Do you still remember the first time you saw a live-action dinosaur on the silver screen? We all had read about them in books, some of us had seen the bones in museums but we never were able to create the complete image on our own until Steven Spielberg took us on that unforgettable adventure that was 65 million years in the making, changed the landscape of cinema forever, and made us fall in love with these extinct creatures on first sight. That moment in Jurassic Park when we have our first encounter with Brachiosaurus, it still dazzles us in ways very few films have been capable of. And for many of us, this is where our love affair with cinema began.
25 years later, the theme park is gone. The once realistic-looking dinosaurs are gone. That sense of wonder when embarking on a larger-than-life adventure is gone. That sheer joy & excitement felt when watching a dinosaur on-screen is gone. In fact, everything that was actually good about this dino franchise went away when the series was revived back in 2015 and the writers went ahead with a genetically engineered hybrid as the main antagonist when there were already so many formidable dinosaur species to choose from. Riding almost entirely on nostalgia, Jurassic World grossed over a billion dollars and yet everything about it was disappointing, be it the plot, characters, dialogues, VFX or dino action. And this latest chapter in the saga is even worse.
Set 3 years after the events of the last film, the story of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom follows Owen & Claire as they return to Isla Nublar with some more annoying characters in an attempt to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from an extinction-level event after the dormant volcano on the island becomes active again. Believing that the dinosaurs will be relocated to another island sanctuary, Owen helps the mercenaries in locating the raptor he raised but soon discovers a conspiracy that could ultimately disrupt the natural order of the world. With Isla Nublar in ashes and rescued dinosaurs en route to U.S. mainland for a different purpose, the two try to stop the greedy corrupt people from deciding the fate of these creatures but encounter a new monster created in their labs.
Directed by J.A. Bayona (best known for The Orphanage & The Impossible), the second chapter in the Jurassic World trilogy actually makes its predecessor look good, and that’s saying something. By far the worst entry in the saga and easily amongst the most lifeless & soulless blockbusters to surface in theatres in recent years, Fallen Kingdom is pathetic on all levels. Though there is an attempt for a darker tone, the end product is indiscriminately dull. The opening segment is actually impressive, even promising to an extent, but what follows is just the same half-baked stuff like last time, only executed in a worse fashion. The first half plays like a theme park adventure while the other half is a monster movie set in a mansion. But it suffers from same set of issues that plagued the first film.
It’s as if the writers simply came up with a plot outline and then filled it with dinosaurs here n there instead of actually digging in deeper to make the story compelling & human interactions interesting. Not a single person in the story is worth caring about, except for Jeff Goldblum who returns as Ian Malcolm but his is a cameo so it doesn’t count. They all keep making the silliest mistakes, the repercussions of which are predictable from a mile away. The few twists it has in store are revealed in such a dull fashion that it doesn’t even add anything to the experience. The supporting characters are awful, every single one of them, and the young cast is absolutely cringeworthy. There’s no atmosphere, no build-up, no suspense, no danger, no feeling of awe or amazement, and whatever action does exist, it only comes off as superficial & superfluous.
One thing I remember complaining about Jurassic World is that despite years of advancement in CGI technology, the dinosaurs in Spielberg’s films looked much more realistic than Trevorrow’s film. Fallen Kingdom reaffirms that remark as the VFX ranges from terrific to laughable in the sequel as well. The main antagonist, once again a genetically modified breed, isn’t even remotely intimidating. With Bayona at director’s helm, one would expect the film to have this dark flair he’s known for but the material is too weak for it to be aptly executed. Performances are just as mediocre as last time, if not more, so I wouldn’t even talk about it. But Jeff Goldblum still has that charisma, which makes his bookended appearance possibly the only good thing in this mess. Michael Giacchino contributes with a brilliant score to signify the new direction this saga is headed for but the images betray the seriousness of his tracks.
On an overall scale, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom adds nothing new to the saga and fails at even the basic aspects of storytelling to finish as a bland, tedious & uninspiring entry in a series that ran its course a long time ago and shouldn’t have been revived in the first place. An amalgamation of lazy direction, shoddy writing, bland performances & dull dinosaur action that attempts to conceal its shortcomings with vibrant photography yet effortlessly fails at it, Fallen Kingdom is best suited for those viewers who would buy everything as long as a dinosaur is thrown into the mix. Experimenting with big ideas yet far too ill-equipped to handle them in a sophisticated fashion, it’s a forgettable addition to a franchise that doesn’t have that sense of awe, wonder & amazement anymore. Certainly amongst the worst films of 2018, undeniably the weakest instalment in the saga, and a hell of an atrocious adventure I’d never want to visit again, Fallen Kingdom did what none of its predecessors could: make dinosaurs boring. Stay away from this turd. You have been warned.