Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - scarier and more intense than its predecessors
This is the second of the Jurassic World reboots and the fifth outing for the dinosaurs since Stephen Spielberg's 1993 original. It's clear we've not had enough of dinosaurs and to be honest, there is something almost nostalgic about the JP world. Director JA Bayona taps into this with passing shots of ruined jeeps from the original film. He also re-enacts the awe and wonder of our first introduction to the dinosaurs when a brachiosaurus strolls across in front of our party of trusty scientists and environmental saviours (commonly known as dino-fodder).
So where are we? It's three years since the events in Jurassic World and the dinosaurs are roaming around their island freely. A volcano on the island threatens to destroy all life, wiping out the dinosaurs for a second time in history. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet. Do our heroes save the day? Well, as with all of the JP films, they escape and we are left with enough open threads and unfinished business for the next film installment.
There is a lot going on in this film: much more than in any other JP film. We have an underused Jeff Goldblum returning as Dr Ian Malcolm, once again espousing chaos theory and advocating to the US Congress that the dinosaurs should be let die. It's interesting that it has taken five films for the "authorities" to get involved. One wonders what the UN has been doing for twenty-odd years.
Environmentalism is to the fore. Claire Dearing, once theme park manager, is now a campaigning environmentalist seeking to save the dinosaurs. She is still as feisty as ever except this time wearing sensible boots. It's these touches by JA Bayona that endear the film to me. There is no dialogue, just a close-up of Dearing's boots as she plants her feet on the ground after jumping out of a truck. It's a nice wink to some of the absurdities in the last film.
As always, the evil business man trope is present. It is as constant in these films as the dinosaurs themselves. Someone is looking to exploit the dinosaurs for biological or militaristic purposes - again. James Cromwell turns up as Ben Lockwood who is introduced as a partner of Dr Hammond (Richard Attenborough's character from the first film). Lockwood's business manager (played by Rafe Spall) is up to no good. We are also introduced to Lockwood's granddaughter and without giving anything away, she becomes our first loose thread for a possible future film.
Suffice to say, everything goes wrong and there is lots of running, screaming and munching on humans.
Director JA Bayona (who previously brought us A Monster Calls, The Orphanage and several episodes of the excellent Penny Dreadful) has the reins here and it's clear from the outset we are in safe hands. The opening underwater scene sets the dark tone for the rest of the film. We are in the world of the dinosaurs and the humans are just along for the ride. Throughout the film, Bayona leverages his horror film expertise to build tension. The scene with the dinosaur (name and type omitted as it would be a spoiler) entering Lockwood's granddaughter's bedroom, from a balcony, through the net curtains is the stuff of nightmares and worth the price of admission alone. Some reviewers refer to is as the "Nosferatu moment" and I tend to agree. It is deliciously evil and my take-away memory from the film.
Sub-texts abound in this installment and I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'm looking forward to the next film. Please leave JA Bayona in charge! It is scarier than previous JP films and while carrying a 12A certificate, I suggest it is the very upper-end of 12A.
Order me a big bucket of popcorn and bring it on again!