2018 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Jurassic Park - a film that to this day leaves a dino shaped footprint in popular culture. Steven Spielberg changed the game as we know it when he brought dinosaurs back to the modern day through, at the time, cinema's most advanced visual effects. Moreover through rich and complex characters he explored the irresponsibility of power and how it causes what Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) famously described as the "butterfly effect". Fast Forward almost twenty five years later, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) are recruited on a rescue operation to save the dinosaurs from Isle Nublar after the dormant volcano awakens.
Fallen Kingdom evolves the Jurassic saga into a new era with white knuckled, T-Rex roaring gusto. Director J.A. Bayona casts his dark, Gothic Horror spell over the fantasy adventure of Jurassic Park - although stampeding dinosaurs and flying Pterodactyl's will still leave you suspended at the edge of your seat. Fallen Kingdom explores the dark magic beyond - capturing the significance of the original whilst bravely tearing everything down in the process. Though the many sequels thus far have tried and failed to develop the Jurassic Park legacy, Fallen Kingdom recognises that this is far more than just a film about dinosaurs - in Ian Malcolm's fateful words "Life cannot be contained. Life breaks free. Life finds a way."
From the terrifying opening scene we feel the heat from the scares that proliferate Fallen Kingdom, crafting tension in a completely different way than Spielberg's iconic shaking cup of water. Whether it be lava spewing at the end of an abandoned Jurassic World tunnel or the shadowy Indoraptor crawling across the creaking wooden floors of the Lockwood mansion, Bayona's striking use of lighting injects the fear factor that has been sorely missed from the series ever since the nerve shredding Visitors Centre scene so many years ago.
Fallen Kingdom constructs immense set pieces to let the explosive events unfold. A large portion of the first act builds towards the volcanic eruption. Not only is this breathtaking to behold on the big screen but it poetically waves goodbye to Jurassic Park, delivering a genuinely tear jerking finale. Bayona delicately combines two disparate locations and environments into one cohesive picture, beginning in sub tropical Pacific Isla Nublar and concluding at the Lockwood Estate in mainland California - Bayona emphasises the transition from Jurassic Park into Jurassic World. Crucially, with a tightly structured narrative Fallen Kingdom is the first of the four sequels to successfully pick up where the original ended, venturing deeper into the dark corruption of money and power, and the perils of re-creating prehistoric life.
Whilst the antagonists have a rather pantomime, moustache twirling swagger they act as deliciously evil counterparts. On the other side Claire and Owen are fantastic popcorn movie heroes but curiously aren't written more meaningful parts. Much of what made Jurassic Park the movie it is was the roster of compelling characters, given both depth and purpose, not just bodies to facilitate the story. That said there is some progress, both Howard and Pratt without question develop their characters over their arguably plastic performances in predecessor Jurassic World. As a last peeve the dialog is hit and miss; sometimes as sharp as a Velociraptor claw, others like a Brontosaurus boot. The brief return of Jeff Goldblum's velvet tongued Ian Malcom helms many of Fallen Kingdom's finest one-liners, in contrast most of the surrounding character's dialog is far too basic and on the nose.
Perhaps most interestingly of all, at this point in the franchise the dinosaurs have become as compelling as the humans. Fallen Kingdom offers some visually striking and exhilaratingly tense action scenes that demand to be seen on the largest screen available. Bayona's dark development of the template creates a magnificent sequel that bravely and boldly tears everything we've known apart, bringing forth a bold new era. Re-establishing the fear and excitement of the series with Tyrannosaurus sized oomph in an explosive and surprisingly poignant fashion, Fallen Kingdom finally, wonderfully, continues the true Jurassic Park legacy.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom:
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.