‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ lacks the bite of its predecessor

Andy Moser, Features Editor

The park is gone. And unfortunately, so is most of the fun. Fallen Kingdom is comparatively smaller, quieter and contains much less teeth than 2015’s Jurassic World, not to mention the magically fearsome original.

A few years after the events of the previous installment, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) return to the now-demolished Jurassic World park to track down and save their beloved velociraptor, Blue. After director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls) fights his way through tedious exposition, Fallen Kingdom actually gets off to an uproarious start that features an erupting volcano and dinosaurs as far as the eye can see.

This is arguably when this blockbuster is at its biggest. From there, the action and story get increasingly more confined, which works against it. The story takes the dinosaurs from the openness and unpredictability of the island jungles and places them in…a mansion? Here, Fallen Kingdom suffocates itself. There’s no room for the dinosaurs (its best characters) to do anything except wait, which is precisely what the audience must do, as well. If there were more in the characters to latch onto, this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem.

Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Jurassic Whatever… has always been fantasy, which means there is a decent level of ridiculousness that’s automatically permitted. However, Fallen Kingdom may have broken the scale on that particular metric with what appeared to be structured as some sort of prehistoric fashion show during the second act. International criminals are called to the mansion where dinosaurs are brought out one-by-one to be evaluated by rich people. Unfortunately, the dinos are all in cages, dashing anyone’s hopes of seeing a T-rex (AKA our QUEEN of the Cretaceous) sissy that walk down the runway to “Work B**ch” by Britney Spears before subsequently chomping some guy’s head off. An opportunity missed, perhaps.

Universal Pictures

Finally, a character inevitably makes a disastrously stupid move, and the most dangerous dinosaur is set free to wreak havoc on a bunch of evil millionaires. From this point, Fallen Kingdom takes a horror-genre angle to its story (as opposed to its predecessor, which reflected a more action/adventure vibe). It’s dark, stormy, and instead of loud, explosive set pieces, we look for shadows on the wall and shudder at the sound of creaking floorboards as our protagonists tip-toe around danger and out of sight of a tactful carnivore.

It takes a while to get there, but for the most part, it works. Still, this structure proves to be less satisfying than the open-world thrills that sustained the first Jurassic World film— a blockbuster that embraced the idea of being big, dumb and fun. Fallen Kingdom, however, can really only promise the second item on that list.

Sails: 2.5/5


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