Sunday, 10 June 2018

Jurassic World - Fallen Kingdom

Amber-ling Entertainment

Jurassic World - Fallen Kingdom
2018 USA Directed by J.A. Bayona
UK cinema release print.

Warning: Very minor spoilers.

Hmm... yeah. Okay this is not that great people. In fact... it’s far from good. I gave the previous entry of the five Jurassic Park films, Jurassic World, an okayish review (just here) but you can tell I was trying to be really kind to it and I said it was my fourth favourite of the bunch. This one... well, it’s not exactly terrible but, yeah, I guess this is my fifth favourite and it seems to be one of those franchises like Transformers or, to an extent, Pirates Of The Caribbean, which gets just a little bit worse each time around.

It’s pretty hard, I would have thought, to screw up a movie where giant dinosaurs run around eating people and, to be fair, this still holds true for this movie... kinda. Except there must be some real problems, it seems to me, when I find myself struggling to stop myself from looking at my watch during the movie.

Okay... so let me focus on the stuff they got right for a minute...

Well, the performances from returning actors Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are top notch and, even when they haven’t got great dialogue... and this is a film of a lot of scenes which don’t have great dialogue... they do an admirable performance in their roles here. As do co-stars Rafe Spall, Daniella Pineda and Justice Smith. Jeff Goldblum is, of course, always watchable but, as I suspected when I saw the trailer, he’s only in it for a couple of minutes at the start and a couple of minutes at the end so... not a great return for his character Ian Malcolm, to be honest. I was quite pleased when Toby Jones turns up as a nasty business man because the first thought you have is.. this guy is just here to get eaten. That’s almost his sole purpose in this movie... so that was another box ticked off.

Another positive is that the director seems to be making a concerted effort to design some nicely composed shots some of the time. There are cool examples of emphasising things by shifting focus and using sections at the edges of the screen in a few instances. So some nice, cinematic moments scattered throughout.

Okay so... that’s pretty much all the good stuff there.

Frankly, this film dragged quite a bit... even though it was full of action. Well, I say that... nothing much happens for the first twenty minutes or so but, once we get to the island, things go wrong for the main protagonists very quickly and heroes and villains are speedily identified. Everything is clearly marked but even the main characters seem to be acting like they have labels rather than names. Like many films, each character has their function but this movie makes it seem so obvious as to what role the characters are supposed to fulfil that you might as well just label them up... ‘velociraptor whisperer’, ‘high heel in peril girl’, ‘vet girl’, ‘button gal’, ‘computer guy’ etc. Everything slotted into place so obviously that there was nothing much to surprise you except... oh yeah... that one thing.

There’s a sleeper of a twist reveal which you kinda know is coming for the little girl played by Isabella Sermon as they keep dropping visual hints but... and this is a problem with a lot of things throughout the whole film... nobody, including the audience, really gets time to digest it when the big reveal is finally... um... revealed. And that’s a typical thing happening with this movie because, once the movie ramps up about 20 minutes or more in, there aren’t really that many pauses or time for reflection and suspense to build up before the next bus load of dino madness is upon us. So there’s no real weight or sense of terror lurking in the background and the suspense sequences feel just a little bit samey and anemic. Not something which has bothered me before when I see these things but it is a big problem here because this story really doesn’t have too much going for it. It really can’t afford to rollercoaster over those few good dramatic beats here and there in the way it does.

It’s interesting because this movie is much more graphic in its depiction of violence compared to the other Jurassic Park movies... it seems to me. Bearing in mind it’s a 12A rating in the UK, there’s a scene where half a guys arm gets pulled off while a dinosaur ‘toys with its food’ and another scene where you see a man ripped in half, Darth Maul style, between two dinosaur’s mouths. Now I’m not specifically blaming the director for what I’m about to say here but... you never really feel the violence and it shows just how beautifully crafted Steven Spielberg’s first two films in the franchise were because, with a minimum level of on screen goriness, you somehow feel the grizzly nature of violent death more in the way those are shot, edited and scored. Here, you see more but feel way less. Maybe a good demonstration of that old cliché ‘less is more’ in reverse here, it seems to me.

And talking of scoring. I love the majority of Michael Giacchino’s film music... heck, I even went to his birthday concert last year... but the music in this really is an unstoppable force and has a heck of a time trying to compete with the sound effects on this one. It seems simplistic and overpowering and, given the composers knack for weaving in other composers styles and melodies, the John Williams source material is barely referenced. In fact, there was probably more of it in the trailers than you got here and that’s just crazy because there are some real moments where the audience could benefit from the identification of those Williams themes to lift the emotions and, it just doesn’t really happen.

My one big, unforgivable mistake on this whole movie, however, happens within the first ten minutes or so and I was so angry about this that I could barely watch the next scene because my outrage was  persistent. In the early scenes they use a lot of BBC ‘newscast’ footage to recap the audience on what happened at certain points in the last movie as well as bring them up to speed as to what has happened in the couple of years chronologically between the two films. There were even scenes of people watching these broadcasts with their naked eyes and no special glasses... you know what’s coming don’t you? How in the heck are we supposed to believe that the BBC or whoever is broadcasting in 3D? Seriously, the TV footage stuff was all in 3D too and there’s absolutely no way that would happen. Popped me straight out of the movie. Just completely dumb. How is this stuff allowed to happen? I don’t even have the words to express my anger as to how a flat screen is suddenly able to magically broadcast in 3D. What were they thinking?

Also, while I’m at it... is it even possible for amber to break, let alone shatter from such a small distance? I think not, somehow.

So, yeah, I’ll just try and calm down now and say that... if you like the other Jurassic Park films then Jurassic World - Falllen Kingdom is probably going to hit some of the right buttons although, honestly, I’m getting really fed up with these now. There’s a post credit sequence which just underlines what you already know, which is that the producers obviously have a clear goal for the next movie in the series but, honestly, I’m just not sure I care what happens after this. A bit of a misfire but the kid inside you might like it. Or not. Who can tell? Give it a go and see what you think.

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