Updated: Apr 1
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
A Carnotaurus eyes Claire’s right-hand hacker and systems analyst Franklin Webb (Justice Smith).
“JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy; 2018, PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril; streaming via Amazon Video, FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), iTunes (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube
Best extra: “The Kingdom Evolves”
FOUR YEARS AGO, it was a Hollywood rag to riches tale when 38-year-old Colin Trevorrow was handpicked by executive producer Steven Spielberg to write and direct “Jurassic World.”
The Vermont filmmaker and husband, with two kids, had only one movie under his belt: a low-budget sci-fi fantasy “Safety Not Guaranteed,” made for a mere $750,000, the tale of a Seattle supermarket clerk who claims he’s invented a time machine.
Trevorrow sold Spielberg and producer Frank Marshall with not just one movie, but a complete trilogy that would resurrect one of Hollywood’s richest franchises (three films, $3 billion).
He and writing partner Derek Connolly wrote their first draft of “Jurassic World” in a Santa Monica hotel room. Trevorrow worked out the plot and structure, while Connolly handled the characters. “I wanted to infuse the spirit of ‘Jurassic’ into our movie,” says the director. Trevorrow grew up watching Spielberg movies, sneaking out of his parent’s house for a midnight showing of “Jurassic Park” during the summer of 1993.
“Jurassic World” ended up smashing the all-time, three-day box-office record making $207 million when it hit theaters, topping $1.6 billion worldwide. Top critics were reasonably in favor giving it a 60 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Moviegoers were more engrossed giving it 78 percent.
WHEN it came time for the second installment, “Fallen Kingdom,” Trevorrow and Connolly knew they wanted J.A. Bayona for director. The Spanish filmmaker has a reputation for moody suspense with “The Orphanage” (2007), based on a true story, and the tragic fantasy “A Monster Calls” (2016). “He lives in a world of childhood nightmares,” Trevorrow says in one of nine featurettes included on the 4K disc, a first for Universal.
During the featurette “The Kingdom Evolves,” Bayona recalls when he first saw Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park.” “I knew that from that moment on, everything would be possible for the big screen, no matter how crazy that would be, in a realistic way.”
Spielberg approved Bayona’s “Jurassic” adaptation after one screening, which he watched by himself. He called the opening “a grand spectacle, which becomes a claustrophobic experiment in terror.”
The storyline of “Fallen Kingdom” takes place three years after “Jurassic World,” still requiring a lot of running for returning co-stars Chris Pratt as former Navy SEAL and raptor wrangler Owen Grady, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing, the former Jurassic operations manager, now a dinosaur-rights activist.
Both have been recruited by Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), one of the original dino bioengineers, for a rescue mission to save 11 dinosaur species including the highly intelligent Blue, the raptor trained by Owen. All are planned to be relocated to an island sanctuary before a massive volcano on Isla Nublar explodes. The geographic description in Michael Crichton’s original novel now spurts lava and flaming rocks into the sky threatening a gruesome fate for the remaining dinosaurs. Others have a less altruistic plan in mind.
Bayona and his crew set up camp on the east shore of Hawaii’s Oahu (24-miles from Honolulu) for the jungle sequences. The majority was filmed at the 4,000 acres Kualoa Ranch, the spot where the herd of Gallimimus nearly ran over Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and the children in the original “Jurassic Park.” Interiors were filmed at Pinewood Studios in London, where a full-scale Baryonyx head was used to motivate high-pitched screams from junior cast member Justice Smith (“Every Day”), Claire’s right-hand hacker and systems analyst Franklin Webb. Daniella Pineda completes the team as former military vet Zia Rodriguez.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the headlong chase. Everyone, including the dinosaurs, end up in Northern California at Lockwood’s gigantic Victorian home, where our heroes find a secret mad scientist lab in the sub-basement. The game plan is to auction off the creatures to the highest bidders for use in global warfare.
There’s always a child in peril to ensure viewers stay on the edge of their seats. Isabella Sermon takes the part as Lockwood’s granddaughter, Maisie, with plucky attitude and plenty of screaming. She has a guaranteed role in the third installment.
Trevorrow, who directed “Jurassic World,” should have remained behind the helm. By borrowing plot turns from earlier “Jurassic” films, slowing pace, and weakening Claire Dearing’s character (she falls from feisty manager and aunt to whiny crusader), “Fallen Kingdom” fell short of the previous “Jurassic World,” earning a disappointing $1.3 billion worldwide.
Digitally captured on 6.5K and 3.4K cameras (2.39:1 aspect ratio), “Fallen Kingdom” appears to be mastered in 2K and then upconverted to 4K. No clear info has been released. There’s an obvious uptick in overall sharpness and clarity, while the HDR10 and Dolby Vision toning offers genuine visual improvements. There are excellent black levels during the darker scenes that dominate the last half of “Fallen Kingdom.” Facial toning is also natural; the overall color palette is rich and saturated from lava reds to jungle greens.
Universal delivers an aggressive DTS:X eight-channel soundtrack (default DTS-HD) that pushes a number of effects and music cues from composer Michael Giacchino to height speakers, while others bounce around the room. The bass response is especially powerful during the volcanic explosion, giving subwoofers a real workout.
No, it’s not as thrilling as “Jurassic World.” Fans saw “Fallen Kingdom” as just another “chapter” in a lucrative franchise. The story seems more a set-up for additional films, maybe a cable or streaming series. Even so, it still provides plenty of lighthearted fun, while supplying a first-rate 4K upgrade for your growing library.
― Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer
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