“Fallen Kingdom” does little more than to move us forward towards the story that we and the director are really interested in seeing. Not this director though, because the previous one was so uninterested in telling this story that he handed it off to someone else. “Fallen Kingdom” is more skillfully handled in its technical aspects than “Jurassic World” was, though we all know that being technically impressive isn’t enough to keep us entertained; and although feelings of nostalgia may have been strong enough to blind viewers from the weaker story elements of “Jurassic World,” the same can’t be said for its successor.
“Fallen Kingdom” asks many of the same questions that are asked in just about every “Jurassic Park” film: Can we really control nature? Are these prehistoric creatures more trouble than they’re worth? The answers have always been, no, we can’t control nature and yes, they’re deadly, yet these characters keep going back to the island and building new parks. Now the question is, given a natural extinction-level event, should we let the dinosaurs die? The obvious answer is yes, but we’re only in the second entry of a trilogy, so of course the answer is no. If there weren’t any saved, we wouldn’t have a third film.
One might think that an interesting conflict exists that could bridge the timeline between the events of “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World.” Goldblum’s Dr. Malcolm makes a return but is seriously underutilized despite his importance. The real issue is that the main characters aren’t conflicted about their own actions. Owen has his reservations, but the next morning shows up on a plane to put himself back in harm’s way. There’s no discussion between Owen and Claire that asks any sort of philosophical questions about whether what they’re doing violates nature or is even morally right. We ask ourselves that, but they don’t.
Is it so believable that Claire, an operations manager who witnessed countless deaths and destruction from the dinosaurs in her park, would start a non-profit to save those same dinosaurs from an exploding volcano? I would think that after such traumatic experiences, she’d want to stay as far away from that island as possible. I also must ask, why would they bring the dinosaurs back to America? There is another island, Isla Sorna (the dinosaurs were on Isla Nublar) that would work as a new habitat for them. Yet here we find ourselves having to accept a ridiculous second and third act that serves only to get us to the story that Colin Trevorrow really wants to tell – dinosaurs on the mainland!
If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s no problem. Watch the trailer and you’ll know everything you need to know. It’s basically a summary of the whole movie minus a surprising (if not far-fetched) twist involving the millionaire Lockwood’s granddaughter. If you don’t want to go that far, think in retrospect. If you saw “Jurassic World,” you more or less knew what was going to happen next. Dr. Wu, the geneticist responsible for creating dino hybrids, didn’t learn his lesson. He has created a new, scarier, more deadly raptor hybrid: the Indoraptor, as it is called. The military subplot of “Jurassic World” is expanded upon. There are some surprises in how this idea is pushed forward, but it’s not the most realistic or logical tale. Corporate greed is a lazy explanation for things gone awry.
For the most part, “Fallen Kingdom” is a bloodless horror film with dinosaurs. What saves it from being a bomb (despite its built-in audience) is its beautiful direction and cinematography, the skillfulness in the CGI use, and the charisma of its two leads. The writing is so contrived and without reason that even the most loyal of viewers should shake their heads. There are some very masterful shots that keep our eyes entertained, and there are some heart-pounding sequences that give some thrills, but the film lacks an emotional core or an interesting theme that gets us invested in the characters’ actions. For the course the film takes, I should have had a great deal more empathy built up for the dinosaurs and their human saviors, but I didn’t. Despite some heartbreaking shots of the harmless ones suffering, I’m left with the same foregone conclusion – let them die. If you want screams and roars, this is for you, but if you were hoping for something more, you’ll be disappointed.