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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Blu-ray)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG-13 // September 18, 2018 // Region Free
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted October 3, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

Universal probably should not have spent just south of $200 million to make a movie from a terrible script, but hey, that's show business. The second film in the rebooted Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is disappointing in its failure to capitalize on its promises to create a scarier, spook-house atmosphere and ramp up the stakes from the overly glossy Jurassic World. That film's director, Colin Trevorrow, returns to pen this script with Derek Connolly, and it is rather atrocious. Fallen Kingdom unspools like two halves of completely different movies; as if the writers wanted to get dinosaurs back to America but did not really care how that happened. This causes the homeland action to suffer, too, and Fallen Kingdom is even less intense than its predecessor, despite Director J.A. Bayona's (The Impossible) seemingly good intentions. The good-natured Chris Pratt and the less-annoying-this-time Bryce Dallas Howard work with what they're given, which at least includes some pretty cool effects and stunt work, but Fallen Kingdom is a new low for the franchise.

Several years after the Jurassic World resort on Isla Nublar got wrecked by rampaging dinosaurs, a volcano threatens to wipe out the surviving specimens on the island. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) testifies before Congress that the eruption may be nature correcting the mistake of bringing back dinosaurs from extinction. Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), former partner of Jurassic Park creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), does not agree, and hires Claire Dearing (Howard), former operations manager at Jurassic World and current dinosaur-rights activist, to return to Isla Nublar with a team to help extract the dinosaurs. She convinces Owen Grady (Pratt), the park's former Velociraptor handler, to return and attempt to save dinosaur Blue, and brings along several colleagues, including Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda). They fly to the island and quickly discover mercenaries are already loading dinosaurs on ships under the direction of Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), a mercenary hired by Lockwood's duplicitous assistant Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). The group rushes to save Blue and other dinosaurs as the volcano begins to erupt

If I had to describe the narrative of Fallen Kingdom in a word, it would be "uninspired." Even Pratt and Howard are given lazy re-introductions here. The big push to save the dinosaurs feels about as urgent as picking up dog shit in the back yard. Our heroes spend roughly the first half of the 128-minute film on the island dodging dinosaurs and antagonistic mercenaries, who leave Grady, Dearing and company to die before setting sail back to America with a cargo of lethal predators. What are they doing with the dinosaurs? Well, Mills and co-conspirator Gunnar Eversol (Toby Jones) are going to auction them off to private buyers in what has to be the stupidest idea to make money ever. The movie completely ignores the fact that the United States Government would bring the hammer down immediately on anyone in possession of a motherfucking dinosaur stolen from Isla Nublar. But I digress. A subplot involves a newly created dinosaur, the Indoraptor, which is Velociraptor/Indominus rex hybrid that is brought to the bidding floor fully awake and ready to escape and kill attendees. Did I mention Fallen Kingdom is pretty stupid?

Had the filmmakers settled on one story and developed that accordingly, Fallen Kingdom may have been more effective. The removal of the dinosaurs from the island amid an outside threat could have been exciting, particularly if it allowed for further exploration of Isla Nublar. A separate, dinosaurs-amid-civilization story may have been interesting, too, though the mediocre The Lost World: Jurassic Park already covered that in 1997. A post-credits scene here hints that the third sequel in this new trilogy will be such a film, so I hope returning director Trevorrow improves the formula. The supporting characters are caricatures here, particularly the overly obvious Mills and Lockwood's granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who spends most of the third act screaming and running around her grandfather's mansion. Bayona talked extensively about creating a scarier film this go-round, and he simply failed to do so. There are no true jolts, and at no point did I think any major character was at risk of getting eaten. A shame, since Smith's park technician character is about as entertaining as Jar Jar Binks. At least the visual effects are impressive and the dinosaurs look good, which is key to an effective Jurassic Park film. I'm being pretty harsh to the film, which has fleeting moments of greatness, like an underwater rescue amid falling lava and ash. Fallen Kingdom is not awful, but it is awfully disappointing.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

The 2.39:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is stunning, which is not surprising since it comes from the usually consistent Universal Studios. There is little, if anything, to complain about here, and I suspect this image could only be bested by a 4K offering. Clarity and fine-object detail are off the charts; from close ups of grimy, bloody faces to dinosaur eyes and teeth to foliage on Isla Nublar to the interior of Lockwood Manor, the sets, costumes and characters come alive in spectacular detail. Wide shots stretch for miles without digital noise or breaks in clarity; and close-ups reveal intimate facial features and expressions. Colors are bold and nicely saturated; black levels are impressive; and shadow detail is abundant. Contrast and skin tones are spot-on throughout, and the image looks natural in motion. I may have seen a millisecond of banding, but that's stretching to find something to criticize.

SOUND:

The DTS:X soundtrack, which I sampled as a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix, is rambunctious, like the dinosaurs that it brings to life. I criticized the soundtrack on the recent 4K release of Avengers: Infinity War for its low volume level and lack of subwoofer oomph, but Fallen Kingdom has no such issues. This mix rocks and rolls but maintains element integrity and clarity throughout, without a hint of feedback or distortion. In fact, range is excellent; even quieter scenes are impressive, offering ambient background noise to immerse the viewer. The action sequences offer frequent sound pans and plenty of LFE support. Lava rockets behind the viewer, gunfire wizzes through the surrounds, and the dinosaurs ROAR. French and Spanish DTS-HD HR 7.1 mixes are also included, as are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and both iTunes and UltraViolet HD digital copies. The discs are packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a glossy slipcover that replicates the terribly generic cover artwork. I HATE the way Universal presents the bonus features here. Basically, you get a list of short clips without any "Play All" function. I'm not sure if the material is broken down to avoid actor residuals, but this presentation is obnoxious. Here is what you get: On Set with Chris and Bryce (3:05/HD); The Kingdom Evolves (4:33/HD); Return to Hawaii (2:41/HD); Island Action (6:01/HD); Aboard the Arcadia (5:53/HD); Birth of the Indoraptor (4:09/HD); Start the Bidding! (3:18/HD); Death by Dino (1:33/HD); Monster in a Mansion (3:06/HD); Rooftop Showdown (3:48/HD); Malcolm's Return (3:07/HD); VFX Evolved (7:08/HD); Fallen Kingdom: A Conversation (10:16/HD); A Song for the Kingdom; and Chris Pratt's Jurassic Journals (12:08 total/HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This second sequel in the new Jurassic Park trilogy fails to capitalize on promises to increase the scares, stakes and action from its predecessor. Chris Pratt is game as the film's lead, but Director J.A. Bayona's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom suffers from a lousy script and lack of fresh ideas. The Blu-ray offers excellent A/V specs and middling bonus features. Rent It.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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