Verge Reviews: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and even Jeff Goldblum are back for the eagerly anticipated sequel to the newly rebooted Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. We should hardly be surprised, given that Jurassic World, the fourth instalment of the series took over $1 billion at the box office. Released three years ago back in 2015, Jurassic World was obviously a huge commercial success and received critical acclaim for successfully reigniting the franchise’s flame. Simply put, Fallen Kingdom, like so many big budget sequels has a huge task to live up to it’s predecessor, but does it?

The trouble with so many modern day sequels is that they’re always in a tough position to create something new and exciting, whilst staying true to the original film. And Fallen Kingdom really doesn’t come up short in terms of the idea. There are social issues and economical allegories and aspects throughout the film, with good performances and some genuinely exciting and truly sad moments. The first 10 minutes in particular are spectacular and wouldn’t look out of place in the original Jurassic Park, which is a huge compliment to Director J.A.Bayona.

The performances are great. You get exactly what you’d expect from Pratt and Howard and their chemistry is as good as it was in their previous outing, with a nice amount of extra humour added to their characters too. Both characters also have more depth to them. Claire in particular, has much more about her than the stereotypical businesswoman that she was portraying in Jurassic World, gone are the high heels that she donned in every scene and she shares a lot more of the combat scenes this time around. Rafe Spall gives an excellent performance as Eli Mills, the money-obsessed investor who’s in charge of looking after Lockwood’s legacy and money as he aims to profit off Lockwood’s research. There are also some nice comedic performances from the nerdy Justice Smith and the feisty Daniella Pineda who play Claire’s colleagues Franklin and Dr Zia respectively.

Pleasingly the storyline pretty much picks up where the previous film ended with the island in disarray and the remaining dinosaurs fending for themselves amidst the danger of a live and erupting volcano, setting up the perfect storyline for Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Howard) to return to. In the beginning, most of the storyline is centred around Claire who has quit her job after Jurassic World’s closure and is now working to help protect the dinosaurs. After a meeting with the former partner of the creator of the original Jurassic Park, Benjamin Lockwood, back in 1993, Claire is sent on a mission to retrieve the endangered dinosaurs and tracks down Owen to help her retrieve one of the most valuable species on the island, his lead Raptor, Blue. Once on the island though, things start take a dramatic turn for the worse, as you’d expect in any Jurassic Park film and Claire and Owen are forced to reunite to stop the corrupt scientists from merging even more species together through DNA samples and to save the various species from becoming very expensive and indestructible investments. So if you’re like me, then this will make you feel a lot more confident going into the film. There’s nothing worse than watching a sequel where you can’t even get over the first mental hurdle and wondering to yourself ‘why would you go back?’.

As you’d imagine, the scenes on the island are everything you could want. They’re fast paced, fun, filled with action and there is more than a hint of sadness in them. To say you’re reminded of the devastation of the previous film is an understatement, the whole island is littered with reminders of the immersive theme park and the scene where the team leave the island will certainly pull at the old heartstrings, especially for animal lovers. In my opinion, this is what the franchise has always been about; incredible action, realistic creatures and throughout every film, moral questions have always been asked and possibly none more so than in Fallen Kingdom.

For a good hour, you’ll be hooked and then…well you still will be but you’ll also be asking yourself ‘wait, how did we get here?’. It’s difficult not to give too much away but the second half of the film might as well be called Jurassic Stately Home. This isn’t my main issue though, because it is a very nice home and it’s quite cool to see dinosaurs in someone’s house. My main gripe is that for some reason, loads of weird and fairly irrelevant subplots are thrown at you and honestly to me it seemed as though they were only thrown in there to beef out the running time. The most annoying and baffling example of this is the scene where Mills tells Iris that she’s no longer needed. To give you a bit of a background on this, Iris is in her elderly years and has given decades of her life to the family, so you’d imagine there’d be a big stand off as she defends her dignity and her pride, right? Well, she doesn’t, she literally just leaves and heads out the door. There are so many examples of these thinly thought out subplots that I actually lost count of how many there were and it actually took away so much from the clever and relevant moral questions the film was asking.

The final thing you’ll be asking yourself is ‘what next?’. As frustrating as the pointless sub plots are, the writing however is redeemed by the ending, because Fallen Kingdom has set the next instalment perfectly.(It also has the perfect narrator in Jeff Goldblum as he tells world what we can expect in the future in a fairly damning attack on the human race and our apparent need to mess with nature and science). What next for the characters? And what next for the real Jurassic World? Well, for Owen and Claire, it looks like their world is about to change with a new addition to their team and for the world, well who knows? All I know is that for every great aspect of Fallen Kingdom there was an annoying negative, but it really is great fun and deserves a lot of credit for the direction the film went in. Fallen Kingdom is ambitious, action-packed and absolutely mad.

Rating 3.5/5
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is out in cinemas now and is released by Universal Pictures. Watch the trailer here