JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM review

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Click the link for my review of JURASSIC WORLD (2015).

Yeeeah, buddy! I know that I’m likely in the minority of those that are genuinely excited for this movie, but how can I not be? Dinosaurs, man. It brings out the kid in me. Even if their CGI is worse than the originals.

The story looks like it’s about the island’s volcano is about to erupt and Claire is tasked with saving as many of the dinosaurs as she can before it goes off, and she recruits Owen to try and save Blue, the last of the velociraptors, and possibly has her own babies. However, it looks like that Claire was deceived by whoever hired her and is bringing the dinosaurs to an undisclosed location for their own nefarious purposes, resulting in the creation of a new raptor that’s going to be auctioned off to likely some bad men. However, it escapes and it’s up to Owen and Blue to stop it.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Chris Pratt (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018], GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 [2017], PASSENGERS [2016], and upcoming films THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART [2019] and COWBOY NINJA VIKING [2019]), Bryce Dallas Howard (GOLD [2017] and PETE’S DRAGON [2016]), Jeff Goldblum (HOTEL ARTEMIS [2018], THOR: RAGNAROK [2017], INDEPENDENCE DAY 2 [2016], and the upcoming THE MOUNTAIN [2018]), Rafe Spall (THE BFG [2016], THE BIG SHORT [2015], and the upcoming DENMARK [2018]), and Isabella Sermon, who is making her feature film debut. Congrats, young lady. In support, we have Justice Smith (EVERY DAY [2018], PAPER TOWNS [2015], and the upcoming DETECTIVE PIKACHU [2019]), James Cromwell (MARSHALL [2017]), Toby Jones (JOURNEY’S END [2018], ATOMIC BLONDE [2017], MORGAN [2016], HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY 2 [2015], and upcoming films CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2018] and OUT OF BLUE [2018]), Ted Levine (BLEED FOR THIS [2016]), and BD Wong (THE SPACE BETWEEN US [2017]).

Now for the crew. Directing, we have J.A. Bayona, known for A MONSTER CALLS (2016). Co-writing the script is duo Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, both known for KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017), and upcoming films Star Wars Episode IX (2019) and Jurassic World 3 (2021). Composing the score is the ever-amazing Michael Giacchino, known for INCREDIBLES II (2018), SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017), ZOOTOPIA (2016), INSIDE OUT (2015), and the upcoming BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (2018). The cinematographer is Oscar Faura, known for A MONSTER CALLS. Finally, the editor is Bernat Vilaplana, known for A MONSTER CALLS.

I’m pretty sure I’ll like this enough. Hard to be worse than JURASSIC PARK III (2001). But, I can already foresee some problems. For one thing, I doubt Owen getting involved will be anything short of shallow reasons. Whoever these rifle-toting guys are, they were just going to get Blue with a tranq gun anyway. All he’s there for is to lure Blue out and make it easier for the dudes. And the movie does seem like it’s going to go in the direction that LOST WORLD (1997) went, by bringing the dinosaurs to the humans and cause havoc. I just hope it’s not limited to just this new Indoraptor getting loose and causing problems. Oh, and if this movie wanted to make me happy, I don’t want to this new raptor to kill Blue. My heart can’t take that shit. Also, I want the Indoraptor to be infused with human DNA, explaining why it’s going to after the little girl so prominently featured in the trailers. Also, is it too much to hope for a dinosaur-level apocalypse on the world? So will this movie be good? Hard to say. Probably not. But I think I’ll be entertained.

This is my honest opinion of: JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

(SUMMARY)

The dormant volcano at Isla Nublar is about to erupt and is destined to spell extinction for the surviving dinosaurs of now-abandoned amusement park, Jurassic World. As a result, the American government is assembling to debate whether or not it’s right to save the animals, resulting in the decision to allow their destruction. However, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who has been working for an animals rights activist organization for the dinosaurs is invited to a private meeting with Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) at the Lockwood estate, home of John Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). Eli’s intention is to recruit Claire for an under-the-radar mission to evacuate as many of the dinosaurs as possible, but holds a special interest in saving Blue, the last velociraptor. However, in order to safely secure her, Claire needs help from Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), whom have had a mutual falling out.

