Let’s make this clear.
I absolutely suck at writing reviews.
Especially of films.
For a start, any decent review mentions actors, directors, prouducers. Visual effect people. All that stuff.
I do not go into a film knowing any of that aforementioned ‘stuff’.
In fact, when I’m watching a film with my husband and he starts with the “oh I’ve seen him before, he played blah blah in blah blah and IMDB blah” I totally zone out. Evidently.
So my reviews will always be very much lacking on the ‘Mr Director showed his background in horror movies with his use of suspense’ and ‘Mrs Actor, famous for her role in That Film’ front.
I go by my gut. Liking things. Not liking things. The odd bit of outrage.
So what about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom?
Here’s a hint: I started writing this blog post before I even left the cinema, when I still found myself vaguely teary about the fate of a CGI Brachiosaurus.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Jurassic Park franchise since I was a little kid and it scared me silly. I was obsessed with dinosaurs from the moment I watched The Land Before Time, and the Jurassic Park films were the next logical step. I watched them over and over again: even though I had nightmares about velociraptors for years, I still adored them.
When Jurassic World came along, I loved it. It seemed like a fabulous, natural continuation of the series, with new characters I immediately loved, and new, genetic-hybrid-related dilemmas (and subsequent perils) that really captured my imagination. To me, it was true to the original film’s ethos and direction.
Fallen Kingdom takes those themes and runs with them. Very fast, and very explosively. Of all the Jurassic films, this one certainly felt the most like an ‘action’ movie. But it still also retains the suspense, the fear, and the awe of the originals.
The premise of the film is pretty simple: since the events of the first Jurassic World film, Isla Nublar has been left to its own devices. The dinosaurs have developed their own ecosystem, their own prehistoric paradise away from humans. But that happy environment happens to be on a newly un-dormant volcano and they’re all about to become dinosaur toast. Re-extinction is coming. Nobody can decide what to do about them, Jeff Goldblum is back to be a brief portent of doom, the main characters from a couple of years ago have become dinosaur activists, the dinos are apparently up on some underground eBay, and chaos ensues.
The parallels to the second in the original trilogy (The Lost World) are clear. The dinosaurs are ‘free’ (to begin with), shenanigans reach the mainland USA, there’s a (balding) great white hunter. Like Jurassic World was to Jurassic Park, Fallen Kingdom takes things that step further on from The Lost World, and builds them bigger (and louder, and more teeth).
To spice things up a bit, there are the aforementioned explosions, plenty of fire, underwater escapades, a proper James Bond-esque mansion (complete with Russian villains) and the typical action movie Kid, this one falling somewhere between the somewhat useless Tim in the first film (a total Load if I ever saw one) and the resourceful Eric of the third. Plus some frankly adorable flashbacks that have made me want a pet baby Velociraptor. Yes, the girl who was absolutely terrified of them well into her teenage years.
I already know the true fanatics, the fandom purists, are going to be moaning – and not least because of the cute baby Velociraptors tugging at the old heartstrings. Sure, this segment of the franchise doesn’t have the subtlety and poise of the first films. It hammers its message home with a machine gun. Character development is sacrificed for more action, more overblown set pieces. And the setting up of a further sequel is so blatant as to be quite funny.
But I don’t care.
I love the main characters, Owen and Claire. I think the actors (ooh, I know these, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) have exactly the right kind of chemistry to make their on-screen relationship believable. I think the villains were cartoonist, but perfectly so (Toby Jones, see, I know the odd actor’s name – and his wig was hilarious).
More than anything, watching this film, I really felt for the dinosaurs. Yes, I have All The Feelings about CGI reptiles. In the first trilogy, no matter what was going on, most of the time, the dinosaurs were immediate the villains. The T-Rex, the Velociraptors, the Spinosaurus. But this new trilogy places the real villainy firmly in human hands, no matter whose claws may crawl creepily over a bedsheet. I honestly wouldn’t have been heartbroken about any of the human characters getting chomped, and I certainly wasn’t, but my heart pounded for Blue and for Rexie (YES THAT’S WHAT THE T-REX IS CALLED). And, of course, that Brachiosaurus.
I have one beef.
I was waiting, on the edge of my seat, for that fabulous moment where the helicopter pans over the island, and that sweeping Williams soundtrack crashes in. You know the one, the theme everyone knows and loves. Some of the most dramatic and iconic film music of all times.
But, and sorry to be a spoiler, but I wouldn’t want you disappointed: it doesn’t happen. Oh, the score is pretty good, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t move me as much as it usually does.
Except in The Brachiosaurus Scene.
My god, don’t talk to me about The Brachiosaurus Scene.
I’m still traumatised.
And yes, I know it was a cynical tearjerker engineered to punch wet blankets like me right in the throat, and the lingering, over-emotion of it will probably be totally cloying to, well, everyone else. But it certainly worked on me!
Oh, and one more thing that totally hasn’t been addressed and is a big gaping hole to a big gaping fan like me: WHAT HAPPENED TO ISLA SORNA? You know, Site B. The place where the entire second and third films of the first trilogy were set. I don’t know if I missed something, if it was brought up in passing and I’ll notice when I see it again, but is it still there? Was it firebombed? Is there still an island groaning with dinosaurs, happy, breeding dinosaurs, that everyone’s just completely ignoring? If anyone can enlighten me, please do.
Fallen Kingdom isn’t perfect. I’m certainly not saying that. It’s a daft, fun, blockbuster. If you try and get too deep about it, sure, you’ll be disappointed. But I came out of the cinema smiling, and wanting to see more. And to see it again. If that’s not a positive, then what is?