- Emma Simmonds
- 6 June 2018
Those dinosaurs are at it again in this overloaded but entertaining fifth entry in the franchise
‘Save the dinosaurs from an island that’s about to explode. What could go wrong?’ quips raptor wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), knowing full well the answer is quite a bit, and fast, in a film that lays its disaster on with a digger.
Spanish helmer JA Bayona (A Monster Calls, The Impossible) takes the reins of the fifth film in the Jurassic Park series and second in the planned Jurassic World trilogy. Scripted by the previous instalment’s writer-director Colin Trevorrow, with another returning scribe Derek Connolly, it heads here there and everywhere in its desperate quest for thrills: a volcanic eruption, weaponised dinosaurs, an old dark house, Ted Levine channelling his Silence of the Lambs creep Buffalo Bill, evil billionaires, Toby Jones’s terrifying teeth.
The dispiritingly bombastic opening act sees Owen and his ex, former Jurassic World theme park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), return to the overrun Isla Nublar in an attempt to rescue the remaining dinosaurs. When that doesn’t exactly go to plan the creatures are transported to the vast estate of John Hammond’s original dinosaur cloning partner Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), where all kinds of monstrous things are happening in the basement at the behest of Lockwood’s weaselly assistant Eli (Rafe Spall).
There are enough ideas here, and earnestly delivered lessons about conservation and man’s capacity for greed and destruction; the film even positions itself on the anti-Trump side of the political debate when one of its villainous guns-for-hire brands a plucky medic a ‘nasty woman’. That this commentary features within such a cynical cash-cow of an enterprise tends to undermine the messages somewhat.
The need to keep within family friendly parameters, as ever, scuppers the scares, and the last entry was spot on when it implied that audiences may be suffering dinosaur fatigue. When Fallen Kingdom introduces a new character to the island the attempt to capture her wonder is set to the faint strains of the original theme, effectively illustrating how this is a mere ghostly glimmer of the excitement we used to feel.
As that suggests, the film is often self-aware – as mega-budget franchises go this is one of the better ones, and the casting certainly helps. Pleasures include Howard and Pratt’s chemistry, a comb-over that flaps fearfully, and a variety of scoundrels meeting deservedly sticky ends.
Unexpectedly, Bayona dips a toe into the territory of his 2007 horror masterpiece The Orphanage, and if the genetic experimentation theme nods to Frankenstein then he chucks in a bit of Dracula too, with a bizarre Nosferatu-evoking bedroom scene that’s captured with some style. In another welcome touch, Jeff Goldblum returns to warn what a folly this all is. He’s undoubtedly right. But it’s fun too.
General release from Wed 6 Jun.