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Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom movie cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Jeff Goldblum, James Cromwell
Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom movie director: J. A. Bayona
Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom movie rating: 3.5 stars
Starting 1993’s Jurassic Park — 1990, if you count the Michael Crichton novel — humans have been tinkering with dinosaurs and, when things go bad, eventually leaving them to their own devices. On an island, at a safe enough distance from mainland.
Bayona, a director who knows how to play with horror, mind and fears, in smaller spaces (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls), takes a giant, T-Rex, leap in Fallen Kingdom. He brings the dinosaurs home.
We watch the giant creatures, abandoned after yet another experiment gone wrong in the last Jurassic World (2015), about to be wiped off as a species, with a dormant volcano coming alive on their home Isla Nublar. In a poignant scene, obviously meant to signify how it may have happened in real life when a meteor struck and killed the dinosaurs (as per one theory), we watch one harmless herbivore let out a haunting moan as his world goes up in fire and smoke.
It’s when the action moves into a castle, as fairy tale-like as they come, and into its cellars, as dungeon-like as they come, that Fallen Kingdom really comes alive. The castle is owned by Benjamin Lockwood (Cromwell) who, along with John Hammond (played in a couple of Jurassic Park films by Richard Attenborough), was behind the original idea to create a theme park around dinosaurs engineered out of an egg.
The egg that started it all.
Like all fairy tales, good co-exists with evil quite happily and unseen here, and Bayona unpeels the layers quite slowly and assuredly. It’s an achievement to keep our eyes focused on this at a time when rapacious dinosaurs, many who have been genetically altered by humans (including Dr Wu) to turn them into killing machines, are rampaging through the castle.
But then the film is clear about who the real animals are here. More than any other Jurassic Park film, its fingers are pointed at humans. This particular species comes in all shades in the film, those with horns and those with halos, and writers Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly are unapologetic in outing both kinds. Mills (Spall) is the obvious bad guy, plotting to sell the dinosaurs for their abilities to be used as soldiers in a world populated — yes, again — by “Slovenians”, “Russians” and some assorted mad men toting Wild West hats. However, are the do-gooders Claire (Howard) and Owen (Pratt), who allowed the tinkering of dinosaurs to begin under their watch in the Jurassic World of 2015, as squeaky clean as they pretend to be?
Bayona does stretch the violence way too much towards the end, having done admirably well without resorting to it earlier. The film could do with some sharper editing, and smaller run time. But gratifyingly, even as we know that a sequel is on the way, it still packs in a surprise ending. Pratt continues to have a commanding screen presence but child actor Isabella Sermon almost steals the show.
Above all, it’s a film of our times. As scientists underline that we are now into the ‘Anthropocene epoch’ — or a human-influenced age, for the first time in Earth’s history — and as man plays God with nature, Fallen Kingdom does well to catch on.
To those who know their Bible, the title may be no coincidence.