The Dinosaurs Have Left the Island…They Could Now Be in Your Homes
If you’re expecting to hear the word “run” and view people with horrified (panic-stricken) expressions on their faces while desperately fleeing hungry meat-eating dinosaurs, then Fallen Kingdom won’t disappoint. If you’re also hoping for some nostalgic nods to the past films, you’ll be pleased. And—if you’re looking for a playful romance between Owen (Chris Pratt), the raptor wrangler and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the protector of dinosaurs, then—you got it. Fallen Kingdom offers all of this with the addition of a new ten-foot tall, twenty-three-foot long hybrid predator dinosaur named Indoraptor.
It’s the fifth installment of the Jurassic film series, beginning in 1993 with Jurassic Park, the sci-fi tale of attempts to create a theme park based on cloned dinosaurs. It all started in 1990 when Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment bought the rights of the book Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton before it was even published. I actually remember one of my former fifth-grade gifted students reading the adult book in a few days, as I did—and plenty more of Crichton’s sci-fi novels. The original film was groundbreaking in that it was the first time that dinosaurs were technically created to appear real on screen. A thrilling moment for movie-making and cinema fans as well. I’ll never forget that moment. So how does a franchise continue the “awe and wonder” of that lovely Brachiosaurus chewing tree-top leaves and the dread of being chased by a T-Rex while driving a cool Jeep?
One strategy in continuing the franchise is to jog memories of the first film, when Claire says to Owen, “Do you remember the first time you saw a dinosaur? First time you see them, it’s like… a miracle. You read about them in books, you see the bones in museums, but you don’t really… believe it. They’re like myths. And then you see… the first one alive.” Yup, that scene places memories of the first film in your head—it’s a brilliant tactic to relive that exact personal memory as fans melt in nostalgia.
In Fallen Kingdom, a fire-spewing volcano is erupting on Isla Nublar, the former Jurassic Park, and is creating an extinction possibility for the dinosaurs. In a fleeting cameo, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is speaking to the US Congress, advising “that nature run its course.” An ailing Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the business partner of the deceased John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the creator of Jurassic Park, decides to rescue the dinosaurs. Although Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), Lockwood’s top associate, has a secret alternative motive, he enlists the help of Claire and Owen but lies to them about his plan. And what exactly is his plan? To sell eleven different dinosaur species to the highest bidder—his main prize is the humongous genetically produced dinosaur named Indoraptor, which hunts prey by simply pointing a red laser beam at the target.
Director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls) reveals a somewhat gothic style in the second half of the film as the massive Lockwood Estate, where the great hall looks like a Natural History Museum, complete with glass enclosures of dinosaurs in their environments is of that period. He uses dark rainy nights, peaked rooftops, and a larger-than-life child’s bedroom to set the most terrifying scene in the film.
The Indoraptor is in the basement lab of the manor and escapes to hunt the ten-year-old cloned granddaughter of Lockwood: Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Adding to the suspense is how the scene plays out through the house, recalling the first Jurassic Park film of the kids being chased into the kitchen. Here, Maisie ends up in her own bedroom—in a lengthy scene, with a the ten-foot tall, twenty-three-foot long dinosaur. Production designer Andy Nichols reveals that Maisie’s oversized bedroom was almost forty feet by fifty feet to accommodate the scale and the addition of Blue (Owen’s raptor) when she enters the room. Parents, I do highly advise that you not bring children under ten years of age. The movie is rated PG-13 and may even be too frightening for twelve-year-olds.
In the interest of protecting spoilers here, I’ll be vague, yet voice what I did appreciate: mainly the chemistry between Pratt and Howard, the sweet nature of Sermon as the granddaughter, the new prospect of the dinosaurs living side by side humans, the musical score by Academy Award winner Michael Giacchino, and as always, my favorite; seeing the dinosaurs in all of their special effects glory. Are there flaws? Yes, the first half of the film is mainly hot lava, explosions, dark in tone, and unnerving as the dinosaurs are being taken away from the island, or in some cases, engulfed in flames.
The Bottom Line: I totally believe that Michael Crichton would have been on board with the fresh ideas—and especially, the terrifying child and ginormous-sized new hybrid “Indoraptor” dinosaur bedroom scene.
Cast: Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing, Rafe Spall as Eli Mills,Isabella Sermon as Maisie, Justice Smith as Franklin Webb, Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez, James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood, Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol, B. D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu, Ted Levine as Ken Wheatle
Director: J.A. Bayona
Writer: Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly
Run Time: 2 Hours 6 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures
Sarah Knight Adamson© June 26, 2018