Is there a creator?

Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

(M) Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, Jeff Golblum

Three years after the debacle at Jurassic World, the theme park has been shut down and all of the survivors have been given compensation for their trauma, but now there is a new threat on the island. Isla Nublar was a dormant volcano, but recently has become active and the prehistoric residents of the island are in danger of extinction again. As the governments of the world debate the fate of the genetically cloned creatures, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has turned dinosaur advocate and heads up the Dinosaur Protection Group which is approached by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), John Hammond’s former partner in creating the new breed of dinosaurs.

Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), the multi-millionaire’s aide asks the former Jurassic World employee to assist with the extraction of key dinosaurs from the island for their preservation. The only stipulation would be for Claire to recruit her former love interest and the velociraptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to join her on the rescue mission.  After working through their past relationship, the pair heads up a team that goes to attempt to save these species from a second extinction.

For the fans of this series of dinosaur adventures, the latest instalment is a straightforward rehashing of the premise that has made the formula so popular with audiences. Director J. A. Bayona (The Monster Calls) seems to take from Steven Spielberg’s playbook and brings in every element of the original classic and it’s successors. Rearview mirror views of the action, multiple bellows from T-Rex, chase scene upon chase scene and at least one child in peril all come into the storytelling of the Spanish director. Despite the reference to King Kong and the change of the monsters physical location that threatens mankind, there are few unique new ideas in this new chapter of the franchise.

A key component that led to the success and blockbuster status of 2015’s Jurassic World was Chris Pratt, hot off his success in Guardians of the Galaxy, as the new protagonist and his chemistry with Bryce Dallas Howard’s character. He brought a swagger to the franchise and the relational tension needed to provide a human element amidst the rampaging dinosaurs. Even though the couple are back for this episode (with realtional sparring as appropriate), they are relegated to chase scenes and very little character development. Newcomers include Maise Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) the patriarch’s granddaughter, with obvious plans to develop her character in the final film in the trilogy (11 June 2021 to be exact).

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom seems to have fallen into the ‘middle film’ syndrome of a trilogy. The story serves as a bridge to something more significant and while it is faithful to the franchise and recalls many chills and thrills from the original films, it fails to add anything of significance to make it stand out from other monster films.

Given the patchy success of some blockbusters of late (particularly those planning their success based on nostalgia), might Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fall victim to bigger predators in the film world of the survival of the fittest? We’ll have to wait and see if it can best the success of the original Jurassic World at the box office.

In cinematic history, the notion of creator and created has been at the heart of a multitude of scripts and screenplays. From Frankenstein to Blade Runner, we can see that some of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers still see the origins story of life as a necessary question to be considered. Michael Crichton continually hits on this concept in his novels, from Westworld to  Jurassic Park. 

Interestingly, most fictional accounts come down to the same conclusion, that even with the best of intentions, man’s futile attempts at creating new life leads to less than satisfactory results.

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger 

 




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