JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Geraldine Chaplin, James Cromwell, Ted Levine, Isabella Sermon, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, B. D. Wong
Directed by J. A. Bayona
Written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly
Based on characters created by Michael Crichton
Executive producers, Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow
Produced by Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley and Belen Atienza
Cinematography by Oscar Faura
Edited by Bernat Vilaplana
Music by Michael Giacchino
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” believe it or not the fifth film in the “Jurassic Park” movie series since the original Steven Speilberg film debuted twenty-five years ago in 1993, is surprisingly entertaining—at times, the movie is, yes, slightly predictable and uninventive—going over the same thrills and chills everyone has seen before—but “Fallen Kingdom,” overall, does still remain just what it is—a fun and thrilling summer escapist blockbuster-style science-fiction film.
“Kingdom,” despite at times being slightly predictable, as noted, does offer an actually interesting main story and even some interesting subplots touching on some important themes that still offer some major issues to think about after the movie’s over; the movie benefits greatly from a great cast of talented actors, led by an always-charming Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard–and Howard is looking exceptionally beautiful in this film, and that is a professional comment, because her beauty and presence help carry and lift up the film–and the leads are aided strongly by the always-reliable, always-welcome Geraldine Chaplin (she is now 73, and she is the fourth child of Charlie Chaplin), Ted Levine and James Cromwell, and they’re all aided by some fresh, younger faces that add some spunk, cuteness and humor; there’s a great cadre of evil bad guys with, this time around, some particularly nasty ideas about the future of dinosaurs which does add some suspense and out-right terror; there are some thrilling, suspenseful action and adventure and chase sequences; and, as always, the film is full of state-of the-art, high-technology special, computer, digital, matte and visual effects. Oh, and, yes, there’s plenty of breathtaking, loud, scary and, at times, absolutely terrifying dinosaurs.
And, to the movie’s credit, there’s a load of important moral, scientific, biological historical and technological questions, dilemmas and lessons that, when properly addressed, do add some intellectual weight to the film–at times.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” again, is what it is: a fun, thrilling, suspenseful summer escapist blockbuster. And it’s perfect to see in the theaters this coming summer weekend, the weekend of June 22-24, 2018. The film is specifically recommended for viewing in the theaters–the beautifully-cinematic and impressive landscapes, vistas, aerial shots, action sequences, elaborate sets and outdoor locations–and, yes, the dinosaurs–all should be seen–and enjoyed–up on the big screen.
“Kingdom,” it should be noted, is far superior to its immediate predecessor movie in the “Jurassic” series, 2015’s “Jurassic World,” which was actually quite mediocre and almost flat-out bad—that movie, which also featured Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, was simply flat, lacked a decent storyline, and seemed to exist only to showcase its special effects and some frenzied scare scenes full of scared crowds and fleeing people. “Kingdom” is even better than the entirely unnecessary third film in the original trilogy, 2001’s “Jurassic Park III.” Sometimes, if filmgoers can be patient enough, some series do come around with a surprisingly decent addition to the franchise, even after the usually-good first and second films—sometimes. Of course, that said, film history is also filled with plenty of movie franchises—far too many, actually–where every film that came after the first in the series was entirely unnecessary—and entirely forgettable.
“Kingdom” saves itself on an intellectual level—not that the film is consistently intellectual during its entire running time, of course, because it’s surely not—by making sure to address the scientific, academic, historical, philosophical, psychological, moral, biological and technological questions that decidedly and forcefully lie at the foundation of the movie series and the original books by Michael Crichton: Just how much power does mankind have to resurrect extinct creatures and dinosaurs, to clone animals and humans, to tamper with the natural DNA and hereditary make-ups of animals and humans? Should humans resurrect at all extinct animals, including dinosaurs? If resurrected animals turn out to go slightly haywire—like some of the bizarre dinosaurs resurrected from the past in the “Jurassic” movies—should they be allowed to live again, or should they be killed again? How should mankind oversee resurrected animals and dinosaurs? Do humans even have the right to resurrect extinct animals from their amber-preserved, DNA-preserved graves? Do humans have the right to clone animals and humans and then keep those cloned creatures alive if they turn out to go haywire? And if the natural course of history and biology lead to a second age of extinction for certain animals, should mankind let nature take its natural course—or should man step in and save the animals from extinction? And, once again, do humans have the right in this world to place animals, creatures, dinosaurs and humans in high-tech labs, tinker with biological make-ups and create new types of hybrids, cyborgs, robots, clones, animal-man combination things, animal-tech combined things, man-tech combined things, artificial intelligence creatures, tech-hybrid creatures or other dangerous biologically-tampered-and-changed creatures?
