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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Jurassic World-A Fallen Kingdom: Tyrannosaurus, Baryonyx, Indoraptor, Pterosaurs Carnotaurus, Mosaurus, Thesaurus and some human

Jurassic World-A Fallen Kingdom: Tyrannosaurus, Baryonyx, Indoraptor, Pterosaurs Carnotaurus, Mosaurus, Thesaurus and some humans

You’ve got to give it to them. Since the film is about dinosaurs, they filled the screen with myriad variations on the thematic anima/bird. Problem is, they all do almost the same thing, except with the handler, and that too when he pretends to be sad. The ‘same thing’ is making ferocious calls, and then getting into the seek-and-destroy anything human mode.

Humans are broadly divided into three species as far as dinosaurs in this film go: protect them, kill them and sell them at vulgar prices. Very few survive the battle of ferocious battalions, and yes, they include some dinosaurs. Why? If you are asking, then you do not know much about sequels.

Fallen Kingdom is second instalment of a planned Jurassic World trilogy. During a stormy night on the island of Isla Nublar--the site of the Jurassic World theme park that was abandoned three years earlier--a mercenary team attempts to retrieve a DNA sample of the deceased hybrid dinosaur, Indominus Rex, whose remains are in the park's Mosasaurus lagoon. On the surface, a team member opens the gates to allow a small submarine to enter into the lagoon and retrieve the DNA sample. However, the Mosasaurus kills the submarine crew after they deliver the sample to the surface. The remaining mercenaries flee, when the park's Tyrannosaurus arrives, consequently leaving the gate open for the Mosasaurus to escape into the ocean.

On the mainland, there is an ongoing debate on whether Isla Nublar's dinosaurs should be saved from the island's volcano, which is about to erupt. During a U.S. Senate hearing, Dr. Ian Malcolm states that the dinosaurs should be left to die, as he believes that cloning them was a mistake, and that nature is correcting the mistake. Former park manager Claire Dearing has created the Dinosaur Protection Group, to save the creatures, along with Franklin, a former park technician, and Zia, a paleo-veterinarian (dictionaries, anyone?). However, with the senate decision to reject rescue of the dinosaurs, Claire's mission is over, as she has neither the funds, nor the technical support nor the money. Out of the blue, she is contacted by Benjamin Lockwood, John Hammond's partner in creating the cloning technology. The mission is on.

Based on characters created by Michael Crichton in his novel Jurassic Park, published in 1990, this marks his fifth film and a sixth is following. Since Jurassic Park was made in 1993, this is the silver jubilee year as the creator of the realm. Colin Trevorrow (Making World, Reality Show, Jurassic World I—co-wrote and directed) and Derek Connolly (Safety not Guaranteed, Jurassic World--with Colin Trevorrow, Monster Trucks) have worked o the screenplay of Fallen Kingdom. As indicated above, a sizeable chunk of footage is hogged by the early inhabitants of our planet, who find themselves in the 21st century, cloned and unfamiliar with the terrain, and the homo sapiens who populate it. You are bound to lose track of which one belongs to which phylum, because at that pitch, their toothy war-cries sound all the same. The game is all about who or what will they attack next, and will the do-gooders survive the dual frontiers of the creatures and the unholy gang that wants to auction the caché. But it does seems facile to show these brute-strength, elephant-sized (sometimes even bigger) caged in normal facilities, from which they repeatedly escape. Add to that Uncle Sam is not in the picture at all, whereas he and his intelligence would have had all the second-by-second info on such large scale operations that have high-grade ammunition and volcanic eruption going off and going on for hours, if not days.

Sitting in the director’s chair is J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible, A Monster Calls). He has the ingredients: endangered species, indifferent government, unscrupulous business barons, a mercenary who will do anything for money, committed crusaders ad a cloned human. Excluding the plethora of dinosaurs and the cloned human angle, all the characters have a trope, déjà vu feel.

A hint of the shape of things to come is placed at the end-credits, at the very end. Only two people must have seen it when I was part of the audience and I was not one of the lucky few. Only two people were still on their seats as I trudged out. Two important questions arise: Are dinosaurs pretty or pet-worthy? Or are they terrifying man-eaters that will not replace or co-exist with cats, dogs, fish, birds and hamsters? Give it a thought. Two stars are cast in relatively small roles—one an old lady and the other a slightly younger man. Both had potential to display talent, had it been in the fitness of things.

Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, The Magnificent Seven) as Owen Grady, the dinosaur trainer helps bring out the humane side of dinosaurs and does a decent job. Bryce Dallas Howard (Spiderman 3, Terminator Salvation, Jurassic World) as Claire Dearing, Owen’s ex-girlfriend, a dinosaur-rights activist, has the go-getting spirit. Rafe Spall as Eli Mills, Lockwood's ambitious right-hand man who will stoop as low as he can to further the fortunes of Lockheed and the evil spirit emerges soon enough. Not a very convincing role, but he manages to pull it off.

Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversoll, an auctioneer host at Lockwood Estate who sells the dinos for millions of dollars each, not much different from a rogue arms dealer. Diminutive he may be, but he does live the character. James Cromwell is Sir Benjamin Lockwood, John Hammond's former partner in developing the technology to clone dinosaurs, now reduced to wheel-chair. He looks the part ad evokes sympathy, though he also comes across as naïve, thanks to the script.

Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood, the granddaughter of Benjamin Lockwood, is the quintessential, curious pre-teenager, who nurses fear too, and is often undecided. Ted Levine as Ken Wheatley, a seasoned mercenary who is in command of the rescue operation on Isla Nublar, enacts the role with dead-pan fixation o the one thing that makes him move: money. Geraldine Chaplin as Iris, the housekeeper of the Lockwood Estate, Maisie Lockwood's nanny, either needed at least two more scenes to make her presence felt, as did Jeff Goldblum, who is cast as Dr. Ian Malcolm, an expert in chaos theory, who once consulted for InGen's Jurassic Park. Two good actors wasted.

In supporting roles are Justice Smith as Franklin Webb, Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez, a former Marine, and B. D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu, the former head geneticist of Jurassic World and the original Jurassic Park. John Williams delivers the music score, as he usually does, on a critically high note.

Avoid comparing and stop looking for breakthrough plot points, and you might just find Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom breaking the fall. But only just. Recommended for T. Rex, Baryonyx, Indoraptor, Pterosaurs Carnotaurus, Mosaurus, Thesaurus and some humans.

Not recommended for discerning cinegoers and franchise fans who will compare trope for trope and CGI for CGI.

Rating: ** ½


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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