Forget going through a blue period or a rose period it seems as if blockbuster cinema is going through a marmite period. The Last Jedi and Solo both split Twitter and audiences alike. Why? Because both films played with expectations and conventions. They broke out of the box fandom had put them in and in turn sparked fury from some and joy from others.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom join that list of films that will create two camps of filmwatchers – the heralders and those that feel like a beloved part of their childhood has been destroyed. JWFK doesn’t just rip up the rulebook – it covers it with lava, stomps over it, locks it away and releases it. There are no rules here but, as a great man (the thinking woman’s crumpet Dr Malcolm) once said 25 (!!!) years ago, were the filmmakers so ‘preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should’?
The film opens three years after Jurassic World. Since the whole dinosaur idea went wrong – again – they’ve been left to it on the island. Except a volcano will soon be erupting which will destroy the last remaining dinosaurs leaving world leaders and government officials with a huge moral dilema – should the last living dinosaurs be saved or should nature dictate things once more? Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) leads the Dinosaur Protection Group which is determined not to leave the dinosaurs to this fate. When help comes in the form of a foundation lead by Mills (Rafe Spall) and Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) she’s beyond grateful. Except to make the rescue mission a success they’re going to need the help of a man good with raptors – but will Owen (Chris Pratt) be willing to leave the little bit of paradise he’s building for himself in the middle of nowhere?
To give you an idea of the film – that summary is only the first 10-15 minutes of the film. There’s another 110 minutes after that. And that’s exactly what makes JWFK so unlike it’s predecessors. Whilst the tropes are there, they’re not played in the ‘right’ order. And whether you think of the end product as sweet music (like the truly beautiful by Michael Giacchino) or a cacophony of mindlessness depends fully on how willing your ears and eyes are.
The previous films followed a set pattern that felt more ride than film as the franchise dragged on. To truly get the most out of JWFK you need to get onboard the ride and then endure a path that is so messy, bumpy and incoherent you need to be willing to let it just happen. This time around it’s not enough to simply suspend disbelief, you need to leave it at the cloak room when you arrive at the cinema and collect it again long after the credits role. (Side note: there is a very brief post credits moment).
Part heist movie, part sieges movie and part oh-really-what-now movie; the action is bigger, broader and badder (both meanings of the word) than ever before. There’s a tonal shift between adventure and gothic that is so apparent and audacious it seems to warrant a begrudging nod for the very fact they went there. Forgot Jurassic Park, expect Universal to be setting up a haunted house infested with dinosaurs any day now.
But it’s so stop/start you can’t help but wish for more threat or peril. But it’s so confused in its use of dinosaurs, seemingly unable to decide if they are friend or foe they seem to shift intermittently throughout (arguably just like human beings do…) But there’s also a whole array of ridiculously stupid science moments that stick out as being truly impossible – truly a mean feat in a film that has such pseudo-science at its very foundation. But the film is very heavily dependant on Chris Pratt’s quasi- Indiana Jones charisma; our Marty Sue yet again displays a never-ending and never-ceasing-to-surprise skills – every single one delivered with a quip and a smirk.
And yet, for all of those buts, there’s some infuritaitngly fun about the heights of ridiculousness the film reaches. Everytime you think it can’t be more, it is. And then some. Providing more specific details would spoil things for you. Suffice to say, for a film that has as many flaws as claws, there may just be enough flair to hold back the fatigue – for the time being anyway….
Dir: J.A. Bayona
Scr: Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly
Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Jeff Goldblum, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, BD Wong, Rafe Spall.
Prd: Belén Atienza, Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall
DOP: Oscar Faura
Run time: 128 minutes