All of these are important, relevant, timely questions—in real life and in “Kingdom”—amid continuing, advancing developments in all of these areas in society, as people continually question just how far mankind should, could, can and shouldn’t go in these areas in the laboratory. “Kingdom,” to its credit, as noted, does indeed make sure to address these questions, directly through well-written bookend scientific statements in the movie, and through symbolism, foreshadowing and actions presented in the film through the main story and the main story’s subplots, and through the actions of the movie’s villains. Again, by planting these important thoughts in moviegoer’s minds—and they are scary, frightening, terrifying thoughts, and that’s a good thing—throughout “Kingdom,” amid the required thrills-and-chills mayhem, screenwriters Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly and director J. A. Bayona and executive producers Steven Spielberg and Trevorrow add some intelligence and actual thought to the proceedings.
Jeff Goldblum does appear—and this is not a spoiler, as mentioning Goldblum’s appearance does not spoil anything in the movie—as the science-oriented researcher, scientist and University of Texas at Austin mathematician and chaos theory expert from the original film, Ian Malcolm. Malcolm’s appearance in “Kingdom” is actually one of the movie’s highlights in terms of addressing those aforementioned questions that Chrichton and the movies seek to address—his brief dialogues about man and dinosaurs and tampering with nature provide the needed scientific, intelligent overview of the film’s, and the film series’, over-arching story. Malcolm’s intelligent statements in “Kingdom,” presented at a U.S. Senate hearing, are well-written, well-thought-out, and well-constructed in regards to how they are used in the movie—without the brief, but important and needed, appearance of Malcolm in “Kingdom,” the movie would suffer, and would be less than what it is. Trevorrow, Connolly and Bayona were smart to include Goldblum, his character Malcolm, and Malcolm’s statements at a scientific hearing regarding the resurrected dinosaurs. The only thing wrong with Goldblum’s appearance and statements is that the movie needed more of this level of dialogue during other parts of the movie. The screenwriters and director needed to include some similar intelligent, science-based dialogue in other scenes to provide a more smart counterpart to the slightly predictable cat-and-mouse, chase, mayhem, fight and attack sequences. Those sequences, as noted, are suspenseful, scary, fun and entertaining, but the near-constant pounding pace of the film could have greatly benefited from several scenes of more insightful, in-depth, intellectual-oriented dialogue, discussions, arguments and conversations. Even in a summer popcorn escapist blockbuster science-fiction movie, it’s okay to slow things down every now and then actually think and talk on a higher intellectual level—and “Kingdom” does need more of these types of scenes.
Nevertheless, at least we have those quality moments with Goldblum’s always-important Malcolm. And at least Malcolm is still around, still questioning and addressing and warning about all of those aforementioned scientific questions.
In “Kingdom,” the dinosaurs from 2015’s “World” are in danger on their island enclave—a huge, towering, quite-angry and quite-active volcano is on the verge of erupting completely and literally destroying the entire island—and all of the current dinosaur residents. Howard’s Claire Dearing, who heads a private, low-budget, struggling grassroots organization called the Dinosaur Protection Group, which obviously works to protect and save the resurrected dinosaurs, is contacted by Cromwell’s Benjamin Lockwood, who worked with Richard Attenborough’s original scientist John Hammond to resurrect the dinosaurs and preserve them, about a plan by Lockwood and his aide Eli Mills (wonderfully and creepily portrayed in an appropriately scary, slimy, snaky and creepy manner by Rafe Spall) to move the dinosaurs yet again to another island where they would be preserved and protected—hopefully—yet again. Dearing subsequently recruits Pratt’s Owen Grady, who has attempted to leave the dinosaur-training world behind him after the tragic events of “World,” to travel to the dinosaur’s enclave, save them, and, in particular, save the relatively-domesticated but still-somewhat-shaky dinosaur nicknamed Blue, who is the last of his kind and apparently some type of hope for training and domesticating the dinosaurs in the future.
