Friday, July 20, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, J.A. Bayona, 2018

I enjoyed Fallen Kingdom more than I thought I would, but its pleasures are completely detached from the core of the film series. I was completely on board with all scenes involving Maisie. A girl of unnatural ancestry, unloved by humans and surrounded by strange beasts, exploring (and conquering) her hostile and baroque surroundings by means of the service elevator - I can't think of many characters in big budget films over the last ten years who are even remotely as interesting as Maisie. In a few scenes, Bayona manages to create a style of heighened artificiality (I especially liked the strange color burst in the museum scene) which fits her storyline perfectly.

In theory, it might be possible to combine Maisie's adventures with big budget dinosaur mayhem in a meaningful way. However, in this regard the film just feels tired. First and foremost, Fallen Kingdom desperately needed at least one or two stand-out open-air set pieces. Instead, the film spends way too much time in a generic underground facility (and doesn't even manage to evoke a sense of claustrophobia; the action really is a letdown, even compared with Trevorrow's film).

One scene encapsulating my frustration: After some inventive shadowplay in Maisies bedroom, threatening, ancient Jaws crawl near the frightened girl - and then Chris Pratt busts through the door and starts blasting away in the most prosaic manner. Pratt himself isn't as annoying as in Jurassic World, but just as boring. While Bryce Dallas Howard, clearly, whether you like her role or not, the most interesting part of the first film, has almost nothing to do. Same goes for most of the new cast members. It's really all about Maisie, this time.

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