(REVIEW)

Damn it… I mean, I won’t say that I didn’t get what I want, but it’s the entire set-up that bugs the crap out of me.

Actually, the worst this movie does is the beginning. For one thing, I highly doubt that there would be a debate going on for the preservation of endangered species. Animal rights groups wouldn’t dare let that happen. There’s no question about it in the real world that their preservation is paramount, but somehow, not here. But let’s side step the obvious politics and move on to the obvious logic.

This film, sadly, makes this new franchise really dumb. First of all, this volcano was going to erupt so soon? First of all, thanks to this movie, I’ve now been forced to ask the question, why was an amusement park built around a volcano? Dormant, or otherwise, you just never really know. But more on Jurassic World itself, this movie doesn’t acknowledge that even if everything in the previous film went swimmingly, the Indominus Rex never broke out, and families never had to run for their lives from dive-bombing pteranodons, Jurassic World was only going to enjoy those three years of being open, or however long it’d been open prior to the first film. The point is, it wasn’t going to be open for much longer. And for as many scientists that were on the island, none of them were volcanologists?! I mean, hello?! Dormant volcano! Wouldn’t it be kinda prudent to have a dude on standby constantly keeping watch of that shit?! What about back-up plans in case the eruption takes out the park?! That’s likely hundreds of millions of dollars literally up in smoke. No contingencies whatsoever?! Rich people always have a plan B!

Also, doesn’t it kind of make it pointless to watch the previous film? In fact, not watching the first JW would actually eliminate the stupidity of this movie. If you didn’t watch JW, the last movie involving Isla Nublar would be JURASSIC PARK (1993) and then jump to this movie, and all we know is that the park is that the volcano is about to erupt and destroy the abandoned theme park. Without JURASSIC WORLD, the theme park would have already been abandoned. Sure, some dialog wouldn’t have made a whole lot of sense and there’d sure be references that wouldn’t be understood, but it’s still a better step in a better direction.

But that’s not the end of it. I know this was revealed in the trailer, so I don’t know why I’m complaining about this now, but I guess I was hoping for a better explanation why Claire and Owen didn’t work out. In the first movie, they tried dating, but it didn’t work. In this one, at the beginning of that bar scene (starting with an adorably hysterical laugh from Howard), it’s because… he didn’t let her drive the car, or whatever the case was? And then he left her. Um… that seems… petty. And not entirely easy to follow. So Owen was prideful that he left her? Honestly, at first, when Claire meets up with Owen as he’s building his house, or whatever that was, she almost seemed remorseful, or nervous to talk to him. My immediate thought was they she might have cheated on him, or something. But… nope, it was for lame reasons.

But honestly, much of that could have been forgiven (no it couldn’t) if this movie has just killed off Franklin (Justice Smith). Christ is this kid annoying. This movie isn’t a B-horror film, where it’s mandatory to have a hysterical person afraid of his own shadow. Look, no one has to want to encounter a T-Rex, but for the love of God, can people in movies like this not be so open about it? T-Rexes are among the coolest freakin’ dinosaurs and a staple of the franchise. Be afraid when one shows up, not before. Anyway, this is his character; hysteria. He has no personality other than to look freaked out constantly. And don’t think that I don’t get why he was included into the movie. In Michael Crichton’s The Lost World, there is a character named Arby, who was an eleven year old black kid who was a computer whiz and helped Ian Malcolm and his team on Isla Sorna. Yeah, Franklin is supposed to be Arby. He’s black, he’s young, and he’s a computer expert. The problem is, and it’s certainly been a long-ass time since I read The Lost World, but I don’t remember Arby being this damned annoying. Even if he was, that’s what an adaptation is for: improvement of flaws. While I won’t make the claim that Arby didn’t have his hysterical moments, after all, he was practically toyed with by a pack of raptors, but Franklin needed to get mauled by that baryonyx… or trampled by a brachiosaurus, or drowned in the hamster ball… or eaten by the indoraptor, there were so many opportunities to kill this character off and they never took it. Thankfully, as soon as the movie gets back to civilization, Franklin’s appearance is significantly lessened.

