Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review

For inSing


Director : J.A. Bayona
Cast : Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Isabella Sermon, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum
Genre : Action / Adventure / Sci-fi
Run Time : 128 mins
Opens : 7 June 2018
Rating : PG-13

Just as life finds a way, so has the Jurassic Park franchise. There was a 14-year break between Jurassic Park 3 and Jurassic World, but the response to the latter showed audiences were hungry for more dinosaur mayhem. Jurassic World grossed $1.6 billion worldwide and became the second-highest-grossing film of 2015, making a follow-up inevitable.

Three years have elapsed since the events of the last film. The Jurassic World theme park lies in ruins on Isla Nublar, off the coast of Costa Rica. An impending volcanic eruption threatens the remaining dinosaurs who roam free on the island. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), former Jurassic World operations manager-turned dinosaur activist, has founded the Dinosaur Protection Group to save Isla Nublar’s Saurian inhabitants.

Claire is contacted by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), the executor of Sir Benjamin Lockwood’s (James Cromwell) estate. Lockwood was the partner of the late John Hammond, creator of the original Jurassic Park. Mills needs Claire’s help to facilitate the evacuation of the island. Blue, the last Velociraptor, is still alive. Claire ropes in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), the dinosaur handler who raised Blue, to help locate her. Claire’s employees at the Dinosaur Protection Group, paleo-veterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and systems analyst Franklin Webb (Justice Smith), join the mission too. Owen and Claire soon find themselves entangled in a nefarious conspiracy that could throw the world as we know it into irreversible chaos.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom comes extremely close to blockbuster perfection. Hiring J.A. Bayona proves to be a canny move on the producers’ part. The filmmaker kickstarted his career with the Spanish horror movie The Orphanage and made the disaster drama The Impossible and the dark fantasy fable When a Monster Calls. This is by far the largest project he’s presided over, and he worked closely with the previous film’s director Colin Trevorrow and producer Steven Spielberg, who directed the first two Jurassic films. The result is distinctly atmospheric, with an emphasis placed on scenes of sustained tension, without sacrificing the grand spectacle audiences come to these movies for.

Trevorrow co-wrote the screenplay with Derek Connolly, and they’ve devised a great reason to return to Isla Nublar. At first, the story seems like a re-tread of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, complete with paramilitary personnel rounding up the surviving animals and Ted Levine as a grizzled big-game hunter. Then, the movie swerves in an interesting direction, one which the trailers have misdirected us away from.

The film is paced marvellously, packing in action – and more importantly, action with some variety to it. It’s a given that most of the characters will spend a lot of time running away from dinosaurs. There’s that, to be sure, but there are also creepy, well-staged moments steeped in shadows and incorporating a sense of claustrophobia that are exceedingly effective.

Several of the dinosaurs possess enough personality to be accepted as characters. Blue’s bond with Owen is further developed, and both she and the T. rex get their share of ‘hero’ moments. Animatronic effects are used more than they were in the preceding film. Neal Scanlan, the creature effects supervisor for the recent Star Wars films from The Force Awakens onwards, oversees the practical dinosaur effects. He and his team have done excellent work, and the computer-generated visual effects are a notch above those seen in the previous film too. There’s even physical comedy courtesy of a rambunctious Stygimoloch.

The film is at its best when it echoes and builds upon the themes inherent in the first film and the source novel by Michael Crichton. The manmade dinosaurs could be viewed as an affront towards nature, with nature now reclaiming itself by way of the volcanic eruption. Hammond and Lockwood opened Pandora’s Box, and there’s no coming back from that. Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm pops up in a cameo reiterating his initial fears of the implications resurrecting dinosaurs would have. These creatures were intended as theme park attractions, which seems innocent enough, but the applications for this technology were never going to stop there. The film tackles this in a slightly deeper, headier way than one might expect from summer popcorn entertainment.

Owen and Claire are good people who have unwittingly been used by bad people for their own ends. Both characters seem less like the broad caricatures they were presented as in the previous film, giving Pratt and Howard more to work with. Owen and Claire grapple with their involvement in Jurassic World, and how much of the chaos that unspools in this film is their fault. They also find themselves in the thick of the action and have so many near-misses that they come across as at least a little superhuman.

Some of the new characters are played a little too broadly, especially Justice Smith’s anxious tech expert. The human villains aren’t dimensional enough and have straightforward, avaricious motivations.

The new addition to the cast that stands out is Isabella Sermon, who plays Lockwood’s precocious granddaughter Maisie. Beyond being the requisite imperilled child each of these movies must have at least one of, she becomes integral to the plot and protecting her gives Owen and Claire a secondary objective.

