Director: J.A. Bayona
Screenplay: Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow
Release: June 22, 2018
Starring: Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing, Rafe Spall as Eli Mills, James Cromwell as Benjamin Lockwood, Justice Smith as Franklin Webb, and Daniella Pineda as Zia Rodriguez
Running time: 128 minutes
Warning: Review Contains Spoilers
Three years have passed since the events of Jurassic World and a volcanic eruption is expected to destroy Isla Nubar. The U.S. senate is holding a hearing to determine whether or not government money should be spent to rescue Nubar’s dinosaurs. In predictable first world fashion, an animal rights movement has sprung up to advocate for the saving of the dino clones. Among their numbers is Claire Dearing, former operations director for Jurassic World, who has founded her own dinorsaurs’ rights organization called the Dinosaur Protection Group. After a call to a U.S. senator proves fruitless, the god of all things thin plot related, deus ex machina, intervenes and Claire receives a call from Benjamin Lockwood. Lockwood is an eccentric billionaire, dinosaur enthusiast, and former business partner to John Hammond, and he wants to pay for an expedition to rescue twelve species from the island. Claire convinces Owen to go with her to the Island to rescue the dinosaurs. The next day, Owen and Claire, along with I.T. guy Franklin Webb and “paleo-veterinarian” Zia Rodriguez leave for the Island to rendezvous with a group of mercenaries who was sent ahead of them. Whilst on the island the four get double-crossed by the mercenaries and left for dead. It turns out that the mercenaries were actually hired by Lockwood’s assistant, Eli Mills. Eli wants to capture the dinosaurs and sell them for various uses. Betrayed and left for dead, the foursome manage to get onboard the mercenary company’s boat and stowaway back to civilization. When they make it back to Lockwood’s estate, Claire and Owen get captured and locked in a cell in the basement while Eli holds an auction to sell off dino clones to the highest bidder. From here, they escape through the use of a Stygimoloch, nature’s battering ram. Claire and Owen spy on the auction, where they find out that Eli Mills and Henry Wu have created yet another genetically engineered dinosaur, the Indoraptor. Owen busts of up the auction with a little help from nature’s battering ram. In all of the chaos, the Indoraptor gets free and goes on a rampage throughout the house, but in the end is stopped by Owen’s trusty velociraptor, “Blue.” Lockwood’s granddaughter frees the rest of the dinosaurs from the basement laboratory, and as she, Owen, Claire, Zia, and Franklin leave the mansion, Owen says a goodbye to Blue before she flees into the wilderness with the rest of the newly freed dinosaurs. Cut, print, bring on the sequel.
I took crafting that summary about as seriously as the filmmakers and the producers took this godawful film. Let’s start by answering some of the frankly dumb questions that this movie asks. It quite literally asks them, I’m not being witty or sarcastic or anything. First, should the government pay money to rescue what is essentially a private operation? The short answer is no. It was wrong and stupid when Bush and Obama did it with banks, solar panel manufacturers, and automobile manufacturers and those are industries that actually provide livelihoods for people (well, two of them are, one is a con to soak up government subsidies and grants). The dinosaurs in this movie are an ego project created by two eccentric rich guys with more money than sense. Don’t these dinosaurs deserve to be rescued? No, they should not exist. This isn’t a species whose loss would throw the ecosystem catastrophically out of whack, their a carnival attraction. So, no, the money should not be spent to rescue them and they don’t deserve special protections. Your philosophical quandaries are dumb, Collin Trevorrow. As dumb as the scripts you craft and the movies you direct.
I hope you weren’t alienated by my little political rant there. If you’re still with me, let’s continue. Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom is an ugly film. There is so much bad CGI in this movie that there are very few shots in its 128 minute running time that come anywhere close to being convincing, and all of those shots contain precisely zero dinosaurs. The original Jurassic Park, while not exactly one of my favourite films of the particular decade in which it was released, boasted some incredibly convincing digital effects for its time. Effects that still mostly hold up today. This film pisses all over that legacy. There are actually several shots in this 187 million dollar blockbuster where I would say the dinosaurs looked less convincing than they did in the 850,000 dollar Roger Corman-produced shlockfest Carnosaur. The characters of Claire and Owen are about the same as they were in the previous film. Claire is insufferable and gets in the way and Owen is a moronic oaf. Of course, this time, because it’s current year, they’re joined by an annoying, effeminate hipster male and a bitchy butch gal who don’t need no man. It goes without saying that the other two are equally insufferable. Effeminate hipster beta a.k.a. Franklin Webb seems like he is supposed to be a throwback to the comedy sidekick archetype that was so prevalent in action movies of the 80s and 90s, but written by a person who has never seen one of those movies. Franklin was just annoying and I found myself incredibly disappointed every time he survived a dino encounter. Zia is just a bitch through the whole film, she’s kind of like the reverse image of Claire. Claire is passive, inept, and shrill, Zia is domineering, shrill, and sarcastic. Also, Colin, man, stop making Claire and Owen a couple. I don’t think I have ever seen an onscreen couple with less chemistry than Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Of course, I suppose that isn’t helped by the fact that both of them seem like they’re just going through the motions doing these films until the damn check clears. Also, this plot is a blatant retread. This is the first half of Jurassic Park: The Lost World, and given the outro to this film, I suspect the inevitable part three will be the second half. This franchise, like the test tubes of dino DNA that have been so prominently featured throughout it, needs to be put on ice.
To put it bluntly, Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom is a terrible film. It’s loud, obnoxious, hyperkinetic, vacuous, and derivative, but at the same time, it has made over billion dollars at the box office. Yes, this movie that has had generally negative reactions from critics and fans alike currently sits at a 51 percent rotten critical score and 54 percent rotten audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It boasts a metacritic score of 51 out of 100. With that, I have to speak as an average cinema goer here and say that I agree with the people that complain about Hollywood’s glut of sequels, reboots, and the ubiquity of yearly franchises. That being said, if you want it to stop. If you want better films to be made, if you want these people to stop insulting your intelligence whilst they laugh all the way to the bank, you have to stop going to see these films. If you make Star Wars Episode IX, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Captain Marvel, Venom, or Jurassic World 3 flop as hard as Solo: A Star War Story, they will take notice. Complaining about it, whilst simultaneously forking over your 7.50 for a ticket to it doesn’t solve the problem.
Also, as a small post-script to all these newly minted ironic Jeff Goldblum fans that are popping out of the woodwork recently and fans of the first flick that are excited for the return of Ian Malcom, he’s only in this movie for five minutes. Don’t waste your time.