As Jeff Goldblum’s scientist remarked in the 1997 sequel, there were “oohs” and “ahhs,” closely followed by lots of “running and screaming”. But special effects have moved at a fair clip in the past two decades.
A generation reared on Andy Serkis’s motion capture performances are unlikely to bat an eyelid at a shiny brachiosaurus nibbling branches. That iconic line also reminds us that the “dinosaurs run amok” premise was a little old hat even 21 years ago.
That wasn’t a problem for director Colin Trevorrow with 2015’s Jurassic World, who knew his film could surf a wave of nostalgia. But Trevorrow, credited as producer and writer here, knew he had to do something slightly different for the follow-up.
His solution was to hire Spanish horror director JA Bayona and instigate a genreswitch about halfway through the movie.
The prehistoric monsters have finally been left to their own devices
It’s a clever move, although the film still feels too much in thrall of its 1990s predecessors. It’s now three years since the last ill-advised attempt to run a perfectly safe theme park on an island infested with carnivorous dinosaurs went up in smoke.
The prehistoric monsters have finally been left to their own devices but when an active volcano that none of the island’s genius scientists have noticed erupts, an elderly conservationist hits on a rescue plan.
This is Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the previously unmentioned business partner of Jurassic Park founder John Hammond (a portrait of Richard Attenborough hangs prominently on the wall of his stately home).
He wants to relocate the creatures to a new idyllic island, before they become extinct for a second time, and to mastermind the evacuation he hires a slick CEO called Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) whose sharp suits and English accent immediately mark him out as a potential villain. But theme park manager Claire and dashing dinosaur whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) ignore the omens and sign up for the mission.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the the fifth instalment of the dinosaur franchise
“What can go wrong?” asks Owen.
It doesn’t take long for him to find out. After a thrilling volcano eruption, a twist sees the action relocate to Lockwood’s American mansion and the action adventure film turns into a Gothic horror.
Bayona (who made the dark Spanish horror The Orphanage), summons up some creepy moments as our heroes chase through the mansion’s corridors. But it’s not like we’ve never seen the dinosaurs in a domestic setting before.
Some of the best moments of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original involved the monsters chasing the human heroes in the theme park’s kitchens. Bayona all but cuts and pastes some of Spielberg’s most memorable scares, like a scene where Maisie pulls a hatch door shut to escape a flaying talon.
It’s a respectful tribute but a little short of surprises. And when the scaly monster starts working out how to stage an ambush the Spielberg tribute turns into a scaly, 12A, version of Ridley Scott’s Alien.
The strong ending and a couple of brief scenes with Jeff Goldblum’s scientist suggest another turn lies ahead and the next film will follow the plot of the rebooted Planet Of The Apes trilogy.
Perhaps that will be enough to give the franchise some much-needed bite.
Fallen Kingdom is diverting enough but the “oohs” and “ahhs” are dangerously thin on the ground.
Welcome To Curiosity (15, 94 mins)
The strange case of film producer Ben Pickering, jailed for mortgage fraud in 2014, takes another twist with the release of Welcome To Curiosity.
This is the crime thriller the former Conservative Party prospective parliamentary candidate managed to shoot shortly being sent down.
The fact that he has managed to secure a theatrical release just months after his release makes it a genuine curiosity.
Allegedly made for just £200,000 (all figures from the former Tory candidate for Swansea West should be taken with a pinch of salt), the film serves as powerful example of how not to make a low budget film.
The usual advice for those with limited funds is to spend wisely but the ambitious 38-year-old had a different idea, recruiting a huge cast of nobodies and intertwining five separate stories in a bid to rip off Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
The setting is the fictional Cornish town of Curiosity, where an inexplicably American detective is hunting a psychopath who has just escaped from a “mental institute”.
Meanwhile, two armed robbers are having an achingly unfunny conversation about McDonald’s and there’s a trip to the dark side for an unconvincing beer salesman, some detective work for a crime-solving paperboy and nightmarish journey for a seemingly vulnerable hitchhiker.
The dialogue is awful, characters paperthin and the heist (the film’s centrepiece) happens off camera.
The failed politician and failed conman can now add failed film-maker to his CV.
McQueen (15, 111 mins)
What is the most dangerous job in the world? Stuntman, soldier, quality assessor for Benson & Hedges? After watching The Assassination Of Gianni Versace and learning of the death of Kate Spade, I begin to wonder whether fashion designer needs to be added to the list. Two untimely suicides feature prominently in the engrossing documentary McQueen.
We hear how depression and an inability to cope with the ageing process contributed to the death of fashionista Isabella Blow. But mostly documentary makers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui concern themselves with her equally troubled prodigy Lee Alexander McQueen, who took his own life at the age of 40.
The directors use the template established by Asif Kapadia’s Oscar-winning Amy Winehouse documentary.
Home videos and archive footage guide us through key events, while interviews with family, colleagues and the subject himself provide insight. Towards the end of his life McQueen was burnt out from running his own headlinegrabbing shows while juggling high profile positions at Givenchy and Gucci.
The death of his mentor Blow and his mother Joyce may have finally pushed him over the edge.
This clever, stylish, film doesn’t seek easy explanations but it does offer some astonishing examples of his genius.