[Herald Review] ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ takes a creepy turn

New film about doomed dinosaur park packs plenty of action and potentially interesting plot twist, but needs more development for it to work

This should have been expected when you hand over the helm to a guy whose most notable work includes a film about a haunted orphanage and a tree monster.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the second installment in the trilogy by J.A. Bayona, takes the blockbuster franchise down a creepy path that adds horror elements to the dino action.

The plot takes off three years on from where “Jurassic World” left off. Dinosaurs left on the now-discarded park are on the verge of re-extinction as a volcano on the island is about to erupt.

A small group of humans — including Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard — is trying to get the animals out of the doomed island for preservation. But they require help from Owen Grady — Chris Pratt — whose personal bond with Blue, the last-living Velociraptor, is critical to capturing her.

“Jurassic World: Fallen: Fallen Kingdom” (Universal Pictures International Korea)

The film starts off with what could be the best opening scene in the franchise since the “Jurassic Park” in 1993. A group of mercenaries look for a sample of a long-dead dinosaur with the Mosasaurus on their heels. Just as they look to be home free, the gigantic beast soars from the depths and gulps down a man.

Classic Jurassic Park.

The scene of the volcano finally taking down the island is a beauty; dinosaurs of all types running and jumping off a cliff, T-rex roaring in front of the fiery mountain, the heroes speeding and Owen sprinting for his life while engulfed by the black fumes.

But while the original 1993 classic and the film’s predecessor would start off slow and pick up the action, the film goes the opposite route.

The dinosaurs, including the main “villain” hybrid animal Indoraptor, emanate the vibe of creatures in a horror film as they stalk their prey silently. There is also a pretty impressive shot of the animal extending its claws toward a girl lying in bed, which has been used multiple times in the trailers.

“Jurassic World: Fallen: Fallen Kingdom” (Universal Pictures International Korea)

The problem is that the scene is not scary, suspenseful nor original. The super-smart Indoraptor opening doors to stalk children is too Velociraptor, a monster in the suburbs is too “Lost World,” and overall, the creature is just not that impressive or intimidating.

“Jurassic World” showed a T-rex-sized dinosaur that can camouflage in the trees, change her body temperature to fool thermal cameras and set up traps to trick humans. Are we supposed to be scared of her smaller cousin?

“They’re dinosaurs. Wow enough,” says Owen in “Jurassic World.” There is no need to turn the already-impressive creatures into rubber stamp movie villains.

One interesting plot point is the implications of the changes dinosaurs in the modern era can have presented by the self-proclaimed “chaotician” Dr. Ian Malcom, played by Jeff Goldblum.

“Change is like death. You don’t know what it looks like till you’re standing at the gates,” he says, a dire warning to the humans of the movie that tried to play God, altering the course of revolution through genetic mutation and cloning. It is emphasized throughout the film that they cannot possibly fathom the forces influencing these changes.

This can be a euphemism of the changes to the modern world brought about by the technological development and scientific advances, something that the original novel by Michael Crichton talked about, but was only briefly mentioned and soon forgotten in the original “Jurassic Park” trilogy.

So far, this issue is left undeveloped in the film, but maybe its implications — including the creepy, yet scarcely-developed plot twist about genetic research on a species other than dinosaurs — would be dealt with in the next film. If so, the story arc will be far more chilling than a scary hybrid dinosaur.

Overall, it is not groundbreaking, and does not live up to its hype, but is a fun, action-packed film that has a potential to be more depending on the sequel. Like “Jurassic World,” the film doesn’t forget to pay the tribute to the 1993 film.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” opened in local theaters on Wednesday.

By Yoon Min-sik