We all remember the T-Rex’s roar. That bone-shaking, ululating shriek of rage, hunger and primeval power. But we also remember that it grew irritating as every single film with any kind of giant lizard in it tried to replicate the genuine fear and awe that came with the first time we saw Sam Neill run in terror from the massive dinosaur. From Godzilla to The Lost World that distinctive roar has become what the Wilhelm scream is to action movies: occasionally entertaining but almost always draining. This is the spirit Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom operates in.
Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) must return to Isla Nublar with various guns-for-hire and two supporting cast members that barely matter in order to save the dinosaurs at the command of Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) and his slimy right hand man Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). While there Owen and Claire are betrayed and must prevent the mass sale of dinosaurs back at Lockwood’s Calfornian estate.
Fallen Kingdom feels like two films sewn together. J. A. Bayona attempts to recreate Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow’s attempts to recreate Spielberg’s iconic sequences and images. He fails although being tasked with making a mirror image of a mirror image is a borderline impossible task. That said Bayona’s gothic-horror roots show through in several inspired if not totally convincing scenes. An approaching dinosaur in a tunnel is lit only by the drip of lava. The evil dinosaur created by the geeks in the lab stalks the halls of Lockwood’s manor like a scaly, twenty foot Nosferatu.
Trevorrow, although not returning to direct, did return to scripting duties with Derek Connolly. This is where the film really falls down. The script is crammed full of characters with five main heroes, three villains and a wasted supporting cast. Though last year was great for break out young actresses such as Dafne Keen in Logan, Farrah MacKenzie in Logan Lucky and Ekaterina Samsonov in You Were Never Really Here. Unfortunately Isabella Sermon just comes across as annoying in Fallen Kingdom as Lockwood’s prim, prissy and precocious granddaughter. Many of the script’s jokes uttered with a smirk or in a panicked scream by Chris Pratt or Justice Smith and just as many of these jokes fall flat.
Making Jurassic World was a mistake just as Jurassic Park trampled on the legacy of evolution with man playing God so too does Fallen Kingdom trample on the legacy of its forebears. Though its dinosaurs look amazing it’s tiring seeing them go through the same motions over and over again. Those created by Henry Wu (B. D. Wong) in the lab just look silly and add nothing to proceedings that couldn’t have been filled by a T-Rex or a raptor. Fallen Kingdom treads much of the same ground before blowing it up which would be almost admirable if we hadn’t seen that all before with the Jurassic Park sequels. Life may find a way but sometimes extinction is better. Andrew Carroll.