Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

jurassic_world_fallen_kingdom_ver7STARS1.5I think it’s pretty clear that the only Jurassic movie that ever NEEDED to be made in this whole blessed series was the very first entry.   Allow me to clarify with an explanation that admittedly reeks of arrogance.  The whole point was to show the wonder of an emerging technology in which dinosaurs looked like they did indeed exist. We experienced jaw-dropping special effects and lots and lots of reaction shots at which Steven Spielberg is so good at giving us. It was simply the wonder of it all. I won’t pretend out of nostalgia that The Lost World and Jurassic Park III were any better than the schlocky entries they actually were. Nor do I think 2015’s Jurassic World was great art. However, and this is key, it had the best reason to exist since the first. I am an ardent apologist of Jurassic World. I am not alone. That production remains the sixth highest box office hit of all time in the U.S. and the fifth highest worldwide. It was the culmination of everything. For the first time, we got to see the park legitimately open and then, of course, fall apart right before our eyes in cataclysmic tragedy. As frivolously entertaining as 1970s disaster classics like The Towering Inferno or The Poseidon Adventure.

It has now been three years after the theme park debacle on a fictional Central American island. Back in the United States, an ongoing Senate debate over the fate of the dinosaurs rages on. An impending volcanic eruption threatens the very existence of the creatures on Isla Nublar. “Should they be saved?” is the question. Seems pretty obvious to me. Given the fact that many human lives have died at the hands of those unpredictable beasts, NO is the only sane response.  Ha! But then alas there would be no movie. In a rare glimpse of common sense, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) argues that the dinosaurs should be left to die. Despite his ubiquitous presence in the marketing, he only appears ever so very briefly in two hearings.  I’m guessing Mr. Goldblum’s time commitment couldn’t have required more than a few hours.

The production introduces a bunch of new characters, none of which are interesting. Preservationist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is called by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) who apparently wishes to relocate 11 species to a new island sanctuary.  Mills is acting as an agent on behalf of Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). Lockwood is a previously unknown partner of Jurassic Park’s original creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough).  That we would have never heard of this man after four installments takes a huge leap of faith, but whatever. Like his predecessor, Lockwood has no problem with cloning. The circumstances concerning the birth of his granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) involves a pointless reveal.  I can’t imagine any of these rote story beats need to be concealed but I’ll tread lightly.  Claire subsequently seeks Owen Grady’s (Chris Pratt) help to secure the raptor Blue, who is also loose on the island.  They’re joined by two nonentities that would’ve served better use as dino fodder. They work for Claire – technician Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and paleo-veterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda).  A mercenary team is also sent to help retrieve the dinosaurs headed up up Ken Wheatley.  He’s portrayed by Ted Levine and if you’re aware of the actor’s most famous role, you already know * SPOILER ALERT* he’s not a nice person.

Fallen Kingdom is an uncreative excuse to depict a lot of tedious pandemonium involving giant reptiles. Directed by ostensibly talented J. A. Bayona, the Spanish director has charted a steady decline from helming something great with The Orphanage (2017), good with The Impossible (2012), passable with A Monster Calls (20116) and now something truly wretched.  The volcano erupts.  What follows is a lot of monsters and humans running around in catastrophic chaos.  The mercenaries apprehend the creatures in their helicopters.  We later learn that Mills (Rafe Spall) isn’t as altruistic as we had originally thought. He meets with Gunnar Eversol (Toby Jones), an auctioneer who wants to have the dinosaurs sold for profit. They’ve also designed a new hybrid dinosaur combining the DNA of an Indominus and a Raptor, calling it the Indoraptor. Gasp!  It’s an even more technologically advanced version.  Do you really even care about the scientific mumbo jumbo?  I didn’t.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is part 5 for those keeping track and perhaps that is the breaking point in this franchise.  At least for me anyway.  You might be surprised to learn that I was really looking forward to this picture.  Now that I’ve seen this utterly shabby display of commercial product, I can scarcely remember to explain why.  My enthusiasm obliterated by a soulless commodity of corporate greed utterly bereft of creative ideas.  So bad, it casts doubt on whether Universal Studios still has the ability to invent worthwhile entrainment. I will offer a bit of praise. Returning heroes Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are slightly more likable this time around. Everyone one else behaves in a way that inspires contempt. The spectacle of the Indoraptor claw slowly reaching out toward Maise as she cowers in her bed is a striking image. But if you saw the trailer, that scene will be familiar.

