Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

 

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The fifth instalment in the Jurassic Park franchise continues to deliver the thrills, with more than enough drama for your buck.

 

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

    

Life will find a way. And as Jurassic World (2015) has become the fifth highest-grossing film in history, so will Hollywood. In the ominous words of Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcom, “we’ve entered a new era.” Yet the formula remains the same. There is an ageing billionaire philanthropist, a gutsy heroine, a charismatic hunk, an unscrupulous bureaucrat and a child. With J.A. Bayona taking over the directorial reins from Colin Trevorrow, the child factor was a given. Bayona brought us the original The Orphanage (2007), steered Tom Holland to stardom in The Impossible (2012) and wheedled an extraordinary performance out of Lewis MacDougall in A Monster Calls (2016). Here, he’s invested the viewer’s emotional stake in Isabella Sermon, who plays Maisie Lockwood, the granddaughter of James Cromwell’s tycoon. And there’s nothing more gripping than seeing a child in jeopardy…

 

However, there’s not much to hold onto emotionally at the start. The volcano on the island of Isla Nublar – the site of the Jurassic World theme park – has erupted and there’s much debate as to the ethics of rescuing and relocating the prehistoric residents – which, depending on your stance, are an artificial lifeform. Inevitably, the tree-huggers win out – thanks, in part, to the altruism of James Cromwell – and soon the scene is set for a monster movie crossed with a disaster epic. And so our protagonists find themselves beset by man-eating beasts, streams of incendiary magma, lava fireballs and the usual roster of trigger-happy bad guys. This is seat-wetting, popcorn excitement, but the human element has yet to emerge. The most heart-wrenching moment is when a moaning Brachiosaurus is consumed in a cloud of volcanic ash. Then, in the second act, the film gets up close and personal, but you’ll find no spoilers here…

 

Much like the later Planet of the Apes films, the Jurassic World franchise is a superior animal. Besides the astonishing effects – you’ll believe a reptile can fly – the little touches separate the series out from the mediocre. When animal behaviouralist Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is reunited with Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing, he compliments her over a beer with the line, “your skin looks nice.” It’s an arresting, well-intentioned observation, and an original note of flattery you’d never find in a Transformers film. Likewise, when a baby raptor leaps off a shelf of dinosaur figurines, it proves to be a fleeting jump-scare, but a classy one. The film is chock-full of stylish visual flourishes, although the adrenalin level is never entirely pumped. It is, nonetheless, a wonderful formula: a thrill-ride set in the present age and on our own planet. But with dinosaurs. Throw in lashings of sexy science and the magnetic appeal of Pratt and Howard, and you have a slice of breathless escapism that ticks all its boxes with aplomb. There’s also a new dinosaur – the unpitying Indoraptor, a terrifying fusion of Indominus Rex and Velociraptor – so your sleepless nights are guaranteed.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum, Robert Emms, Peter Jason.

 

Dir J.A. Bayona, Pro Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley and Belén Atienza, Screenplay Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, Ph Óscar Faura, Pro Des Andy Nicholson, Ed Bernat Vilaplana, Music Michael Giacchino, Costumes Sammy Sheldon, Palaeontology Consultant Jack Horner.

 

Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/The Kennedy/Marshall Company/

Legendary Pictures-Universal Pictures.

128 mins. USA/Spain. 2018. Rel: 6 June 2018. Cert. 12A.