I went into this one not expecting to like it. I didn’t care for Jurassic World, and frankly I only saw this one because it was showing at a time that was convenient for a babysitter. But, to my surprise, I liked it. Well, part of it.
My problem with Jurassic Park as a franchise, is that there’s no need for it. Films pitting modern humans against dinosaurs go back to the silent era. Check out The Lost World, King Kong, The Valley of Gwangi, One Million Years BC, King Dinosaur, etc, etc. Jurassic Park was a step ahead of all of those movies technically. But in terms of story all it really added to the ‘humans vs dinosaurs’ canon was ‘in an amusement park.’ And that was fine, and it really was a good movie and deserves the love it gets.
Trouble is, the sequels didn’t need to happen. We could have just had more human/dinosaur movies with cool CG but without having to attach them to Jurassic Park. You could even have Jeff Goldblum in all of them. It’s allowed. But while the decision to connect all these films to Jurassic Park probably made good marketing sense, it had the effect of limiting the writers’ options and basically inviting comparisons to a far superior movie.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom gets around that, and in a completely weird way. Its strength is its third act, which is doubly odd because it didn’t need a third act. The first act is about rescuing the dinosaurs from the island, ending with a betrayal as we realise that the rescue was a fraud to steal the creatures. Second act ends with the baddies’ attempt to sell the dinosaurs brought to an end by an over-the top dino rampage. So the entire story was basically completed by the end of the second act, but since this would have brought the run time down a third act was tacked on.
Usually, it’s bad when a film does this, but this time that third act rocks! The film suddenly stops being film made by people trying to emulate Spielberg and goes all Guillamo del Toro. It’s basically a Gothic thriller about an orphan girl with a mysterious past being chased around a creepy Victorian mansion.
And yes, she’s being chased by the latest version of the ultra-velociraptor or whatever. But my point is, this is the first Jurassic Park film since the first to do something genuinely new with the old ‘humans vs dinosaurs’ trope. ‘Gothic’ simply isn’t a mode that dinosaur movies work in, and it’s slightly boggling that the idea seems to have come from people grasping at straws because they are all out of sensible suggestions.
Also, cameo by Jeff Goldblum. Just sayin’.