Wednesday, October 3, 2018


‘Blu-ray or Bust’

The JURASSIC PARK franchise has seen some interesting entries over the years, but has also suffered from some repetitive plot elements that just won’t go away.

Case in point: FALLEN KINGDOM has something that nearly all of the other films does, something which was awesome the first time around, yet now, with the fifth entry, is just plain redundant.  I’m referring to the entire “dinosaur saving humans” bit.  It happens a few times in this film, and while it is an understandable plot point in one part, it feels overused in another.

So, that’s me pointing out everything that is wrong in this film.  Seriously.  The rest of the story is straight up action thriller, action comedy, and a nifty little haunted house/jail break movie.  If THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK taught us anything, it is that, for a sequel to be wholly original, you have got to flip the script a bit.  This one does on many levels, and works even better than its predecessor does.

KINGDOM reunites Claire and Owen (Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt), who are hired to rescue some of the dinosaurs from Isla Nubar.  It seems there is an active volcano there which threatens to wipe them all out, so they attempt to help relocate the animals.  After that fifteen-minute set up, the rest of the film offers you little time to catch your breath.  There are new characters along for the ride, characters which will likely show up in the next (and possibly final) installment.  Daniella Pineda plays the acidic Dr. Zia Rodriguez, and Justice Smith is computer nerd Franklin Webb, who screams like a girl better than most girls do.  Most impressive is newcomer Isabella Sermon as Maisie; while every other JURASSIC film has also shared the core element of kids in danger, she is a confident addition to the franchise that makes her less a superfluous character and more of a core element.

Another factor to the films which should not be overlooked are the effects: they get better with each entry.  This time around, the story includes one of the best action sequences out of them all: the destruction of the island.  It isn’t just the stampeding dinosaurs, it isn’t just the lava bombs and the onrushing ash cloud; it is a combination of cinematographer Oscar Faura’s (A MONSTER CALLS) incredible eye for beauty being consumed, for the wide sweeping destruction amidst the fight or flight perspective.  That, and Neal Scanlon and the effects gurus at Industrial Light and Magic.  Not to mention the directing by J.A. Bayona (THE IMPOSSIBLE), who entrusts his actors with making all of the mayhem seem life threatening instead of surreal.

Of course, this is entirely necessary on Blu-ray; from the effects to the score by Michael Giacchino (STAR TREK, UP—which he won an Academy Award for), you don’t want to miss any of the richness to the weaker format.  There are several behind-the-scenes docs, many of which offer unique insight from actors that occasionally felt more like witnesses.

The next film has a 2021 release date, and rumors have it that some of the actors from the first trilogy are set to return, thus giving the saga a definitive end.  And if that final installment is as good as this one, we should all be so lucky.  As long as they leave behind that whole “dinosaurs saving humans” bit.  Honestly, after the T-rex saved them all in the last one, how come he didn’t immediately start chowing down on people nuggets?  Like the accountant in the first film—that guy was a freaking Happy Meal, served in a box with soggy fries, no less.  At any rate, we’ve got three years to mull on the mysteries; here’s hoping the writers can work out a solid script without too much repetition.
Grade: A-
Special Features: A
Blu-ray Necessary: Uh, let’s think about this for a minute…IT’S FRICKING DINOSAURS, OF COURSE IT’S NECESSARY.

-- T.S. Kummelman

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