I recently re-watched the original Jurassic Park after some years and was pleasantly reminded about just how great a film it is. The effects still hold up very well, and it is an incredibly well paced and constructed movie with great characters. I grew up watching the film and gained a newfound appreciation for it from the point of view about the moral issues that the film posed (you just wanted to see the dinosaurs when you were young, right?). Specifically from Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm (who bookends the film): “You didn’t ask whether you could, but whether you should.” But should they have continued the Jurassic Park saga?
25 years later and we have Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the latest instalment of the series, which was brought out of extinction by Colin Trevorrow in 2015’s fun, b-movie nostalgia trip, Jurassic World (also surprisingly re-watchable but not as interesting as the original). JWFK continues the story of the since closed Jurassic World. It follows Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) as they venture back to Isla Sorna, along with a couple of annoying SJW-types and mercenaries, to rescue the dinosaurs before a volcano erupts, wiping out all life on the island. However, if you’ve seen any of the trailers, the film also takes place on the mainland where a nefarious corporation have created another genetic hybrid called the Indo-Raptor. Like all good hybrids, they manage to escape and mayhem ensues.
I felt that JWFK was overall a much better made film with the production and direction much more confident than the first JW. The opening sequence set a ‘darker’ mood, and was the best prologue to a Jurassic film since the first one. It didn’t rely on nostalgia as heavily as the first one did, although it has several callbacks to the first film. However, I found the issues surrounding Dino mayhem far more interesting this time round.
The issue of animal rights towards a species that had been brought back via cloning technology was interesting. JWFK explored the cloning realm more in this instalment than previous outings, especially in exploring the character of Maisie – Lockwood’s cloned daughter. Her own inability to leave the Lockwood mansion channels the sentiment as to why she lets the dinosaurs go free at the end of the film – they somehow deserve to be set free of their human confinement. She shares the same kind of origin as they do. This is interesting stuff.
Of course the whole ‘man’s hubris in controlling nature’ theme runs rampant in the film, especially with the Indo-Raptor – but it is nothing new. I found the second half of the film, which was like a monster movie, a little less thrilling than the first, event though most of the themes were best explored there. I honestly wish there was more of Owen attempting to reestablish his relationship with Blue, which was the catalyst for the creation of the Indo-raptor, or weaponised ‘obedient’ dinosaurs.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wish I were more thrilled or even scared by what I saw in JWFK, especially given the talents on board in J.A. Bayona, who did the creepy ghost story, The Orphanage. There is a sense of fatigue given to seeing dinosaurs onscreen; which is ironically the subtext to the first JW film. Revisiting the original JP helped me to rediscover that that film had both brains and thrills. Whilst this film had set-pieces, it just didn’t really connect with me and left me feeling a little underwhelmed. I had similar feelings and trouble with Solo: A Star Wars Story.
If you enjoyed any of the previous Jurassic Park films, you will likely enjoy this one. I liked it about the same as the first JW, and definitely more than JPIII (Alan!). This one also had more emotional moments than I can remember any of the other entries having (you’ll know it when you see it!), but could have had more with the Blue-Owen relationship. It does set up the inevitable sequel, which I am genuinely curious about.
Bring on the mayhem!