Almost 25 years ago today Steven Spielberg brought us the first Jurassic Park, a film that built upon his already unassailable reputation as the king of blockbusters while at the same time introducing us to a whole new era of CG animation. Since then we’ve had three more films in the franchise, with each one repeating the same story arc and failing to deliver the goods.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the second in the current series, following on the from the 2015 sequel that saw us return to another theme park before the dinosaurs broke free and wreaked havoc on the island. Three years on we hear that Masrani Global (the company in charge of the park) has paid out $800m in damages and Isla Nublar has run into ruin, with the dinosaurs roaming free on the island.
However, a giant volcano is close to erupting and likely to wipe out the creatures and a fierce debate over whether to save them or let nature take its course continues to rage. The heroine of the first film, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), is now working on a campaign to protect the dinosaurs before being asked by billionaire Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) and his slippery assistant Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) to take a team back to the island as part of a rescue mission. Blue is the only remaining Velociraptor still alive and they need to enlist the help of his handler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), to capture him.
As you can imagine, once they arrive on the island very little goes to plan and it becomes a series of close scrapes as they come face-to-face with the dinosaurs roaming the island. The difference this time is that the brutal, cold-hearted monsters are not of the reptilian kind. Rather, it is the humans who are depicted as the savages with the DNA creatures seen as the victims.
There is a good idea rooted somewhere within the story of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom but it is buried under a never-ending stream of action sequences. In a time when keeping wild animals in captivity is a concept increasingly frowned upon by society, there was an opportunity to reflect on why the characters in this world were part of a giant theme park that paraded man-made dinosaurs purely for corporate greed.
It barely touches upon that idea and instead runs through the usual narrow escapes from outstretched claws and jaws without taking a moment to catch its breath. The vast majority lack the tension and excitement needed to make a film like this work, with director B.A.Bayona mostly running through the motions.
The CG dinosaurs may look more realistic than ever but the storytelling is reflective of many modern-day blockbusters that take no time to invest in its characters and focus almost entirely on the spectacle. There was a sense of wonder about watching these fantastic creatures roaming the screen in the first Jurassic Park and we’ve been subjected to the same repetitive story so many times that it has lost its edge. But while it continues to clean up at the box office with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, we shouldn’t expect anything but a mess on screen.