tue 25/06/2024

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review - dinosaurs in peril | reviews, news & interviews

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review - dinosaurs in peril

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review - dinosaurs in peril

Is it going to be extinction all over again for the prehistoric predators?

Chris Pratt as Owen Brady, ace dinosaur-wrangler, with baby Blue

I see critics elsewhere have been churlishly sticking the boot into this latest episode of the now quite venerable dinosaurs-reborn franchise (Steven Spielberg’s original arrived in 1993).

While this one isn’t a revolutionary transformation of the genre, and doesn’t seek to replicate the critique of Hollywood’s corporate consumerist culture which some imagined to be the subtext of 2015’s Jurassic World, it’s a perfectly serviceable summer blockbuster with some roof-rattling action scenes and the occasional brain-teasing idea for good measure.

With slightly unsettling contemporaneity, considering ongoing events in Hawaii and Guatemala, the set-up is that a cataclysmic volcanic eruption is threatening to annihilate all the dinosaurs remaining on Isla Nubar, the island home of the original tourist magnet Jurassic Park. There’s some philosophical debate about whether a rescue mission should be launched to save the reanimated reptiles – they may have been created from cloning, but are they not bona fide living creatures? – but the politicians eventually deliver the thumbs-down, and decree that the animals should be left to volcanic extinction.Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomOf course this isn’t good enough for the Dinosaur Protection Group, of which Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard, pictured above) is a leading light. As she’s trying to figure out how to save the assorted sauruses, she’s contacted by smarmy Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), who works for ancient and ailing billionaire philanthropist Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). He used to work with Jurassic Park’s creator John Hammond (Dame Dickie Attenborough, if you recall), and as a gesture of respect to his old buddy he wants to rescue the creatures and ship them to a secret island refuge where they can live in peace.

Great idea! Claire’s expertise in matters prehistoric will be crucial to the mission, and all they need now is to rope in her old amour Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), whose experience of raising the super-intelligent Blue from when she was a tiny and adorable dino-kitten will hopefully allow them to bring her back alive. Nothing can possibly go wrong. Well, once Claire has swept aside Grady’s pretence of indifference to the fate of the dinosaurs, at any rate. “You’re a better man than you think you are,” she tells him. “You should write fortune cookies,” he ripostes.

So suddenly we’re in the middle of soaring tropical-island scenery in the throes of volcanic armageddon, as Claire and Owen assist a bunch of unsavoury mercenary types to round up the animals. As screaming lava fireballs crash to earth around them, the beasts are rounded up, but it seems chief dino-wrangler Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine, exuding noxious serial-killer vibes) isn’t really much of an animal lover. Poor Blue gets injured, and Owen gets zapped with a tranquilliser dart. Scenes of the terrified animals stampeding away from the nuclear-style volcanic explosions are vividly realised, and a sequence where a lone brachiosaurus is left stranded on the dock, crying piteously as the volcanic fires close around him, is genuinely distressing.Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomAs you might imagine, Lockwood’s humanitarian – possibly not the right adjective, but whatever – mission is compromised by treachery and greed. There’s a deliciously shifty, weaselly turn from Toby Jones as a cynical animal-broker, auctioning the ‘saurs to a roomful of super-rich thrill-seekers and exploiters, no doubt much like the people who pay top dollar for white rhino horn or the fins hacked off living sharks. Director JA Bayona (A Monster Calls) amuses himself by turning old Lockwood’s gloomy, gothicky mansion into a revamped version of Stanley Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel, a cockpit of dread and nightmarish predators. Still, we could have done without the invention of the “Indoraptor”, a weaponised dinosaur hybrid which is just a flimsy rip-off of Robocop and the Universal Soldier, with added teeth and claws.

It’s a fun – mostly – night out, and by no means entirely dumb. Sadly the characterisations are mostly two-dimensional, though Chris Pratt has a human-punchbag likeability that could make him the natural heir to Brendan Fraser. Get the popcorn in.


There’s a deliciously shifty, weaselly turn from Toby Jones as a cynical animal-broker


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters