Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
DINOSAUR ORIGIN—Where did the dinosaurs come from? Answer
Are dinosaurs mentioned in the BIBLE? Answer
WHY did God create dinosaurs? Answer
LIVING WITH DINOSAURS—What would it have been like to live with dinosaurs? Answer
EXTINCTION—Why did dinosaurs become extinct? Answer
NOAH’S ARK—Did Noah take dinosaurs on the Ark? Answer
DINOSAURS AFTER THE FLOOD—Following the Flood, what happened to dinosaurs? Answer
Chris Pratt … Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard … Claire Dearing
Jeff Goldblum … Ian Malcolm
Ted Levine … Ken Wheatley
James Cromwell … Benjamin Lockwood
Toby Jones … Gunnar Eversol
BD Wong … Dr. Henry Wu
Rafe Spall … Eli Mills
Justice Smith … Franklin
Robert Emms … Jack
Daniella Pineda … Zia Rodriguez
Geraldine Chaplin … Iris
Peter Jason … Congressman Sherwood
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|Director||J.A. Bayona—“The Orphanage” (2007), “A Monster Calls” (2016), “The Impossible” (2012)|
Apaches Entertainment [Spain]
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It’s been three years since the catastrophic events of “Jurassic World”, and things haven’t gotten any easier since then. A volcano on Isla Nublar (the island home of the dinosaurs of both incarnations of “Jurassic Park”) is now classified as active and is set to erupt at any time. The question facing everyone now is, what will happen to the dinosaurs that are still on the island?
Former Jurassic World theme park executive Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) now works for an animal rights campaign, and is fighting for the rights of the dinosaurs. Following the U.S. Government’s ruling to not save the creatures, Claire is contacted by a representative of Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a former business partner of John Hammond (who created the original “Jurassic Park” 25 years ago).
Through Lockwood’s assistant, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), Claire is informed of an island discovered that the dinosaurs can be moved to. This would be a peaceful “Great Valley” where dinosaurs can roam free without danger and without tourists. With the help of two scientists and an old friend, Owen (Chris Pratt), the three set out to save the remaining dinosaurs before it becomes too late.
This fifth installment in the “Jurassic” film series has quite a bit going for it. Of course, the action sequences are exciting. There’s a strong combination of CGI and practical effects (particularly the moment where Claire climbs over a T-Rex), and the film reveals its scares in a way I haven’t seen in previous “Jurassic” movies before. The overall cinematography, lighting and editing are excellent. At the same time, however, some of the same tricks from previous “Jurassic” movies are reused a little too much.
There are elements that “Fallen Kingdom” does very well. For one, I think this installment is very emotionally-compelling, with a handful of scenes that range from sad to heartbreaking. Oe scene in particular made a few people in the theater tear up… I later realized this also serves as a well-executed callback to the original 1993 film.
That being said, in some areas, the film also takes a step or two back from its predecessor. Instead of Jurassic World’s much more cohesive story, “Fallen Kingdom” essentially is two stories meshed into one. The only real sense of connection involves a scene on the beach. It doesn’t help that the overall tone is darker and more cartoonish in the second half. One example worth noting is that the auction scenes feel very much like they were pulled from a cartoon.
Similar to last time, Pratt once again plays the somewhat corny and “Indiana Jones”-like action hero. Sometimes his jokes hit, other times they fall flat. His friendship with Blue the Raptor is given more attention than last time thanks to a couple of “flashback scenes.” Howard definitely seems more convincing than the last-go-round (for the record, she isn’t running in high heels this time). The new additions to the cast vary from great (Isabella Sermon is a good addition) to just a little over-the-top (Justice Smith’s character is funny, but he often overdoes it). Jeff Goldblum reappears as Dr. Ian Malcolm in a couple of key scenes.
Michael Giacchino creates another fantastic score with occasional nods to John Williams’ original themes.
Each of the “Jurassic” movies carries the same message. Man can’t take the place of God. Ever since the first movie, there have been cautions as to mankind trying to create forms of “artificial intelligence,” and these ideas later result in catastrophe. Dr. Malcolm describes this very ironically in the first “Jurassic Park” by saying, “God destroys dinosaurs. God creates Man. Man destroys God. Man creates Dinosaurs.” It perhaps serves the idea that without God, this whole world is a chaotic mess.
There is a positive message on the strong influence that difficult choices have on our own lives and others. When faced with a very difficult decision, Owen tells Claire, “If you do this, there’s no going back.” In many cases during the movie, we are reminded also that any choice we make can have serious consequences. Paul’s letter to the Galatians offers a very interesting description of this message:
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” —Galatians 6:7-8
Meanwhile, characters sacrifice their lives for each other and for prehistoric creatures of any size and shape.
