Sunday, June 17, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

In the aftermath of 2015’s Jurasssic World incident, the dinosaurs off the coast of Costa Rica are now facing extinction yet again as the volcanic island they are now inhabiting braces for a massive eruption. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is spearheading a campaign to lobby for the rescue of the dinosaurs, but politicians are not really that open to the idea of sharing the planet with a species that should have stayed extinct. As all hopes seem lost, filthy rich philanthropist Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) proposes a private mission to rescue the dinosaurs and usher them to a new island haven nearby. Claire immediately agrees and enlists the help of her now ex-boyfriend and Blue’s trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) to go back to Jurassic World. Unbeknownst to them, Lockwood’s assistant Eli (Rafe Spall) has a completely different plan in mind, using all of them as pawns in his game of corporate chess.

There is one haunting scene that will perhaps be the definitive image to remember this film by, that of a lone Brontosaurus gazing on the dock as the island behind it is engulfed in smoke and molten lava. It’s such a tragically poetic use of imagery to effectively summarize the entire storyline and evoke a strong emotional response from the audience at the same time. When it’s our turn to be extinct as a species, perhaps that dinosaur will be replaced by a child staring hopelessly at a vessel of survivors en route to a new habitat.

Fallen Kingdom does not have the luxury of nostalgia as its predecessor did. Jurassic World served as a sequel and, in a way, a soft reboot for a franchise that defined the movie viewing experience of a whole generation back in the 90’s. Those children are adults by now and probably have kids of their own. This sequel does not necessarily suffer from the dreaded sophomore slump, but will understandably never generate the same kind of buzz its predecessor did.

Even then, we still have a legit blockbuster here. All the elements of a big summer popcorn flick are present and well-executed to give you an exciting plot. I mean, come on. Three human beings trying to outrun a stampede of dinosaurs escaping from a volcanic eruption that is so like déjà vu for their kind? Most of the plot elements are super contrived to come up with an enthralling audiovisual experience, but understandably so. Over all, it is one hell of an enjoyable ride meant for the whole family to enjoy.

As for the story and plot, of course there’s a lot of recycling going on. You can only go so far with this kind of storyline, but the writers have presented a pretty good argument, highlighting the interplay between corporate interest and natural preservation. Perhaps the biggest game changer, though, is that one big twist at the end involving Maisie (Isabella Sermon). The subplot is not that original but serves its purpose well in the context of the imagined universe where this story is set.

The film’s conclusion obviously has a sequel in mind and blatantly paves the way for a trilogy. With a bunch of dinosaurs now living among us, how will mankind react? Most of the Jurassic Park films have been set in isolated locales far from the reaches of daily life. Whatever the producers are coming up with next, expect a storyline that will eventually highlight the theme of Survival of the Fittest even more. Hopefully, they do not fall on the last hurdle so they can deliver something worthy which this generation can proudly consider as a Jurassic Park trilogy that is their own.

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