Watching Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is like watching a film with two parts of my brain. One half is thinking, this is kind of fun. And the other half is thinking is it though? That’s what this film was like for me. It was a constant battle between the critical filmmaker’s mind and the normal movie enjoyer. I saw the film with my auntie, mum, and sister. It was a family excursion and celebration. After the film finished, the general consensus was that it was fun. That it was a good time. That it had some good moments and was entertaining. My initial feeling was the complete opposite.
The film is directed by J.A Bayona, with a script from Colin Trevorrow who directed the previous film in the franchise. To me, it’s like we traded a better director for an even sillier and more lacking script than the last. Bayona is talented. He knows what he is doing. There’s a moment in the film, a chase you could say, where it feels like the tension could be ratchetted up by having us stay in the shots for a little longer. Immediately, Bayona knows we are thinking that and gives us a huge long shot that lasts an unbearably long time, making my skin crawl and knuckles grow white. It’s exactly the kind of shot we needed at exactly the right time and goes to show that Bayona knows how to create a tense action scene.
The film is filled with many tense, well-directed scenes that feel better than the movie they’re placed in. And here-in lies the problem with the story of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The plot of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is ludicrous. It is absolutely insane. I don’t mind ludicrous plots, plenty of films I like, or love, have insane plots, (take any Marvel film for instance) but the problem is the film doesn’t feel real or believable at any point.
The characters feel so paper thin, as though they’re going to be knocked over by a gentle wind. Chris Pratt’s hero character is a hero, Bryce Dallas Howard’s female hero, is a female hero (very pointedly not wearing heels this time around). They’re all just very average and entirely expected. They don’t do anything. Instead of them being active characters involved in the story, they’re just pulled from one plot point to another. They feel like they don’t belong in this story, as though they were thrown into it without much purpose for being there. By all means the acting is good, all the performances feel authentic and genuine, they’re just not given much to do.
I don’t really know what else to say about this film. I feel like my critical mind is being mean to a film that is just for fun. But the original Jurassic Park wasn’t just for fun. It was a great piece of filmmaking and art, that captured the amazing awe of seeing a dinosaur for the first time.
This film struggles to try and recapture the majesty of dinosaurs that was established and, frankly, perfected in previous films. Occasionally, in rare well-made moments, it succeeds. Occasionally, some moments actually pulled at my heartstrings and made me tear up a little bit. There are even sequences of unbridled joy and terror, like getting blood from a sleeping T-Rex.
So how should I end this? I know I sound like a little bit of a pompous film-nut, but I just want films to hold themselves to a higher standard than ‘just a bit of entertaining fun’. But by all means, go see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. If not to see a perfectly made film, then to see a film with genuinely, intelligently-made moments buried under several layers of nonsense.
Written by Gaden Sousa.