Movie review: Fallen Kingdom – tropes as dated as the dinos
The latest instalment in the genetically modified franchise could use some new ideas.
With Spanish horror director JA Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls) at the helm, I’d hoped for more creative intervention in this chapter of the Jurassic Park – sorry, World – franchise. Yet though there are some interesting genre flourishes, and a set piece involving a gorgeous, shadowy gothic mansion, this overlong instalment is merely serviceable.
The volcanic, dinosaur-inhabited island of Isla Nublar is about to erupt, and so Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing (in combat boots rather than heels this time) and animal behavioural expert Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) have been flown in by Benjamin Lockwood’s estate to help transport the dinosaurs to safety, helped along by a sweaty, jittering coder named Franklin (The Get Down’s Justice Smith, playing the underdog with tongue-in-cheek relish) and a tough-talking palaeoveterinarian named Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda). Predictably, some people in on the plan have other designs for the dinos and so the rescue mission becomes a collection of increasingly tense, video game-like scenarios.
The film ends up being a bludgeoning political satire that queries the ethical implications and economic advantages of poaching genetically engineered animals, be it for biopharmaceutical weaponry, corporate seed money or to keep as collector’s items. There’s also an embarrassing coda about how we’re “causing our own extinction by way of avarice and political megalomania”. It shouldn’t be a bad thing that Claire, Zia and Maisie, Lockwood’s spunky granddaughter (Isabella Sermon), are signposted as the bravest characters with the most agency, yet the film’s overt girl-power politics date it. A close-up of Claire’s high heels, followed by one of her combat boots and a scene that sees Zia called a “nasty woman”, grasp at cultural relevance but end up too on the nose. The foreign villains – a Chinese geneticist and a Russian oligarch – are further causes for eye-rolling.