J. A. Bayona directs Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt and Ted Levine in this fifth instalment of the cloned dinosaurs on the rampage in the modern age blockbuster franchise.
Well, well, well… this is a pleasant summer surprise. Bitty and daft, featuring millennial support characters as annoying as The Green Inferno’s lampooned protagonists (though these ones somehow don’t get eaten). It should be a disaster disaster movie, right? Well nope… as Bayona in the first half crafts a heartfelt love letter to Spielberg. The PG-13 peril is constantly gripping and escalating, the threat laid out expertly and unfussily, and there are pleasing visual steals from less obvious moments in Raiders of the Lost Ark, War of the Worlds and well… Jurassic Park. I was absolutely swept away. I chuckled at the ridiculous plot wobbles. I was in awe of the shot of the brachiosaurus as we left the island. I bet Steven the ageing wunderkind had tears caught in his beard when he saw that reverent, majestic image that out Spielberged even him. The second half sees Bayona retreat back into his own directorial interests… gothic castles, locked away secrets, princesses in turrets, patterned wallpaper. It is not quite as playful, and the action doesn’t flow fast enough for you not to have adequate time to outthink the ridiculous moments. It is not terrible… just not the breakneck rollercoaster that the island offered. It certainly isn’t an entertainment for humbuggy nitpickers. Howard and Pratt are given short shrift, only a couple of scenes exploit their neat screwball chemistry. And Blue, the trained velociraptor, probably gets a little too much screentime… she is a concept that just doesn’t work as a plot device and, worse yet, utterly dilutes her species “big bad” legacy within the series. I want my raptors to be claw tapping, relentless monsters of death… not reluctant, uncertain sidekicks. Still Ted Levine, Rafe Spall and Toby Jones all bring some cold blooded “boo-hiss”ery to their human villian roles to make up for this fudge. A tapestry of moments, one that possibly won’t hold up to repeated viewings though.