“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” highlights a very important lesson that we should all be mindful of (esp. any studio execs that may be reading): Just because your movie has dinosaurs in it, does not mean that it is a “Jurassic Park” movie.
I was born in 1993. It was a great year for movies. I was brought up on “Jurassic Park”. I loved the film as a child. I loved the film as a gangly teen. I love the film now, as an adult and lifelong movie lover. “Jurassic Park” remains one of the greatest titles in all of Cinema because it gave us the very best of what movies can offer. It’s a goddamn monument. And the books are pretty great too.
“Jurassic World” (the first one, I want that to be absolutely clear), was a suitable installation in the franchise. I liked seeing the fully-realized vision of the park. It introduced us to new heroes. It gave us a little bit of new, along with all the things we love in the franchise. I wasn’t mad at it. Hell, I can even say that I liked it.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” misses the point. It is not a “Jurassic Park” movie.
The beauty of the “Jurassic” franchise films, up to this point, is that there’s consistency. The “Jurassic” films balance the horror of a monster movie with an awe and appreciation that perfectly mirrors the way the audience is supposed to feel. I don’t care how many times we see it, dinosaurs are fucking cool.
The sweeping score. The panoramic shots. “Jurassic” movies don’t get caught up in the thrill, alone, they set out to make great movies. It’s the closest thing we have to the epics of old. These movies have a way of shaking you like the T-Rex shakes the earth.
What the hell happened?
Let’s call it for what it is. “Jurassic Park 5: Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom” is a cheap bastardization of the franchise and I’m filled with righteous anger. Let’s dig deeper.
The Pratt Problem
FIRST OF ALL, did no one think to wake Chris Pratt up?!
I just want to wag a finger in his beautiful face. Bad Chris! His performance was, perhaps, the greatest disappointment of all. I’m all on board the Pratt Wagon. I think he has old Hollywood charisma in a precious, hilarious package. Chris Pratt has breathed life into some of my favorite characters and he is always a joy to watch. Not this time.
I’ll be the first to say that Owen Grady is not the most interestingly written character. Broody and capable sex appeal is all fine and dandy but can be boring. Pratt added a little spark in the first “Jurassic World”, but it was totally absent here.
Pratt was either phoning it in or asleep, which dropped the character to the performative equivalent of a Saltine cracker. So disappointing. I was utterly unstimulated, minus one fleeting moment where I was so bored with the movie that I imagined what it would be like to rest my head on Pratt’s chest too. Even then, I was still mad at him.
Poor Pacing and the Extinction of Good Filmmaking
A fatal flaw in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is that the movie seems unsure of what it wants to be.
WARNING: MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
I see two movies that got kinda smushed together and, therefore, each lost a little bit of their substance. This movie should have either been about preventing the extinction event/saving Blue or the movie should have been about a busting an underground dino smuggling operation. It should not have been about both.
The result is a host of pacing problems and hollow acts that don’t seem to mean anything.
Blinded Me With Bad Science
Next on the complaint roster is (don’t laugh)… how unrealistic “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is.
Before you scroll down to the comments, let me clarify that I do understand that dinosaurs are still extinct and that the entire franchise is an exercise in the fantastical. Let me finish.
In Michael Criton’s novel and in the first “Jurassic Park”, folks had done their homework. The science behind the dinosaurs was presented in a way that made sense. It used a legitimate process of logic that made the entire business seem like it could be plausible. Small, off-the-cuff comments showed that individual characters were thinking in a way that was believable. Presenting solutions to certain problems. You could buy it.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” was chock-full of bad science.
- The reasonable expectations of biology were stretched grotesquely. (Explain to me how the entire Indominus Rex skeleton was still together and unharmed after being consumed by the Mosasaurus!!!)
- Screw volcanology. (You don’t go from a dormant volcano to “seconds from blowing” in a matter of months, Movie!!!)
- In a world where blood transfusions rely on compatible blood types, how do you expect me to believe that a transfusion between two totally different species is gonna work?
I could go on, but you see my point. I can suspend my disbelief for some dino action, I really can. But “Fallen Kingdom” didn’t even make an effort.
