By Nick Romano
June 05, 2018 at 04:38 PM EDT

Whether or not you shut off your brain during Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom may determine whether or not you enjoy it.

The first reviews are in for the latest installment of the Jurassic franchise, and they’re somewhat mixed. Some critics, like EW’s Chris Nashawaty, found the movie “absurdly entertaining.” He added, “The less you try to dissect it, the more you’ll enjoy it.” Others reviewers, like The Wrap’s Dan Callahan, described the Jurassic World sequel as “expected” and “very hackneyed.”

Matt Singer of ScreenCrush wrote, “This isn’t just a film you need to ‘turn off your brain’ to enjoy; nothing less than surgically removing your brain from your body would do the trick.” Most critics, however, seem to agree that director J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) elevates the material.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their Jurassic World roles of Owen and Claire for Fallen Kingdom. With the park officially dead, they head back to Isla Nublar to rescue as many dinosaurs as possible when an erupting volcano threatens to wipe them out. But, as teased in the film’s trailers, there’s another nefarious plot involving a black market that seeks to weaponize the dinos.

With Bayona at the helm, critics have praised Fallen Kingdom’s transformation into a “spooky mansion movie” with “Alfred Hitchcock and Hammer horror style suspense.” Colin Trevorrow, who directed the first Jurassic World and will return to helm the third installment, co-wrote the screenplay for Fallen Kingdom with Derek Connolly.

Read more of the first wave of reviews below.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)
“Howard, thankfully, gets more to do than the last go round (and in combat boots, no less!), Pratt busts out his Indiana Jones cocktail of can-do heroism and deadpan jokiness, and Bayona and his screenwriters (Trevorrow and Derek Connolly) test the laws of incredulity with varying degrees of success. At least, until the final half hour when forehead-slapping hooey finally win out. Up until then, Fallen Kingdom is exactly the kind of escapist summer behemoth you want it to be.”

John DeFore (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Here, working from a script by the last pic’s Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, Bayona not only nods to the histories of classic monster movies and the legacy of original Jurassic helmer Steven Spielberg; he brings his own experience to bear, treating monsters like actual characters and trapping us in a vast mansion that’s as full of secrets as the site of his breakthrough 2007 film The Orphanage. Audiences put off by some dumb characterizations in the last film have much less to complain about here, while those requiring only some spectacular predators and exciting chase scenes should greet this outing as warmly as its predecessor.”

Dan Callahan (The Wrap)
“The major problem with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — the fifth installment in this dinosaur series, and the second of a prospective trilogy — is that the makers treat the action and suspense sequences in the way most of us go to the dentist. Director J. A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) goes through the motions of these scenes, even staging a ‘hiding from dinosaurs’ set piece that was the most memorable section of Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park movie from 1993. But what was exciting and scary then feels expected and very hackneyed now. This new Jurassic begins with a tedious sequence set during a nighttime rainstorm where one of the dinosaurs wakes from its slumber to scare some men. This is shot and edited in such a sluggish way that it comes close to feeling inept, but mainly it suffers from lack of enthusiasm.”

Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair)
“While the first half of the film is a petty perfunctory rehash of 1997’s The Lost World, with poachers rounding up dinosaurs for profit and a little bit of sport, the second half of Fallen Kingdom does something nifty. Bayona revisits some aesthetics and moods from his lauded 2007 horror film The Orphanage by turning Fallen Kingdom into something of a spooky mansion movie, rainy and atmospheric and full of creeping shadows. It’s an unexpected reduction in scale and commitment to specificity, not what we often see in follows-up to smash hits. But these are proportions that Bayona knows how to work in, and from them he crafts something clever and goofy and jumpy. Of course he’s mandated to enlarge the purview of the film — or, really, of the franchise — by the end, but for a while there he gets to play around on his own terms. It’s a surprising delight.”

Matt Singer (ScreenCrush)
“Director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) has a way with striking, monstrous visuals, and Fallen Kingdom has a few. (It also has one extremely clever ‘chase’ scene involving Chris Pratt trying to outrun a wall of lava.) But the plot mechanics by writers Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (who also directed Jurassic World) needed to get from Isla Nublar to the Lockwood home are so laughable, as are any number of events required to bring about the slasher film-style chaos of the third act, that they repeatedly undercut the movie’s thrills. This isn’t just a film you need to ‘turn off your brain’ to enjoy; nothing less than surgically removing your brain from your body would do the trick.”

Eric Kohn (IndieWire)
“In the wake of the box-office lunacy that drove Jurassic World to become the fifth-highest grossing movie of all time, Fallen Kingdom is a frustrating display of overconfidence. It’s occasionally elevated by director J.A. Bayona’s penchant for taut human-versus-dino showdowns, but fleeting moments of inspired filmmaking can’t overshadow the broader tendency of this material to sag into stupidity. Campy dialogue and ludicrous plot twists abound: The fate of these resurrected creatures remains uncertain, but the formula for their movies will never go extinct.”

Emma Stefansky (UPROXX)
“There is a little bit of the wonder and joy that made the original so special embedded deep within Fallen Kingdom, which I credit to Bayona, whose primary drive, even in genre fare like this, has always been to sprinkle just enough emotion into the stories he tells. The plot of this feels less forced, and overall less cynical, than Jurassic World, though I don’t think I could ever believe that in the reality of these movies dinosaurs are treated like a boring commodity, bought and sold and updated and improved upon in order to still be interesting — much like how Universal has treated this whole franchise, forcing it to evolve without considering whether or not it can, or should, survive.”

Gav Murphy (IGN)
“J.A. Bayona feels like the perfect director to take control of Fallen Kingdom after proving he can handle large-scale destruction with confidence but is equally capable of delivering intimate scares. There are echoes of his previous works such as The Impossible (big old natural disaster) and The Orphanage (creepy old secret-filled house) in Fallen Kingdom but more impressive is how it draws on further inspirations like Alfred Hitchcock and Hammer horror style suspense. The latter is definitely felt throughout the film and Bayona’s use of light and shadows to create tension is one of the highlights of Fallen Kingdom. Whether it’s a toothy Baryonyx stalking through a tunnel lit by a menacing drop of lava or the claws of the terrifying new Indoraptor illuminated by a child’s night-light, Bayona’s horror seems classy and rarely resorts to simply jump scares.”

Mark Kumode (The Guardian)
“Certainly, like the ‘Indominus rex‘ at the centre of its genetically spliced action, this cinematic theme park ride is bigger, louder, and has more teeth than either Jaws or Jurassic Park. Yet what it gains in size it loses in terms of dramatic logic and, more importantly, character chemistry. While the 3D beasts are undeniably impressive, their human counterparts remain resolutely two-dimensional thanks to a script that mistakes tone-deaf jumps and starts for emotional arcs. The result is a spectacular summer blockbuster that will doubtless eat the box office alive, but that remains all bark and no bite.”

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens June 22.

type
  • Movie
Genre
mpaa
  • PG-13
release date
  • 06/22/18
director
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