Buvette Masthead

Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Roslyn Hull

Three years after the Jurassic World theme park was closed down, Owen and Claire return to Isla Nublar to save the dinosaurs when they learn that a once dormant volcano on the island is active and threatening to extinguish all life there. IMDb

I am actually a little surprised at just how good this is – although I shouldn’t be – but more about that later. First, a little whine.

Do you remember a time, long ago but in a galaxy quite near, when a trilogy was a rare and exciting thing?

I do and I admit we were the ones who fouled the water, we loved them so much they took over the world. And accountants took over the film industry.

As anyone who reads my reviews knows, I absolutely love lots of franchises: Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and many more … but some days it feels like no one gambles with creativity anymore – sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes, universes and series world domination get all the headlines.

Take this week as an example. It’s prime family movie going season (cold outside and school holidays). Cinemas are either making special events out of screening old Pixar and Disney films or they are encouraging families to see sequels. Six out of the nine films at my local cinema are sequels. Including this latest dino feature.

That doesn’t mean the films are bad (in fact, I’ve been told The Incredibles 2 is excellent) I just wonder where the new ideas are?

But back to the velociraptors and Chris Pratt.

This is everything a big budget adventure fantasy film should be. It’s a hell of a ride, with edge-of-your-seat moments, great screams (not all from girls), laughs and a very good story. Colin Trevorrow is a writer to watch – he even learnt how animatronics worked so he could write scenes between humans and dinos successfully. He and co-writer Derek Connolly are integral to the success of this film and the one before it.

Whilst everyone loves seeing dinosaurs as real as movie magic can make them, it is the writing that is the real success. It adds such quality to a big budget SFX fest with tiny moments of humour, pathos and fear. The camera focuses on Bryce Dallas Howard’s stylish but very practical boots (she spent the last movie running in heels), it lingers on a brachiosaur left on the dock and we watch the lava and pyroclastic cloud consume it (generating real sympathy across the audience) and the evil franken-dino is way too human for comfort.

However, the really horrible villains are, quite rightly, the humans. A good example of writing meeting instinctive direction, I think.

Spanish director J.A. Bayona made the excellent A Monster Calls, the Guillermo Del Toro produced fright flick The Orphanage and tsunami story The Impossible. Not a bad scorecard so far – and his touch carries just the right weight with this story.

It goes without saying that there are special effects but what impressed me was the decision to rely on animatronics for the up-close-and-personal scenes. Apparently Blue had 12 puppeteers operating everything from her sweat glands and eye dilation to tails flicks and growls. It works, it gives us a real emotional connection with creatures that we can never actually see at a zoo.

There are actors, a small band its true, but not one of them wastes any screen time. Geoff Goldblum’s cameo is central to the context of the film but Howard and Pratt are the undoubted stars (I loved the old vids of Owen and baby Blue the velociraptor). They have great support. Toby Jones is so oily he slides, Ted Levine is all crust and violence, Rafe Spall could be a good guy, or at least keeps us guessing for a while, and Justice Smith is a real standout as the geek.

However, the character I really enjoyed was Maisie, played by unknown Brit Isabella Sermon. She is a believably frightened child yet has enough chutzpah to save herself if needed.

All in all an exciting, involving afternoon at the movies.

Feature image: facebook.com/pg/JurassicWorldAU

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Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author