Genres: Science Fiction, Action/Adventure, and just a pinch of romance.
Length: 22 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 3 Stars
A mysterious signal coming from deep space attracts the attention of humanity’s scientists and the soldiers who protect them—the kind of attention the originators of the signal will do anything to avoid. When the two converge, first contact doesn’t go the way either side planned. * FRACTALS is set in an alternative universe from the Aurora Rhapsody novels and short stories, but it features several of the same characters.
Content Warning: A space battle (but no injuries or deaths were described during it). I will not discuss it in my review.
Following protocol doesn’t always work well in situations that humanity has never experienced before.
Alexis and her coworkers struck me as people who had memorized all of the rules but didn’t always know why those rules had been put into place or when they could be reasonably bent. Their disagreements about how to react to what could possibly be first contact with an intelligent alien species were as humorous as they were true to all of these characters’ personalities. Honestly, I wouldn’t have expected anything other than a few professional but sometimes terse arguments along the way as they figured out what they wanted to do next.
This would have benefitted from another round of editing in my opinion. The narrator switched between verb tenses so often that I became confused. There were also some characters who were introduced with very little explanation of who they were or how they were connected to anyone else. While I certainly didn’t expect to have everything spoon fed to me during my first introduction to this world, this would have been easier to understand if the narrator had been a little more assertive about filling the readers in on the basics of what we needed to know due to the author’s comments on Amazon about this being a series that didn’t need to be read in any particular order.
The ending made me chuckle. No, I won’t spoil anything about it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way Ms. Jennsen veered off into a totally new direction with it. What a creative take on the idea of how first contact with an alien species is supposed to go. Not only did she clear up some of my questions about what was going on, she made me wonder what other surprises might be hidden in this universe.
Film Content Warning: blood, hypodermic needles, animal abuse, and animal deaths. These scenes were brief and were often more implied than actually shown. As always, this otherwise will be a spoiler-free review, and I’m happy to share more details in private with anyone who requests them.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a 2018 science fiction adventure film that is the sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World. Fallen Kingdom is set on a fictional island about 200 miles southwest of Costa Rica called Isla Nublar where all of the dinosaurs from Jurassic World were relocated from a failed amusement park before this tale began.
Isla Nublar was intended to be the permanent home for the dinosaurs. When scientists realized that the volcano on that island was soon going to erupt, the main characters in this universe had to decide how and where to relocate the dinosaurs before Isla Nublar was destroyed.
If you haven’t seen Jurassic World or the original Jurassic Park trilogy from the 90s, before, don’t worry. There are plenty of references to the earlier instalments in the later films that are fun Easter eggs for devoted fans, but everything in this franchise has worked well as standalone stories so far. I will briefly fill you in on a few important details in my character descriptions, too.
I began discussing characters in the past tense in my first horror film review here to avoid the slightest whiff of spoilers about their fates. This is something I’ve continued doing for the sake of blog continuity and should not be interpreted in any other way.
This cast is on the larger side, but it’s important to know who everyone is before I jump into my review.
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Own Grady was the Animal Behaviourist hired by Ben to help round up as many dinosaurs as possible on Isla Nublar before the volcano destroyed them. He had previously worked as a Velociraptor trainer for the Jurassic World theme park in the first part of this trilogy, so he was an expert on the topic.
While he was impulsive at times, Owen was at heart a deeply kind and brave man.
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Claire was the former Operations Manager of Jurassic World. After that theme parked closed down, she became a dinosaur-rights activist and founder of the Dinosaur Protection Group. Their mission was to round up as many dinosaurs on Isla Nublar as possible and relocate them somewhere safer.
Unlike some of the men around her, Claire was both emotionally and intellectually intelligent. She knew exactly how to read subtle signals from another person and adjust her behaviour accordingly. I try to avoid picking favourite characters in my reviews, but she was the lynchpin of this film.
James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood
Sir Lockwood was one of the two people who originally invented the cloning techniques that brought dinosaurs back to life approximately twenty-five years before this tale began. He was as brilliant as ever, but his attention to detail had begun to waver due to his deteriorating physical condition.
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Maisie was Sir Lockwood’s granddaughter and heir. She had inherited his love of dinosaurs and science.
Rafe Spall as Eli Mills
Eli was Sir Lockwood’s personal assistant who required Owen and Claire to join the dinosaur rescue mission. He was an intelligent, ambitious man who was cautious about who he trusted and how much information he shared with them about his work.
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Franklin was a former IT Technician for Jurassic World who now worked with Claire at the Dinosaur Protection Group. His technological knowledge was excellent, and his quirky personality brought a dash of humour to the plot.
Daniella Pineda as Zia Rodriguez
Zia was the paleoveterinarian for the Dinosaur Protection Group.
She did a wonderful job of thinking on her feet in a crisis. Along with Franklin, she was a character I wish had been given more opportunity to shine in the plot. What I saw of their personalities was well-developed, and I loved the way they interacted with the rest of the rescue crew.
Ted Levine (centre) as Ken Wheatley. The characters behind him are his fellow mercenaries.
Ken Wheatley was a season mercenary hired by Eli Mills to provide protection for the rescue crew while they were rounding up dinosaurs.
He was a tough, assertive man who felt most comfortable when he was in charge.
B.D. Wong as Henry Wu
Henry was the head geneticist of both Jurassic World and the original Jurassic Park. There was no one in this universe who knew more about dinosaurs than he did.
One of the most interesting things about this film was how many different conflicts it included. The first quarter of the show were spent introducing the characters, explaining a few things about the first Jurassic World flick, and seeing how various characters reacted to the idea of saving the dinosaurs instead of letting them go extinct again.
No sooner was this conflict resolved than a few more took its place as the plot sped up. This was a cycle that happened multiple times during the roughly two-hour runtime, and it occasionally made me feel like I was watching a series of short films set in the same universe instead of one long one. This was something I grew to like quite a bit once I recognized the pattern.
The humour in this film was well done, especially when it came to Franklin’s lines. I mentioned earlier wishing that he and Zia had been given more screen time, and this was a big part of the reason why. They both had quietly lighthearted approaches to their roles that worked nicely for the subject matter.
Zia and Claire at the Dinosaur Protection Group Headquarters.
Obviously, this is an action and adventure movie, so keep that in mind when reading this paragraph. One of the things I didn’t like was how little attention was paid to character development. Would I expect characters in this genre to have rich inner lives and dozens of minutes apiece to explore then? Of course not, but I would have liked to see more examples of people stepping out of the boxes they’d been places in.
The plot was fast-paced and filled with exciting explosions and scuffles, but the characters were a bit too predictable for me. There’s a difference between following the tropes of a specific genre and being chained to them. I did find my attention wandering at times due to how quickly I figured out what would happen to which character, and I’m saying that as someone who enjoys this genre in general. This was something I noticed the most with Ken Wheatley and Henry Wu.
With that being said, I still had a good time watching it. The CGI and animatronics for the dinosaurs was excellent as usual, and I loved seeing how various species reacted to everything from seeing a human to being captured to encountering lava. How a carnivore reacted to these things was nothing at all like a herbivore’s reaction. What made it even more interesting was seeing how members of similar species responded to the same stimulus. Those scenes were clearly thought out and a lot of fun to watch, especially if Owen was involved in any way.
The ending was handled nicely as well. I liked the resolutions that were brought to certain conflicts as well as the new questions Fallen Kingdom asked that will hopefully be answered in the final instalment of this trilogy.