After the massive success of 2015’s “Jurassic World”, it was only inevitable that a sequel would be made. J. A. Bayona helms the fifth installment of the “Jurassic Park” franchise, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”, which has, unfortunately, left this tired series in a critically endangered state. There’s no question that Bayona has directing chops to spare, he did after all direct 2016’s “A Monster Calls”, but something went wrong during the making of “Fallen Kingdom”.
Taking place roughly three years after the events of the previous film, “Fallen Kingdom” features the return of Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), as they attempt to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from Isla Nublar before the impending eruption of a volcano destroys it.
I was skeptical of the first trailer for the original “Jurassic World”. After all, the previous sequels of the franchise were nothing compared to Spielberg’s original masterpiece, but I was pleasantly surprised by the time the film was actually released. It seemed that the franchise was back on track, with likable characters, great effects, a terrific score, and an interesting enough story, even if it did slightly mimic the original film. Unfortunately, it seems that the franchise lost all of its momentum by the time “Fallen Kingdom” came around.
As I mentioned earlier, “Jurassic World” mimicked Spielberg’s original film to some extent, and so it’s not all too surprising that a sequel would have similarities to the original film’s followup, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”. However, “The Lost World” happens to be, in my opinion, a fairly weak installment in the series, and “Fallen Kingdom” carbon copied all of the mistakes introduced in it. This includes an overly dark tone, lack of fun, tedious plot points, and an unlikable supporting cast. All of that together makes this latest entry, as Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Malcolm would call it, “one big pile of sh*t”.
It isn’t always bad when a film takes inspiration from another film, just look at “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. It has extremely similar plot points, characters, and structure to the original “Star Wars”, but at least it was inspired by one of the most influential and iconic films of all time. “Fallen Kingdom” chose cinematic trash as the basis for its plot, and it definitely shows. Much like “The Lost World’s” embarrassing scene of young Vanessa Lee Chester’s character using gymnastics to kick a Velociraptor out of a window, “Fallen Kingdom” is also plagued with stupidity and elements that probably seemed like a good idea on paper, but are totally laughable when they come to fruition, such as a dinosaur smiling at the camera.
Too many secondary characters inhabit the screen, and almost all of them irritated me to some degree, but none so much as Justice Smith’s nerdy Franklin Webb. Webb shrieks like a banshee and made me genuinely miss the infamous Jar Jar Binks from “The Phantom Menace”, something I never thought possible. The other characters either had too little screen time, too much, or just felt out of place, which never bodes well for a film.
Perhaps one of the greatest injustices of this film was the limited role that Jeff Goldblum played. For those of you who have watched the trailer, it seemed as if Goldblum’s Dr. Malcolm was returning in glorious fashion, but unfortunately, his role was nothing more than a glorified cameo. With only a couple of minutes of screen time, I couldn’t help but feel that his inclusion in the trailer was only there to get audiences in the seats, despite having such a minimal role.
“Fallen Kingdom” isn’t all bad though, and at times, it actually made me smile. Pratt always has enough wit and charm to lift even the most colossal of duds up a little bit in terms of likability, and his and Howard’s chemistry is one of the few things that this film actually seemed to improve on. Composer Michael Giacchino also returns, delivering an expected but welcome score that manages to be both beautiful and powerful, and of course the special effects are top-notch. It’s just unfortunate that these are the only positive elements, and they’re not nearly enough to save this film.
Despite Pratt’s undeniable charm and a once again impeccable score, “Fallen Kingdom” can never rise above its flaws. To paraphrase Goldblum’s character from 1997’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, it seems the studio was so preoccupied with whether or not they could create more sequels, they never stopped to think if they should. With a by the numbers story, glaring moments of stupidity, and just an overall sense of bleakness, it may be time to let this tired series go extinct.