As young, emerging voices all over the world struggle to have their independent films produced for the big screen, movie studios keep funneling their funds into regurgitated sequels of brand-name franchises in hopes of turning a large profit on the backbone of familiarity. But we understand the world we live in, money talks and image is everything as these studios continue growing to epic proportions. Yet regrettably, as J.A. Bayona has recently maneuvered into one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom serves as a devastating reminder of this sad overinvestment into beaten-to-death franchises with a lifeless translation of its brutally unoriginal story.
It’s been three years since the public tragedy at Jurassic World’s theme park has bankrupted the company and left dinosaurs to roam free on Isla Nublar. However, with a newly active volcano on the island expected to erupt at any moment and render these dinosaurs extinct once again, former theme park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is contacted by Benjamin Lockwood’s (James Cromwell) estate and asked to help preserve the creatures by retrieving the velociraptor Blue and relocating various species to a sanctuary island. With the aid of her former boyfriend and dinosaur trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), they travel back to Isla Nublar for a mission that is far from what it seems.
Fallen Kingdom’s thoughtless and derivative screenplay naturally evolves into an enduring theatrical experience that rarely delves beyond the franchise staples. The film provides absolutely majestic footage of these mythical creatures, as well as a trademark youthful lead character played by newcomer Isabella Sermon, all things we’ve grown to expect from any new installment to the series. But most importantly, Fallen Kingdom also includes some extraordinary dinosaur battles, which always succeed at getting the blood flowing. However, there’s very little substance coursing through the veins of this new entry from director J.A. Bayona. In fact, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character has become one of the most vapid leads to any major film franchise I can ever remember. Her performance is as paper-thin as her character has been constructed on the pages of this horrid screenplay. Chris Pratt tries mightily to be the film’s saving grave, but even his perfectly-suited role is mishandled to the point of no return. Fallen Kingdom reaches for the stars but fails to ever get off the ground with a story that’s devoid of creativity and desperately reliant on old, rehashed ideas.