Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

JWFK

In 2015, the first Jurassic World divided audiences and critics between those who enjoyed it for what it was, namely a visually entertaining popcorn flick seasoned with nostalgia, and those who felt it was sorely lacking in terms of the heart that made the original film compelling beyond its superficial appeal as a dinosaur rampage movie. With director J.A. Bayona receiving substantial praise for both past efforts like The Orphanage as well as the more recent A Monster Calls, there is no doubt that the director would bring a certain degree of visual competence to the Jurassic World sequel.

And it does indeed start very well with a thrilling and atmospheric opening sequence that gives the viewer a taster of director J.A. Bayona’s talents as a visual storyteller, just as this sequence also serves as a paraphrasing of the extended ending of the original Jurassic Park, which never made it beyond the storyboard phase back in the day. While it takes a while, such sequences soon prove to be plentiful, which will undoubtedly thrill many viewers, however, some may find Bayona’s approach too tonally distant from the original, as the Spanish director brings an almost gothic fairytale flavor to several of these set pieces.

As we are reintroduced to the protagonists of the 2015 film, the plot begins to unfold, or rather what little and messy plot there is. Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt are likable due to their natural, individual onscreen presence, but neither is afforded much character development. Except for the exposition-dumping we get – courtesy of a few archive clips of Pratt’s Owen documenting how he forms a bond with his velociraptor Blue when she was merely a cuddly little ball of razor-sharp teeth, claws and killer instinct – nothing else is done to explore the bond between man and prehistoric beast; and that is an awful shame as that would have given the film a distinct, if silly, charm that many dinosaur enthusiasts would have thoroughly enjoyed.

Likewise, nothing is done to further flesh out the relationship between Owen and Claire, as these characters have no interesting exchanges once the action kicks into gear, resulting in non-existent character arcs for a duo that has plenty of potential. New characters are also introduced without taking more than the absolute bare minimum of time to flesh them out, resulting in a handful of underdeveloped supporting characters reminiscent of the equally bland supporting cast featured in Jurassic World. As a result, there is a sinful waste of talent all around, which leaves the viewer unable to invest in any of the human characters, and by proxy the various plot twists and film premise as a whole, as one eventually begins to realize that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has little else to offer than a string of unevenly executed action set pieces.

While Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is undoubtedly leagues better than the eternally abysmal Jurassic Park 3, it still feels like a hollow shell that captures none of the magic of the original, much like it also completely wastes the potential one after all has with cast members such as Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall and Toby Jones. Arguably, Jurassic Park was also a relentless thrill ride with seemingly never-ending perils for our protagonists to face, but what made the viewer engage with that film was the combination of the marvelous technical achievements of Stan Winston’s team and the humanity that Steven Spielberg so competently injected into the 1993 original. What we are left with this time around may be equally relentless on a purely superficial level, but there is nothing there for the viewer to engage with emotionally, making Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom regrettably disengaging narratively, even for someone like yours truly, who never outgrew the obligatory childhood obsession with all things dinosaurs.

Verdict: 5 out 10.

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Review: Avengers: Infinity War

AIW

Whether you have been casually enjoying the last 10 years of entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a regular moviegoer or have more extensive knowledge of the MCU characters and their comic book origins, everyone can surely agree that stringing together all of these characters and storylines is a monumental task. There are a myriad of elements to be made sense of, linked together and expanded upon in order to fit into a greater whole, and those who are invested in the MCU will be particularly pleased with Avengers: Infinity War, as the Russo Brothers have managed to create a superhero blockbuster of truly epic proportions.

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Review: A Quiet Place

AQP

With marketing campaigns so often ruining the mystery of movies by essentially using trailers as a super cut of the story and often also too many of its twists, the restraint applied to the marketing campaign for A Quiet Place has ensured that the film maintains its mystery until the audience actually sees it unfold on the big screen. In keeping with that restraint, nothing pertaining to the specifics of the plot will therefore be revealed in this review, but there is still much to be said for the film nonetheless.

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Review: Isle of Dogs

IoD

Wes Anderson’s affinity for symmetrical cinematography and vibrantly colored production design has always been his signature aesthetic, and his second animated feature bears all the trademarks of the director’s distinct style. Much like Fantastic Mr. Fox managed to impress both as a Wes Anderson film as well as a stop motion feature, Isle of Dogs is of a similarly high standard. Boasting a roster of Anderson’s frequent and very famous collaborators, the voice acting is as superbly eclectic as the narrative in this stop motion animated feature for eccentric kids of all ages.

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Review: Ready Player One

RPO

For decades, Steven Spielberg has been responsible for many a fond movie memory being created in the minds of lovers of relentless sharks, rampaging dinosaurs and adventurous archaeologists with a knack for punching Nazis, and there are therefore understandably high expectations for what Spielberg can do with something as highly imaginative as the world of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. In the film adaptation of the bestselling novel, we are, much like the book, introduced to a dystopian world in the near future where people escape the misery of their lives by entering the virtual reality realm knows as The Oasis, and it is within this realm that the majority of the film plays out.

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Review: Mom and Dad

MaD

One of many the tropes associated with the horror genre is that killing children and animals is generally considered a faux pas since it may alienate mainstream audiences. As such, more hardcore horror fans therefore also tend to find this particular trope one of the most tedious ones, as it tends to somewhat lower the sense of suspense and danger associated with any horror film that features young children amongst its protagonists.

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André Gower and Ryan Lambert talk The Monster Squad

André Gower and Ryan Lambert

Ever since those fateful Easter weekend screenings of The Monster Squad at Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, in 2006, André Gower and Ryan Lambert – who played Sean and Rudy, respectively – have had plenty to do. Coming directly from a 17-day tour that encompassed visiting 17 Alamo Drafthouse theaters across America, their efforts have finally brought them to the cinematic oasis that is the Prince Charles Cinema in London, England.

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