Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (4 Stars)

This is the fifth film in the Jurassic Park franchise, and the second film in a planned Jurassic World trilogy. It picks up the story three years after the last film. At the end of "Jurassic World" the theme park on Isla Nubar was destroyed, allowing the animals to run wild. This film begins with the threat of a volcanic eruption that will destroy all living creatures on the island, making dinosaurs extinct once more. This leads to interesting ethical debates. While some conservationists say that endangered species should be protected, others say that they were artificially created species, so they don't have the right to be protected. I personally would argue for a third standpoint: the dinosaurs were artificially created once, so instead of investing vast amounts of money and human lives in a rescue mission they should be allowed to become extinct again, because they can be recreated again at any time.

After seeing the trailers I was excited by the film's premise. The mixture of volcanoes and dinosaurs gives me flashbacks of the vintage dinosaur films like "One Million Years B.C." and "The People that Time Forgot". All that's missing is Raquel Welch and Dana Gillespie running around in skimpy bikinis. No such luck. That would have been a perfect role for Christina Hendricks.

The film is divided into two halves. In the first part a military team travels to the island to rescue the dinosaurs and transport them to a nearby uninhabited island. Owen Grady (played once more by Chris Pratt) leads a smaller team to capture Blue, the only surviving Velociraptor.

In the second part we see that the story about the uninhabited island was a lie. The dinosaurs have been transported to California to be auctioned to international bidders who want to breed the dinosaurs as weapons. Owen has smuggled himself onto a plane to the auction and tries to stop it succeeding.

"Fallen Kingdom" succeeds in what it sets out to do, and it won't disappoint anyone who liked the last four films. It takes the existing story and develops it in logical directions. There are no big surprises, but we don't need any. The film's ending, which I won't describe here, prepares the way for the sixth film.

The dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park films have always looked remarkably realistic, but in this film I noticed a leap in quality, especially in the close-up scenes. I thought this was because of an improvement in computer technology over the last three years, but after reading about the film I found out there's another reason. "Fallen Kingdom" uses more animatronics than any of the previous films. It might be an older technology than pure computer animation, but in certain circumstances it can produce better results.

My biggest complaint about the film, and I agree that it's just a minor quibble, is the appearance of Benjamin Lockwood. It's very late in the film series to introduce a new character and tell us that he was around from the beginning. If Richard Attenborough hadn't died John Hammond would have been in the script. Lockwood is just an artificial stand-in. I'm sure the script could have been written differently to do without him.

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