort that went into making the dinosaurs look cool didn’t go into the script.

-Liam S. O'Connor