The year: 1993 and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park revolutionises special effects in cinema. Cinema-going audiences flock to see dinosaurs live and breathe again, right before their very eyes. The film remained the highest-grossing film of all time until 1997 when James Cameron’s Titanic stole its crown, but the influence felt by Jurassic Park has continued to be felt to this very day.
Four sequels followed, all of which failed to recapture the absolute magic of the original, but did have differing degrees of success, both critically and commercially. 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park was profitable but was seen as something of a disappointment by critics.
Spielberg himself thinks of it as one of his worst efforts behind the camera, feelings that would cause him to relinquish directorial control of the series for good. 2001’s Jurassic Park III started filming before a script had been completed and it showed. Despite the return of Sam Neill and Laura Dern to the series, critics and audiences lambasted the film for its short runtime and carbon-copy story.
Jurassic Park III caused the series to stay dormant until 2015 when little-known director, Colin Trevorrow, teamed up with Spielberg who remained on as producer to release the next entry in the series; Jurassic World. It was an instant hit, taking over $1.6billion at the box office and breaking numerous records the world over.
Three years later it was superseded by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, directed by visionary filmmaker J.A. Bayona. Despite grossing an impressive $1.3billion worldwide, critics called it the worst film of the series. In this article, I’m going to share with you why I feel Fallen Kingdom is actually the best sequel in entire franchise.
One of the main criticisms of Jurassic sequels is their reliance on the same plot devices in order to create their story. Man goes to dinosaur island, dinosaurs eat men, survivors are rescued.
In Fallen Kingdom the majority of the story takes place outside of Isla Nublar with only the first 40 minutes or so featuring the island at all. The second half of the film, set in a beautifully realised gothic mansion is tense, filled with incredible action sequences and filmed absolutely superbly by Bayona. While this change in direction was criticised by many, I feel it shows that Trevorrow and writing partner Derek Connelly really want to take the series in a new direction and that’s important for its viability.
Jurassic World received much praise but its dependence on CGI effects rather than the practical effects seen in its three predecessors was critcised widely. After hundreds of fan complaints about this topic, Trevorrow hired the team behind the practical effects in the Star Wars sequels to create new animatronic dinosaurs for Fallen Kingdom.
The result is some of the best special effects of 2018. The CGI and animatronics are seamlessly integrated into the film and this marks a welcome departure from its 2015 predecessor. The scene in which Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard try to get blood from a sleeping T-Rex is stunning to watch and eerily believable. Why? Because of the impressive practical dinosaurs used.
Emotion is not something you would expect to find in a film about rampaging dinosaurs but as Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connelly move towards a series that focuses on animal rights and our own ethics above all else, emotional attachment to both characters and the dinosaurs is starting to show. In Fallen Kingdom, this is pushed to the forefront as we see Isla Nublar destroyed and the dinosaurs who inhabit it die alongside the island.
It’s hard not to feel an emotional attachment to the island after it played such a large part in Jurassic World and of course 1993’s Jurassic Park. The lone brachiosaurus standing at the dock is etched into the minds of many fans of the series and the heart-breaking decisions undertaken by our lead characters towards the climax only add to this emotion. Sentiment is a big deal in Spielberg’s films and it’s nice to see it making a comeback.
Elsewhere, Fallen Kingdom is without a doubt the best-looking film of 2018 and by far the best-looking film in the Jurassic series. Having Bayona and his cinematographer Oscar Faura was an exceptional choice as they bring their earthy tones to the series. It fits perfectly too with horror-inspired scenes that drip with detail being scattered throughout. It’s a flawless film to look at.
It isn’t perfect, but none of the sequels have been. The Lost World’s ending was a disaster with plot holes galore. Jurassic Park III was a mess riddled with poor dialogue, at times awful CGI and cardboard cut-out characters. Jurassic World was a fun summer blockbuster but lacked any of the original’s soul.
Fallen Kingdom has an awkward script at times with clunky dialogue and despite Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s believable on-screen chemistry, their on-off relationship remains an irritating addition to the series, but there really are just so many things to like.
It’s exquisitely filmed, raises some intriguing moral questions and has an ending that is much, much stronger than its counterpart from 1997. There’s a lot of hatred towards Colin Trevorrow in the film industry, especially since his parting of ways with Disney for Star Wars: Episode IX, but these individuals forget one fundamental thing: he is a fan of Jurassic Park. And a fan directing, writing and producing a sequel is better than a corporate director making one just to reap the profits. Look at Solo for evidence of that.
Above and beyond everything else, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was a brave departure for the series that I admittedly wasn’t keen on when I first saw it. However, the subsequent re-watches I have given it have made me realise what a great film it actually is. If that first-watch feeling sounds familiar, then perhaps give it another go. What’s the worst that could happen?
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