Thursday, June 28, 2018


25 years ago, I fell in love with a film for the first time, and in turn, fell in love with film as a whole.  Jurassic Park was everything to me.  It gave me a wonderful escape to a land I’d never experienced before, and it has stuck with me for two and a half decades.  And over those years, I’ve seen several sequels come and go, none living up to sheer awe and wonder of the original.  But Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom managed to do the next best thing by evoking the essence of the first film while bringing something wholly new to the franchise.

Fallen Kingdom takes us back to where it all began - Isla Nublar - where the dinosaurs’ lives are being threatened by the looming eruption of the island’s no-longer-dormant volcano.  We see the return of Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, reprising their roles as Owen and Claire from Jurassic World, who are sent to the island to help evacuate the stranded dinosaurs to a new, safe location, set up by John Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood.  It was great to see these two back for this, as it gave the audience a glimpse into their lives, post-Jurassic World.  Claire has taken up the political route, fighting for the dinosaurs’ right to live, just like any other endangered species.  Owen, on the other hand, is just trying to live the simple life, away from everything, where he can forget about the past.  Although, this turns out to be harder than he’d thought when Claire comes looking for his help.

This is, by far, my favorite Jurassic Park film since the original.  It managed to mirror some of the most classic scenes of the original film (and even The Lost World), eliciting a strong sense of nostalgia, but in the best way possible.  We see beautiful interpretations of scenes like the raptors in the kitchen, the scene where Dennis is attempting to deliver the canister of samples in the rain, and even the system reboot scene.  But even though some of these felt like they were ripped right from the other films, I loved it.  It hooked me and made me want more, but it was the new and unique scenes that kept me on that hook.

The first act of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom felt pure to what Jurassic Park was at its core.  Being on the island, seeking out these creatures, it’s a beautiful, yet terrifying idea, one that most people would never fathom allowing themselves to take part in, yet I always find myself becoming engrossed in it.  But here we have the added hitch of an erupting volcano, which makes for some great tension and some extremely gorgeous shots.  Part of me wishes the entire movie had been about Owen and Claire trying to save the dinosaurs before the island erupted, but I think, in the end, that wouldn’t have been nearly as gratifying as this.  It would’ve just been more of the same, and I think that’s where the division of the audience comes in.

To me, this reminded me of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, not in terms of story so much, but more in terms of the arc within this trilogy and the response it evoked.  To some, this just felt like filler between the first and third installments, creating a situation that just gets worse by the end, but for me, I saw it as a shift from the norm toward a brand new direction, a direction this franchise needed to go in order to truly blossom.  This film took chances, some successful and some not, and the ones that worked pushed this franchise to a whole new place.  Seeing the world at the end of this film be forever changed is bold storytelling and has had me wracking my brain trying to figure out where they’ll go from here.  And this is wonderful.  I love it when I don’t know where the next film will go.  I prefer to be surprised, and I definitely think I’ll be surprised when the next film hits theaters.

Now, not everything in this film worked for me, such as the stark contrast between the first act and the rest of the film.  This wasn’t a huge deal to me, however, but it was noticeable.  I also felt like Michael Giacchino’s score didn’t quite fit for a Jurassic Park film.  At times it felt more like a Star Wars movie, which can be understandable as he has worked on one, but he needs to be careful when scoring other big blockbuster films, as to not just stick to that style.  John Williams scored most of the Star Wars films, yet his other scores are unique to the film.  I did, however, love the moments when Giacchino intertwined Williams' themes into his own.  It really took me back to the original.

Another thing that was a bit off was some of the “villain characters” during the auction sequence.  Some of them felt a bit cartoony, causing them to not come off as realistic characters.  However, the scene as a whole was one I enjoyed, as the idea of trafficking these dinosaurs to the highest bidder was fascinating to me.  It’s a situation I fully believe could happen if these creatures existed today.  Humanity’s avarice runs rampant all over, and black market auctions like this would be no surprise.  

The last negative I had is a minor one, but I just wish we had gotten more practical effects, and a bit less. CGI.  The perfect mixture of the two is what made Jurassic Park so iconic and memorable, and this is definitely something that was missing here.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the CGI that was used was great.  The dinosaurs looked awesome, particularly the Indoraptor, and there were very few moments where the CGI was really noticeable in a bad way, but I still would’ve loved more practical effects.  Also, give me more Jeff Goldblum!!!

Overall, I really enjoyed this film.  Was it as frightening as the original? No, and that’s alright.  I don’t come to these films to be frightened, they aren’t horror films, instead I watch them to be entertained, and this one delivered.  So, if you are a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise, give this one a chance.  You might just end up really enjoying it.

The Merc’s Score: 8.5/10

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