Language: The overall profanity is toned down slightly from the last film, but there are still over a dozen uses of foul language. The s-word is blurted out once and there’s also an unfinished use of “Holy sh**.” We also hear four uses of variations of “d***” and “a**” (including a**hole). We also hear three uses of “h***,” and one each of “son of a b**ch,” “b***rd” and “bloody.” Jesus’ name is misused twice, and God’s name is misused five times.
Adult Content: One kiss between Owen and Claire. They flirt a few times. Claire wears one low-cut/form-fitting outfit.
Alcohol/Drugs: One bar scene includes Claire and Owen drinking beer, and Claire seems like she’s a little inebriated. Tranquilizing darts are used once or twice.
Violence: This is the part that is definitely the most problematic. The first half of the movie basically acts like an adventure movie with close-cut escapes. An island is basically decimated by lava and fireballs (with some striking dinosaurs). Some dinosaurs nearly stampede on our heroes. One nearly attacks them before being put down by a T-Rex. A carnivore nearly does away with Claire and an assistant in a cave, before narrowly escaping their doom through a ladder with the dinosaur continuously snapping at them. Owen is hit with a tranquilizer, and becomes paralyzed for a while. He is nearly finished off by rushing lava. A raptor attacks someone and is then shot in the chest out of defense.
The second half of the movie turns into a bit of a gothic horror flick. This is especially prevalent in a scene where the created “Indoraptor” tries to attack a little girl sleeping in her bed (the slow-motion movements and the thunderstorm in the background heighten the overall scare factor). But the Indoraptor is given one or two gross kills that rival the “Indominus Rex.” One time, he bites off the arm of a man before eating him; there’s a quick distance shot of the severed limb, before the camera revisits a distance shot where his body is ransacked around apparently without limbs. A goat is eaten by a T-rex. A T-rex chomps another guy up before throwing one or two limbs into another dinosaur’s mouth. This is all done with little blood shown (red stains are shown on the raptor’s teeth and lips), but it’s very intense and likely to frighten sensitive moviegoers and young children.
Another dinosaur is essentially impaled by a museum exhibit. A dinosaur sinks one of his talons into a woman’s leg (we see the resulting injury briefly). More dinosaurs are shot by a tranquilizer gun and a real gun. One character is murdered by a pillow being shoved in his face (off-screen). Dinosaurs are shown savaging people from time to time, often out of the camera’s view. A surgery is done on a raptor, with a little bit of dinosaur blood shown and someone is splashed in the face with a little blood. A blood transfusion is done on a large dinosaur, with little detail, just a big bag of dinosaur blood shown at the end.
A T-Rex nearly kills another human before being chomped by a killer whale-like dinosaur (the Mosasaur, who also is shown about to eat a group of surfers in a wave). Hydrogen cyanide gas begins to fill a containment area, threatening to kill anyone and any creature down there. A wall is broken by a dinosaur with a hard head (he also bumps into a few items for laughs). Characters fall off a cliff in a “gyrosphere” and nearly drown from water leaking in. The movie includes lots of loud screaming and roaring, etc.
Other: There are several greedy bad guys here that have no concern or compassion for others. They also lie and double-cross. When people in a court discuss how the dinosaurs being destroyed by the volcano is an act of “the Almighty,” Dr. Malcolm dismisses it and states, “God doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
The “Jurassic Park” movies have never been morality tales or character studies, by any means. They’ve basically been big-scale popcorn flicks meant to entertain and excite. This latest installment manages to do just the same. It sticks to what makes the franchise work. Cool dinosaurs, exciting action, hints of horror, some corny side characters, etc. For me, I just view them as extended “amusement park rides”—fun and exciting, but lacking any real sense of depth.
At the same time, I will say this is also an ambitious episode that succeeds more than it falters. For once, the prehistoric dangers aren’t restricted to Isla Nublar. The ending suggests that the setting will indeed be much different from here on out. In that case, “Fallen Kingdom” tries to get rid of key elements and plot points from past films, a strategy that franchises seem to be employing nowadays (“Star Wars” and the Marvel Universe both have utilized this approach).
In terms of content, this film isn’t much different from the remainder of the “Jurassic” franchise. The main concern, of course, is the violence, which (especially in the second half) does turn toward horror. There’s the usual handful of gross moments regarding humans meeting a gruesome end, some “jump” scenes and relentless roaring beasts. Besides that, there’s some moderate language and a handful of other negative moral choices.
In the end, if you’re a fan of this franchise, you’ll probably enjoy “Fallen Kingdom.” It delivers what you would expect in a disjointed and occasionally messy way. On the other hand, families with young children searching for a movie night should look elsewhere. There’s a handful of moments here that may very well cause nightmares for some kids; all I’ll say at this point is please take the PG-13 rating seriously.
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My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4