Incredibly, it’s twenty-five years since Steven Spielberg’s ground-breaking original Jurassic Park, not only proved that dinosaurs ruled multiplexes, but quite literally revolutionised the cinematic medium technologically.
Now, this nostalgic, diluted fifth instalment in the franchise, is the sequel to the rather mixed, entertainingly lightweight 2015 reboot: Jurassic World. Directed by J.A. Bayona, it’s very much a film of two halves. The first, sees the titular park closed. With the tourists gone, the all-important creatures remain, with the island’s latest enemy bubbling up: a volcano attempting to erupt at any moment…
There’s a plethora of bravura action-set pieces. Boiling lava making its insidious approach, a relentless stampede, deep-sea disaster as a gyrosphere tumbles into the ocean – all particular highlights. I’m the first person to love CGI spectacle, but here, the more this cataclysmic panoply is foregrounded, almost the less interesting it becomes. Plus, the CGI doesn’t quite have the same impact as the animatronics did in Spielberg’s original two. Those films encapsulated a streamlined simplicity of structure, and palpable sense of tense, threatening menace – which just can’t be replicated.
Thank goodness then, for Chris Pratt as Owen Grady. He’s an actor of such immense charm, charisma, a fantastically reliable action protagonist and of course has very funny comic timing. His vital moments of humour add some much-needed levity. He remains my favourite element of the film – as he was in Infinity War. There’s still a sparky connection between him and Bryce Dallas-Howard’s Claire, even if her expressions appear disinterestedly jaded – and once again she’s given so little to do when compared with pro-active Laura Dern or Julianne Moore.
I really liked the myriad of subtle references to Jurassic Park’s original milieu – toe-tapping claws, upturned cars, a portrait of Lord Attenborough’s John Hammond, a cane with the amber solidified inside. Prolific composer Michael Giacchino, cleverly uses cues from John Williams’s wonderful themes – although these could’ve been pushed further. As could Jeff Goldblum’s much-publicised return – he’s only in it for two minutes.
The second half, functions more successfully as a haunted-house thriller. I enjoyed the schlockier ‘It’s behind you!’ moments, but the plotting is often convenient – (where did that dinosaur come from?)
Hopefully, this more contained approach continues with the inevitable sixth chapter.
Rating: * * *