Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Does it bite off more than it can chew?

The latest in the Jurassic Park series is an action thriller packed so full of continuously-rising stakes, layer upon layer of finger-biting tension and overwhelming suspense that you’ll feel exhausted by the time the credits roll. Now this might be exactly what you’re after in summer blockbuster season, but with increasingly well written and plotted competitors jostling for your ticket money, it does feel lacking in emotion, depth and meaningful character development.

That being said, the film isn’t completely tone deaf, and there’s one beautifully powerful emotional scene on a dock that will likely stir a reaction in the even most hardened cynic. But as much as this particular moment works, it highlights the overall deficit in the characters who you’re not given too much reason to care for. Pratt and Dallas Howard’s characters are essentially rebooted by having them split up between the Jurassic World films, so they’re ready to start romance afresh, but this is glossed over quickly. The two main newcomers are likeable sidekicks, but don’t get enough screen time to develop beyond losing their glasses towards the end.

There are so many big action scenes in the film you barely get time to breathe, with tension growing and growing – there’s a definite channelling of Indiana Jones at its finest with “Phew! We’re safe…Oh no! What now?!!”. This is echoed in Pratt’s continued sterling impression of Dr Jones, so much so it seems like a bit of an audition for a future role as the famed archaeologist when Ford bows out.

Director JA Bayona of The Orphanage and The Impossible fame gets in several admirable jump scares and the film edges towards full-on horror in interesting ways, particularly in the last act, with a gothic mansion setting looming large. But not content with ramping up your pulse at every available minute, the film dives headfirst towards the end with a rapid-fire checklist of homages to the first Jurassic Park – dumbbell waiters, tapping raptor toes, glass breaking scenes, big dino eyes opening, and dinos learning to use door handles all get their shout out, but with so many nods, it falters towards feeling tiring and unspired. As the climax keeps going thrill-a-minute, it adds too many additional bad guys in the final stretch with little payoff when they get their inevitable reptilian comeuppance. Plus there’s a bizarre late character revelation that doesn’t make much sense and feels really out of place.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a fun-filled set of escapades with excellent camerawork, set design and special effects, but these plus points can’t save a severe lack of depth, character progression and story. That said, the film feels like it succeeds at what is its main goal – incubating the dinosaur series so it’s fresh to hatch future franchises.

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