The hollow screenplay is courtesy of writers Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, the director of the 2015 film. They seemingly have no interest in trying to even assemble a coherent plot. The tale clearly means for the profit-driven mercenaries to be the hissable villains. But I’m confused. Wasn’t the amusement park originally designed by individuals seeking monetary gain? Apparently, capitalism was an acceptable quality in episodes one through four, but now it’s considered a bad thing. It doesn’t seem so horrible to anyone who tries to logically understand the motivations of the so-called scoundrels that are simply trying to stay alive.  In other plot points, the drama posits a sort of a debate over whether dinosaurs are beautiful living things or horrible beasts. It’s never clear how we’re meant to feel. The schizophrenic script takes no position on the matter. Don’t try to rationalize any of the story beats. Money! Mayhem! Monsters! These are the reasons for a Hollywood product so formulaic it could induce a vegetative state. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is one of those movies that fans will tell you to “turn your brain off” to enjoy. I’d need a lot of help with this flick. I suppose I could consume enough alcoholic beverages to artificially dumb down my brain. However, I don’t want to die of alcohol poisoning.


17 Responses to “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

  1. Just when i thought Jurassic World was the rotten, bloated carcass of the original, they went ahead and made something worse? Really?

    Thanks for saving me some money and a pointlessly aggressive review. These things make JP3 look like high art.


    • Sometimes my opinion differs, but this time the general consensus seems to be that this is worse than the last entry. If you didn’t like Jurassic World (2015), don’t waste your time with this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. smilingldsgirl Says:

    It’s not a good movie but I havent liked any of the sequels and did not like Jurassic World. This had some set pieces I liked where I felt Bayona was trying and I appreciated them fleshing out Claire a little bit from the ice queen of the last movie. But it’s a hard movie to defend even if it didnt irritate me like Jurassic World which had such potential only to be a skunk. Sigh. Oh well


  3. The moment the movie started and we were introduced to two new characters, I had a bad feeling. I wanted them to be throwaway Dino dinner too. They weren’t. From that moment I just watched. Somehow I was able to somewhat enjoy it. Don’t ask me what the story was, or if anything made sense. It was lazy. Too bad, I’m always a fan. 3 stars


    • I was expecting to see a lot more fatalities. Quite surprised at how many people actually made it to the very end. I guess they’re contracted for Part 3. 🙄


  4. Martin1250 Says:

    i too liked Jurassic World from 2015. that was a nice surprise,
    especially considering it was the 4th in the franchise. Neither Jaws or Alien were able to accomplish a good 4th movie.


    • Martin1250 Says:

      (correction)….’accomplish a 4th installment that was good’


    • Jaws is a good comparison. Both were started by Spielberg and had one great and at least one good entry. However the simple idea of “nature gone wrong” makes each additional movie seem like humans really haven’t learned anything. 😂 😂 😂


  5. You didn’t seem to have any trouble coming up with ways to tell us why this latest Jurassic entry turned out to be the turkey that it was. In fact, maybe you had more fun doing that than writing up your average 4-star. I’ll tell you this much: it was more fun to read.


  6. I passed on a screening last Tue, in small part cause I forgot to RSVP by the Mon 12pm deadline. In large part because I didn’t really care. If I did, I would have done so much earlier and not leave to chance!

    Reading your 4th paragraph makes me feel like I made a good decision in passing on this one.


  7. Jurassic world fallen kingdom is quite frightening when compared to its previous version and will have a sequel to this version as well. Watching this movie will definitely shoot your adrenaline.


  8. GaryGreg828 Says:

    I thought Jurassic World was pretty good, but this one was a clunker. I just looked at your 1&1/2 star rating and laughed, b/c that’s about what I thought of it, as well.


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