The Indoraptor is Stupid
God DAMN is this thing stupid.
The great irony is that these movies that are driven by the arrogance of man’s creation and the idea of getting bored with something as amazing as dinosaurs, get off on testing the limits of what new creature they can create because they think the audience is bored of dinosaurs. Y’ALL!
The Indoraptor is gaudy in design and unimpressive in execution. It’s the Mary Sue/Gary Stu of the “Jurassic” world. One of my big complaints about “Fallen Kingdom” is that the dinosaurs fail to behave like actual animals (something the earlier films got right) and the Indoraptor is the worst offender.
The Cloning Thing is Even More Stupid/Forced Intimacy is Uncool
Next on the list of “Shit That Went Wrong” is all of this forced intimacy bullshit.
I will give this movie ONE SOLITARY FLUTTER OF PRAISE in that it warmed my heart to see the amber topped cane and the nod to John Hammond. Cromwell gave a fine performance as Hammond’s partner, Benjamin Lockwood.
Okay, I said one nice thing.
Is it an unspoken term in all “Jurassic” film contracts that there must be a precocious child? What was the deal with Maisie Lockwood?! It was a story thread that led to nowhere and was a huge distraction from much more interesting, dinosaury things.
The human clone element was rushed and pointless and didn’t have a very satisfying payoff. I was content to blow it off as something completely and utterly stupid until my partner hypothesized that Jurassic World 3 would be about the first human/dinosaur hybrid.
I swear to the old gods and new…
Don’t you do it, Hollywood.
Chris Pratt’s Owen finds his Saltine cracker mate with Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire. If you thought the romance was a bit forced in “Jurassic World”, you would not believe how awkward it was in “Fallen Kingdom”. I felt like the screenwriters were holding up their dolls and saying “Now kiss!”
I’ll reiterate, I’m as on board with using Pratt’s pec as a pillow as the next person but two sexy humans does not a romance make. It was uncomfortable and unnecessary. Stop it, “Jurassic World” screenwriters.
Are Dinosaurs Eating People Still a Bad Thing?
The tone in “Fallen Kingdom” is all kinds of fucked up. It fluctuates from sadness to comedy to strong environmental messages to panic… and not in a good, compelling way. It comes off as confused.
WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead!
“Fallen Kingdom” ends on a triumphant note as the newly freed dinosaurs, escape into the world. The final shot of the film bathes Blue the Velociraptor with a Heart of Gold in warm light, as she surveys a bustling suburb below. It’s a tender moment.
It should have been fucking terrifying.
Uh. We have four previous movies that show how one dinosaur can cause serious death and destruction. We also have four previous movies (and the vast majority of this fifth one) that paint dinosaurs as killing machines to be feared. Even those that understand and care for them are scared.
WHY ARE WE ACTING LIKE DINOSAURS BEING LET LOOSE IS A GOOD THING?!
From a filmmaking standpoint, “Fallen Kingdom” just didn’t feel right. I’ve heard others complain that the “Jurassic” films don’t live up to the horror movie potential that some visualize for them; see my prior comments on what makes the films great. “Jurassic Park” and its descendants are not intended to be horror films. They almost occupy a genre all their own. I do not understand the choices made in “Fallen Kingdom” and I do not like them. It made “Fallen Kingdom” the ugliest and least graceful of the entire franchise.
Selling The Soul of “Jurassic Park”
I have no idea where this franchise thinks that it is going to go and I shudder to think of what they will come up with.
I mentioned earlier the great irony of the creators of this franchise being guilty of the very ideas that the “Jurassic” films so openly criticize. Blind profit. Only think of what they can do and not what they should do. Going for flash and trash instead of appreciating the good bones that are already there. It’s almost poetic.
“Jurassic Park” has fallen, in a wave of piss-poor CGI magma and a monument to the studio’s arrogance rises in its place. I hope a T-Rex eats those responsible. Straight off a toilet seat.
To quote the final lines of the woefully under-utilized Jeff Goldblum’s closing monologue, “Welcome to Jurassic World”.
No, thank you.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is directed by J.A. Bayona and stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. In theaters now!
Featured image credit: Universal
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.