Seriously, why couldn’t Zia (Daniella Pineda) just take over for the role of computer expert? Out of all the side characters, she was the only one who was even marginally interesting. She had a fun, bad-ass attitude, she had a strong sense of right and wrong, stood up to Wheatley (Ted Levine) and his cohorts despite having a dozen rifles pointed at her, and manages to heal Blue by yanking out the bullet in her. What does Franklin do? He opens a door.

He opens… a door.

 

 

But I don’t want to rail against this movie forever, as there are a few things that I did like about it. For one thing, as per usual, both Pratt and Howard are great. Pratt is still charmingly funny, and even though it’s only shown in archival footage, my favorite stuff is when he’s interacting with the baby raptors and any time he interacts with Blue. I always loved how volatile their relationship is and you never truly know if it’s going to result in her biting him or licking him. Seriously, why can’t we get one shot of the two of them snuggling. I know raptors aren’t supposed to be cute, but both movies have gone out of their way to give Blue a personality for audiences to latch on to, so would it kill the writers to get that in there somehow? I legit do not know how much I mean all of this but… damn it, even a fake official photo would make me happy. And Howard gets more than a little bad-ass herself, especially toward the end. I just love how expressive she is that I have to wonder why she isn’t doing more comedy roles. I feel like she’d do great.

The action scenes are pretty cool too. A good old fashioned stampede scene with a volcano eruption was a pretty fun set up. Everything with the Indoraptor was always intense. I don’t know why these recent filmmakers have such a fetish for “psychotic” predators, but it really works. I think the Indominus Rex was a bit more intimidating, as its psychotic behavior was better explored, but the sheer ferocity of Indoraptor made for some incredibly tense scenes.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

 

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Okay, I know that cloning is a big thing in these movies, but… the filmmakers did watch the original films, right? John Hammond created the dinosaurs using frog DNA fill in the missing genes needed to fully make a dinosaur. So someone please, for the love of whatever God or gods you believe in, explain how human cloning is possible! Look, I’m no scientist, I won’t pretend to know how simple or complicated it is to clone a human being, but I will say that Maisie (Isabella Sermon) doesn’t have frog DNA inside her. So… what the hell? Even if the filmmakers came forward and said that my snarky comment makes no sense and that my snap-assumption that frog DNA was used to clone Maisie, the filmmakers would have to double down on that and explain how she was cloned at all then. Hey, if bullshit frog DNA science was the explanation for the dinosaurs themselves, then some bullshit science about cloning another person shouldn’t be that hard. But lo and behold, they couldn’t even bother to vomit up a bullshit explanation anyway, making the detail rather useless in the movie.

 

And now that I’m thinking about it, why are Owen and Claire taking care of Maisie now? I am fairly certain that Iris (Geraldine Chaplin) was never axed off, so why in blazes isn’t she taking care of the girl? After all, she raised her. “Both of them,” as she proclaims. Just… uh… overlooking that one, huh? Just wanted that closing shot of Owen, Claire, and Maisie driving down the coast to be “family-esk,” am I right, filmmakers?

 

On a more positive note, filmmakers, thank you for not killing off Blue. I like Blue. She’s a fun character. Also, holy shit, Geraldine Chaplin is Charlie Chaplin’s daughter! Totally didn’t know that! Mind blown.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, I’d say that the greatest travesty that this film commits is that we didn’t get to see Jimmy Buffett reprise his role as the dude running away with margaritas in his hands. I joke, of course, but yeah, this movie isn’t good. Critics are likely thrashing it and fans are probably leaning more toward hating it than liking it, and I can’t say that I disagree. But… I can’t complain too much. I got what I wanted. A ton of people got eaten, there’s cool action, mostly good acting, fun dynamics, and the movie is definitely going in a direction that makes me want to see where the inevitable sequel will go. So while I admit that this isn’t as good as the previous film, and is probably even weaker than THE LOST WORLD, but I enjoyed myself enough… when Franklin wasn’t on screen. So as a recommendation, it’s Jurassic Park, I can’t imagine there’s too much that I can say to dissuade the loyal fanbase, but I will say… keep your expectations on the lower end, and you might not be in for the worst experience. I shouldn’t say that, it’s not like this movie is horrible, but there is so much dumb in the story that it does disappoint. The park is like my heightened expectations: gone.

My honest rating for JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM: 3/5

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