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“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

I seem to be noticing a trend among people to distrust film critics growing these days. To me, it seems like people are opting to go see the film and decide for themselves. For some, it’s because of shill critics. Others because of critics pushing a political ideology. And some just don’t feel like critics understand how the general audience feels about movies. This is a move I applaud, as I want people to be as free-thinking as possible. Don’t judge a movie based on what the critics say, because sometimes their opinion isn’t the best representation of a film.

No more is this apparent than with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” You’ll be hard pressed to find many positive reviews of this film, with a critic score of 49% on Rotten Tomatoes and 51% on Metacritic. And yet, it’s a film that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The plot is set three years after the events of “Jurassic World”, with the park being abandoned and the dinosaurs roaming Isla Nublar (the setting of “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World”). However, the island’s dormant volcano becomes active and threatens to return the animals to extinction. Former park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) mount an environmental effort to rescue the species and deliver them to a sanctuary, racing against the volcano and dealing with a shadowy group with their own plans for the dinosaurs.

This is the basic plot synopsis I can give without spoilers. I do not wish to spoil anything, but I can say that most of the ‘plot holes’ listed by critics are either non-existent or over-exaggerated. I’m not going to lie and pretend that the plot is perfect. There are several moments where you have to let suspension of disbelief kick in. Also, there are some character choices and dialogue that could have been improved, however, for the most part, it seems people are over-exaggerating these things. Again, I’m not going to lie and say that this film has no flaws, but I think that these flaws are blown out of proportion.

But enough about the flaws, what about the positives? First off: the direction. Colin Trevorrow stepped down as director, and Juan Antonio Bayona was instead given the helm. While “Jurassic World” had brighter lighting, a more vibrant color palette, and a more stylish feel befitting the premise of a modern, fully-operational dinosaur theme park, “Fallen Kingdom” is the antithesis, with dark and gritty colors, and an emphasis on Gothic horror, both with the direction and set pieces. This fits as this is, by far, one of the darker entries into the “Jurassic Park” franchise, story-wise.

And what about this plot? After all, this is the fifth installment in a franchise about a dinosaur theme park. Surely there would be no way this plot could be innovative. While “Fallen Kingdom” does borrow its basic plot concept and structure from “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” it incorporates plotlines and concepts from “Jurassic World,” as well as its own twists and turns to make it stands on its own as a movie, and it ultimately takes the franchise in a different direction. Despite heavy borrowing from other films, this film has made itself a turning point for the future of “Jurassic Park.”

That’s not even mentioning the visual effects and acting. One thing I felt let down on was the visual effects in “Jurassic World.” While the level of detail and animation on the CGI models was fantastic, the color palette and lighting seemed to not mesh well in many shots. It wasn’t too fake-looking, but it felt sub-par in comparison to other entries. “Fallen Kingdom” kicks the visual effects up to eleven, both in realism and in style. The CGI is some of the best I’ve seen in a movie, and the practical models are good as well. I’d say this is a return to form for a franchise that originally broke ground in the special effects department.

The acting is fairly good too. Pratt and Howard are terrific as the main leads and fit their given roles just as well as in the previous installment. Rafe Spall is cast as human antagonist Eli Mills, and while his character is written as a bit of a cliché and predictable, he does a good job performing it, and being that villain you hate. Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Isabella Sermon, and James Cromwell are some of the new faces introduced in the supporting cast, and again, while some of their characters’ writing could be improved, they all do a good job at portraying their given role.

So, what’s the verdict? Well, the film just became available in stores, and despite my praise for it, I would recommend you decide for yourself. I obviously enjoy this film and give it high praise, but again, critics aren’t always the best presenters of a film. So I would recommend you not only look at critic’s scores but more importantly, talk to the audience. Look at people’s comments and audience reviews and decide if this is a movie worth your money. Or if you’d rather, just rent it for a night on Pay-per-view and decide for yourself.   

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