Dearing and Grady and two assistants from Dearing’s group, former Jurassic Park computer whiz Franklin Webb and dinosaur-specialist veterinarian Zia Rodriguez—charmingly played, respectively, by the young actors Justice Smith, 22, and Daniella Pineda, who is about 29 or 30—arrive at the island, but they’re there for, oh, about ten minutes before all holy hell breaks loose. One setback for the movie is the too-abbreviated time that the group actually spends on the island before that hell occurs. They are literally barely on the ground, barely at the park’s control system, barely there with enough time to have any of those needed dialogue scenes—and the volcano erupts, dinosaurs break loose, people dies, things explode, and chases occur. These action-adventure sequences are indeed presently exceptionally well, and the scenes are thrilling and enjoyable, but everything happens so fast, it’s just too fast, and the accelerated timing and pacing of the island arrival is too quick, and too rushed.
Once again, with the volcano’s eruption, the dinosaurs escape—but the manner in which they escape is a bit novel, and won’t be revealed here, but think of “King Kong” and a thousand other creature-feature films, and you’ll get an idea how the dinosaurs escape this time. And the dinosaur’s escape is indeed scary.
As always, the literally hundreds of special, visual, computer, digital and other affects artists and their respective special affects companies deserve much credit and praise in “Kingdom”—the dinosaurs are still impressive, scary and memorable—and the production, art and scenic designers deserve credit, too, for some quite-impressive sets in “Kingdom,” including the dinosaur island, the volcanic eruption, a dinosaur chase-escape scene as the volcano explodes, and a wonderfully, creepily Gothic sprawling mansion that will recall in equal parts the Addams Family mansion, the Norman Bates house and some horribly over-done Beverly Hills McMansion.
Once back on the mainland, the ensuing story evolves—and those plot points are also quite scary to ponder—and it’s up to the gutsy, spunky, heroic team of Owen, Claire, Franklin and Zia—now aided by an appropriately cute girl Maisie, who was raised by Lockwood, and who is well-played by the also-spunky and heroic Isabella Sermon—to stop the villains, save the dinosaurs, save Blue, and stop a particularly nasty, terrifying plan by the villains regarding the dinosaurs, the military, evil worldwide cabels, dangerous high-tech projects and black market dinosaur dealers—really. There’s an interesting main story involving all of this, an additional interesting backstory, some more thrills and chills, bit too much cookie-cutter, standard cat-and-mouse chase sequences, and some, as noted, appropriately terrifying dinosaur scenes.
“Kingdom” ends with a shockingly horrifying scenario that, again, will once again place all of those scientific, philosophical and biological and technical questions squarely and fittingly directly into people’s heads—and it’s a thrilling manner to end the movie. Malcolm’s prescient, ominous warnings ring out over all of the film’s proceedings and the movie’s ending—and that is yet another thrill and chill that moviegoers will take with them as they leave the theaters.
“Kingdom” is recommended, and the movie is indeed enjoyable despite its elements of predictability here and there, but as one watches the movie and subsequently leaves the movie theater, think about all of those questions about the dinosaurs. What if they were resurrected, and, if they are, how should the world deal with the subsequent consequences? Just how much chaos theory can Earth take before chaos overtakes theory and the very existence and future of Earth and humankind themselves are threatened? Should resurrected dinosaurs survive, even if that means the end of humankind? Who should survive? Just who has the right to decide who survives a dinosaur apocalypse, a mankind apocalypse, or an overall Earth apocalypse? These chilling, thrilling questions will fill moviegoers’ heads as they watch “Kingdom,” as they leave the theater, and long after they leave the theater, and that is only a good thing, and that is a credit to the moviemaker’s savvy and smarts, the movie’s impact,—and the movie’s overall levels of intelligence, enjoyment and entertainment.