When Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park debuted in 1993, it not only reinvented the summer blockbuster, but paired science and big-budget movie-making with a subject that fascinated audiences both young and old: dinosaurs. Thanks to its compelling source material from novelist Michael Crichton, the science was quasi-believable, adding to the allure and possibility that one day these behemoth beasts could trample around the earth once again. It’s a movie that still fills me with a childlike wonder. Cue the John Williams score, and I’m dead and done.
And then there’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Let’s just give a huge congratulations to Jurassic Park 3 up front. You are no longer the worst sequel in the franchise. Bravo!
It’s been three years since the events of Jurassic World and Isla Nublar has been abandoned by us human folk. An impending volcanic explosion threatens the life that still remains on the island, and Jeff Goldblum returns in a throwaway cameo to testify to the U.S. Senate on whether or not we should save the dinos from impending doom. According to Dr. Ian Malcolm, the dinosaurs should be left to die, correcting the wrongs that John Hammond did by bringing them into the world in the first place. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) feels otherwise, joining a plan with Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), to move the dinosaurs to a safe location. Lockwood’s aid, however, takes the reigns and hires a slew of baddies, and everything possible that can go wrong, does. Because this is a movie about dinosaurs eating people.
The first half is enjoyable enough, as Dearing and Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt, have you heard of him?) return to the island to scope out the scene. They’re double-crossed, their colleagues held captive, while the volcano spews liquid hot mag-ma (couldn’t resist). The dino-rific action feels pretty extra, but its devoid of everything that made the original so thrilling. There’s very little tension, few scares, and mostly just a lot of overdone CGI effects. And that’s the better part of Fallen Kingdom. The second half is the clunkiest as the dinos are relocated to Lockwood’s estate (without him knowing, he’s not the villain) and auctioned off to the highest bidder. I’m going to say that again.
There is a dinosaur auction. K.
To say this film is problematic—even for a blockbuster!—is an understatement. Here are a few other issues:
-Why was the park built on an island with an active volcano? (Was this ever mentioned before?) Even considering the fact that Hammond probably wanted to avoid government interference, still: why would you have a park in the middle of nowhere, a place thousands of civilians will flock to, only to have it share the same turf as a volcano waiting to blow? What are the legal ramifications on that? And the insurance!? OK, that’s going too far, but the sentiment stands.
-When dinosaurs are taken off the island, the wheels of this baby completely fall off. It happened in The Lost World, and it happens again here. All of these dinosaurs fit inside a mansion? And the mansion has the proper trappings to house them? How much does that cost? Why is this movie so stupid?
–The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 both take place on another island, Isla Sorna. Why doesn’t the Senate just move the dinos there?
-A new prototype of dino is introduced in this installment: the Indo-raptor. If you’ll remember back in Jurassic World, the park introduced the Indominus (not a word) Rex, which was a mix between a T-Rex and a raptor. The Indo-raptor, then, is a mix between the Indominus Rex and a raptor, so essentially, a mix of a T-Rex and raptor, mixed again with a raptor. Chew on that for a hot second. (“Yo dawg, we heard you like raptors, so we gave you a raptor with more raptor, so you can raptor while you raptor!”)
-There’s a pivotal moment late in the third act, something that sets up the next movie, that I just didn’t buy and couldn’t even care to. Spoiler free’s the way to be, though!
To summarize: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t over the top enough to be considered quality camp, and it’s not well-written enough to be considered a solid sequel. The first Jurassic World was easily the best entry that followed the first, but Fallen Kingdom is without a doubt the franchise worst.
With a third movie looming, can someone shoot Sam Neill a quick text and see what he’s got going on? Without a dramatic return from Dr. Grant, I don’t know what we have left to bleed dry here. I want it to go all out, so I’m hoping for Jurassic Galaxy. If there’s not an intergalactic battle between a fighter pilot T-Rex whose dream it is to fly in space, and a sinister mask-or-helmet wearing raptor trying to take over the universe, I’m out. Grade: C-