Now on Blu-ray: The Wildly Absurdity of ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Blu-ray

Sometimes it can feel hapless being a film critic. Don’t get me wrong, nobody is getting into this racket for a high-paying glamorous lifestyle, nor does any self-respecting critic think that critics can significantly sway the box office. The idea is truly simple: Be honest about a movie based upon what it aims to do. It doesn’t matter if the film is an indie made with equipment from Goodwill or a mega-franchise blockbuster with a tie-in included in 12 out of 24 frames. Sometimes there are just those movies that are so odious and yet attain a surprising level of success at the box office and you just stand there feeling like the one sane man in a mad world. (Look, I understand, we all feel that way all too often; I’m only talkin’ movies.)

That’s how I felt about Jurassic World, director Colin Trevorrow’s reboot-sequel to Steven Spielberg’s classic blockbuster. It traded in the combination of wonder and terror that made Jurassic Park a classic and traded it in for cheap cynicism. Jurassic World is so damn bland that it can’t even muster earnest, high-grade cynicism. Whatever I thought was irrelevant. It broke box office records, so there would have to be a sequel – it’s Hollywood 2018, after all. Was there ever any doubt there’d be a sequel?

Trevorrow ceded directing duties to A Monster Calls director J.A. Bayona for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but stuck around with his Jurassic World co-writter Derek Connolly to pen the script for the sequel. I can’t say that I ever had high hopes for the movie. When I finally got around to watching Fallen Kingdom (I missed it in theaters), I was surprised just by how entertained I was in a mystifying way. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is much dumber than its predecessor and yet I found myself like the increasingly inane sequel more. As Bayona give the franchise a nice upgrade in direction, the script by Trevorrow and Connolly might be the dumbest piece of writing backed by 200 million dollars – and I’m including the Transformers films.

This time around, the theme park Jurassic World is shuttered. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), despite overseeing the theme park that broke down and killed countless people, isn’t in jail and has dedicated her life to activism on behalf of the dinosaurs. Isla Nublar, the home of Jurassic World, was built upon a volcano and now the volcano is about to erupt, threatening to wipe out all of the remaining dinosaurs. At a congressional committee, Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum in a glorified cameo) makes the case that the best course of action is no course of action, that the volcano should erupt and erase the remaining dinosaurs from the Earth for the survival of the human race. He’s right, of course, but if that occurred there wouldn’t be much of a movie. So Claire is approached by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), the assistant of the wealthy and secret partner of John Hammond, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who promises to use his immense wealth to rescue the dinosaurs and send them to an isolated island sanctuary. They simply need Claire’s access to the tracking systems from Jurassic World and the help of the rugged raptor wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to track down the intelligent raptor Blue. What could possibly go wrong?

At first Owen shows reluctance to return to Isla Nublar but eventually relents when he watches some video of baby Blue on his laptop. Owen and Claire are joined by Franklin (Justice Smith), a nerdy tech expert, and Zia (Daniella Pineda), a veterinarian with extensive knowledge of dinosaur anatomy. Meanwhile, the more dangerous aspects of the mission are overseen by Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), a mercenary of sorts.

To the surprise of only the characters in the movie, it turns out this mission wasn’t a noble quest to preserve the once-extinct species but part of a nefarious plan to turn the remaining dinosaurs into weapons to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Amazingly, this idiotic plan that was already explored (poorly) in the last film isn’t even the most asinine scheme in Fallen Kingdom. Eli Mills plans with Dr. Wu (B.D. Wong) and Mr. Eversoll (Toby Jones) to develop a new genetically modified dinosaur, blending the DNA of the Indominus Rex with that of a raptor. You might be thinking to yourself, “Didn’t the creation of the Indominus Rex backfire and destroy Jurassic World?” Yes, it did and the characters creating this new super-deadly breed of raptor even mention this before moving ahead with their moronic plan that most certainly won’t backfire. You can guess what happens next.

As much as Bayona elevates the direction of the Jurassic World franchise, whatever improvements the director made to the film’s visual style is usually counteracted by the lackluster script. Whenever the action gets going in Fallen Kingdom, there is either some insane action by the characters or the need to hit the audience with a late twist, such as the case with the young character Maisie (Isabella Sermon). It’s frustrating because it’s hard to wrapped up in the ludicrous action sequences but at the same time the film’s greatest source of entertainment value comes from its more ludicrous aspects.

But there’s one thing about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that just baffles me endlessly and that’s the Trevorrow and Connolly’s desire to create a dinosaur character that audiences are supposed to connect to. This film really goes out of its way to establish Blue the raptor as some kind of hero dinosaur, which really undercuts much of the tension that Jurassic Park films was able to mine from the deadly dinos. One particularly hilarious scene has Blue noticing a room filling with explosive gas and suddenly making a leap out of the room as it explodes behind it. Even though Owen is driven by his connection to Blue, the film spends a lot of time trying to make us connect with a CGI creation that is limited in its ability to emote and incapable of speaking, so it saddles itself with an impossible task that extremely backfire.

I will say this, the ending of Fallen Kingdom does hint a brave new world in the Jurassic Park series, one that could’ve been, you know, explored further in this sequel instead of putting it off for part three. The fact it even ends up the way it does means that the entire mission of its characters throughout the film was irresponsible and they failed miserably. Once again, anytime Jeff Goldblum is giving serious speeches the people need to listen.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is step up from its predecessor but kind of a wobbly drunken step in the right direction, always teetering on the brink of falling backwards. I was entertained by its rampant absurdity as I was turned off by its double dose of cynicism. It’s rather simple, though: If you enjoyed Jurassic World, you’re likely to enjoy Fallen Kingdom. If you hated Jurassic World, you’re likely to enjoy Fallen Kingdom as a so-bad-it’s-good type movie. It really does feel that each successive Jurassic Park movie further drives home the fact that Spielberg’s original was a majestic work of blockbuster filmmaking. Like so many great movies with fantastic spectacle, those who follow often missed the point of what made it so great.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Overall Score
2.5

Summary

A wildly absurd follow up to Jurassic World, director J.A. Bayona brings a bit more visual flair to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom but the film is underserved by a ludicrous script that undermines so much of the action.

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