The new dinosaur being highlighted is the Indoraptor, following in the clawed footsteps of the previous film’s Indominus rex. Just as the Velociraptors have generally been scarier than the T. rex in previous Jurassic films, the vicious Indoraptor is considerably more menacing than the Indominus rex, proving a formidable foe for our heroes, human and dinosaur alike.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the best film in the series since the first. It packs in all the exhilarating theme park ride-thrills we expect from the series, while attempting to bring the moral and ethical quandaries at the heart of the premise back to the surface. The film is a satisfying experience, while naturally leaving the door open for a sequel. Stick around past the credits for a fun little stinger scene.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Big Game

For F*** Magazine


Director : Jalmari Helander
Cast : Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Felicity Huffman, Victor Garber, Jim Broadbent, Ted Levine, Ray Stevenson, Mehmet Kurtulus
Genre : Action/Thriller
Run Time : 91 mins
Opens : 7 May 2015
Rating : PG13 – Some Violence & Brief Coarse Language

You know what they say: “go big or go home”. In this Finnish action adventure film, 13-year-old Oskari (Tommila) feels the pressure of having to “go big”, seeing as his father Tapio (Jorma Tommila) is the best hunter in the village. While on a coming-of-age hunting mission, Oskari comes across an unexpected quarry: President of the United States William Moore (Jackson). It turns out that Air Force One has been shot down over the Finnish forest and the President’s escape pod has landed in Oskari’s neck of the woods. The President is being pursued by traitorous Secret Service agent Morris (Stevenson), who has partnered up with wealthy psychopath Hazar (Kurtulus) to hunt him down. President Moore must rely on Oskari for guidance and protection in the wilderness, while the Vice President (Garber), CIA Director (Huffman) and counter-terror consultant Herbert (Broadbent) figure out how to deal with the situation back at the Pentagon.

            Big Game is written and directed by Finnish filmmaker Jalmari Helander, famous for his Christmas horror-comedy flick Rare Exports. This feels every bit like it was made by a foreigner who grew up loving Hollywood action flicks and this element infuses Big Game with an irresistible charm. It homages 80s action movies and has an authentic “boy’s own adventure” vibe to it. This reviewer has a soft spot for adventure flicks in which kids are the heroes, films like E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial, The Goonies, Monster Squad and more recently Super 8. Big Game takes that and mashes it up with Die Hard or Air Force One and the end result is thoroughly grin-inducing.

            With its €8.5 million budget, Big Game is the most expensive Finnish film ever made and it certainly looks it. There is an overabundance of sweeping establishing shots of the Alps, standing in for the Finnish Lapland, and the big visual effects sequences, mostly furnished by Scanline VFX, are very well done. The CGI exterior shots of Air Force One look as good as in any major blockbuster and it’s clear that Helander intends for this movie to be his calling card when he inevitably breaks into Hollywood. While the film has its tongue very firmly planted in its cheek and is peppered with really funny moments, it doesn’t feel like obnoxious self-parody and its acknowledgement of action movie tropes is earnest and affectionate.

            Samuel L. Jackson may have top billing, but it’s Onni Tommila who is the true star of the show. He makes full use of the incredible opportunity to play opposite a prolific Hollywood actor and is excellent as the underdog hunter kid Oskari. Tommila’s real-life father Jorma plays his dad here; Helander previously directed the father-son pair in Rare Exports. There is a great little scene in which Oskari imagines killing and cutting the heart out of a bear. It’s a goofy moment that’s played so wonderfully by Tommila and that very effectively conveys to the audience what this character’s hopes and dreams are. It’s also telling that instead of leaping into an opening action scene, Helander spends a fair bit of time setting up the coming-of-age hunting mission and the relationship between Oskari, his father and the other villagers, as well as the significance of this hunt and what it would mean for the boy if he were to fail.

            Samuel L. Jackson seems to be in pretty much everything and it is a bit of a wonder that he hasn’t played the President of the United States until now. He does have fun with the role and doesn’t phone it in, and it is really amusing to see the guy famous for his portrayal of assorted badasses play a rather wimpy character who has to depend on a kid to get him through a survival situation. He shares good chemistry with Tommila and the scenes in which this odd couple gets to bond are genuinely sweet.

The scenes set in the Pentagon with Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman and Jim Broadbent huddled in the world’s tiniest situation room do have a slight silliness to them but that actors of this calibre are playing supporting roles in a silly action movie is something of a casting coup. There’s the added bonus of them not having to embarrass themselves as “serious actors” have in movies like the Transformers series. As the villains of the piece, Ray Stevenson and Mehmet Kurtulus chomp away at the scenery and bring enough of that crucial “love to hate factor” that the most memorable genre villains have. There’s also the added novelty of seeing Volstagg/The Punisher go after Nick Fury.

             Big Game has its plot holes and contrivances, but the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously while brimming with heart and delivering the goods in the action and comedy departments does make us more than willing to cut it some slack. There is a major plot twist late in the movie that rather frustratingly does not get followed up on, but the rest of the film is satisfying enough to make up for it and we would be all for a sequel.

Summary: With its entertaining homages to old-school action flicks, a terrific lead performance by child actor Onni Tommila and an earnestness evident throughout, Big Game is big on action, big on adventure and big on humour.
RATING: 4out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong