Months ago looking at the extensive line-up of summer blockbusters, there was one movie to wrap up the season that I was undeniably stoked and nervous for. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise was set to release in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park. While the trailer looked awful, I held out hope for one of my favorite series of all time and set out on opening night to get my dino fix for 2018. I guess I should have just stayed home.
Jurassic World has been abandoned since the predictable downfall of the new park in 2015. While Jurassic World would have only been a few years old, a volatile volcano that the park was apparently built on threatens to wipe out what remains of the facilities and dinosaurs. The previously heartless business woman Claire now heads up an organization to save the creatures that once tried to brutally kill her, her nephews and her boyfriend. After receiving an offer to help her prehistoric pals, she gets a team of millennials and everyone’s favorite raptor daddy Owen together to rescue Blue, the fan favorite dinosaur. Little does she know, to save the creatures she now apparently adores, she may have made a deal with the devil.
Before getting into this review, I need to preface you with what the Jurassic Park series is to me. I’ve been watching these movies my entire life. I grew up hearing that iconic T-Rex roar and saying “dinosaur” in the same goofy way the animated DNA strand in the first movie does. I’ve always gone to bat for the second and third movies and even Jurassic World. I mean, there’s Spielberg-designed dinosaurs on the screen. Can’t we ignore a few plot holes for that? I went into Fallen Kingdom with low expectations but still knew in my heart I’d enjoy the film for the sheer fact that Chris Pratt and dinosaurs would occupy my life for two hours. So just know that as I write about just how awful this movie is, it actually pains me. I’m not even comically angry like I was with Pacific Rim Uprising. I feel nothing but sheer disappointment as a life-long Jurassic fan.
The main issue with this movie all comes down to the writing. Anyone who has watched this entire series knows that after the first movie, the quality of writing steadily declines. Yet, the movies are still insanely fun and enjoyable despite some weak storylines and dialogue. Fallen Kingdom takes that next step in ridiculous writing but neglects any of the redeemable qualities found in previous Jurassic films that could have saved this movie from its soulless fate.
The premise of Fallen Kingdom is simply boring. It fully displays the fundamental theme of human error that is present in the entire series but to an obnoxious level. I don’t want to watch an entire movie about humans escaping humans. I watch the Jurassic series to see dinosaurs and the unknown relationship they’ll have with humans. The plot itself was weak. There’s a clear outline to follow but there’s so much hollow fluff that its easy not to care about what’s happening on screen. That’s without even considering how many plot holes there are in Fallen Kingdom. Heck, there’s plot holes that now span across the entire series. Hammond had a partner? They built Jurassic World on an active volcano? Dinosaurs can now cry actual tears? It felt like the writers were trying to outdo the last movie in terms of humans creating problems in nature so forcefully that the story itself is hokey at best.
Sure the plot was bad but all these movies need are dinosaurs and great characters. With that mentality, Fallen Kingdom should still be a good time, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the characters in this movie were all either boring or painful to watch. Claire and Owen both seemed to be totally different characters than they originally were making any hope of familiarity with the enjoyable Jurassic World nonexistent. In a desperate attempt to connect to youthful audiences, they added two insanely annoying millennial characters proving yet again that Hollywood is just selling a formula despite being out of touch with the generation they’re pandering to. Finally, to make this a true Jurassic Park film, there’s an insufferable child who is so infuriating and annoying to watch that walking out of the theater doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
Other than the gigantic predators from millions of years ago, the Jurassic franchise is held together by characters that audiences can’t help but care for. Everyone wants to see the rigid Dr. Grant step into a fatherly role with Hammond’s niece and nephew. All Jurassic fans get excited to hear Dr. Malcolm’s chaos theory for the billionth time. The Jurassic series has been home to some of the strongest female characters to grace the big screen. I mean Chris Pratt is the star of the Jurassic World series for Pete’s sake. With a rich history of simple, witty characters, the Jurassic franchise sold out to follow the recipe they think sells the best rather than balance the formula with actually interesting characteristics, traits, and backstories.
The majority of these writing flaws come down to one major issue for me. Every other Jurassic Park movie builds intensity with sheer simplicity. Dinosaurs are scary enough. Audiences don’t need a psychotic new breed of dinosaur to be engaged in the movie. Dinosaurs don’t have to be practically human for us to care for them. Jurassic World did such a great job of introducing a new species that was disturbingly smart but still seemed like a dinosaur. It also did an incredible job at balancing the relationship the raptors had with Owen to show that as empathetic as they are, they’re still deadly. Any ounce of realistic behavior that was in Jurassic World was lost in Fallen Kingdom. The extremes in which they tried to amplify the intensity of the new dino only made it seem more boring. This series is complex enough with layers of ethical debate woven into the very premise. Yet by forcing this complexity, the spirit of its predecessors is lost and therefore resulted in a lackluster, lifeless product.
As I mentioned before, I really hated the characters in this movie. I wasn’t crazy about the new ones and I can’t buy how drastically the old characters changed. That being said, I still think the actors did well with the task at hand. I really had no issues with the actors and am glad they all got the chance to star in a Jurassic Park movie, I just feel bad it had to be this one. I mean honestly, I can’t really be mad at the incredible talent in this movie. I especially can’t be upset with a corny Jeff Goldblum monologue, even if I wish it featured some character-fitting chaos theory rather than just environmental pandering.
Now I do have one good thing to say about the film. The CGI is incredible, as expected. The dinosaurs look spectacular and the special effects are top notch. While there were some scenes that I think looked cheesy, those moments were due to the concept of the shot, not the effects themselves. There were also a couple of dinosaurs that looked a bit too cartoonish and therefore stood out but for the most part, the dinos were still ridiculously fun to look at.
Overall, I did not like this movie. Shocking, I know. I miss the excitement that came with seeing people or dinosaurs react to new environments, the charming or comical characters, and the time when dinosaurs were good enough just being dinosaurs. I’m sure when I rewatch this movie in a year’s time I won’t be as butt-hurt over it but for now, I’m going to rewatch the first four and try to forget this movie entirely.
What did you think of Jurassic World? Did you like this new dinosaur or think it was just slightly out of your range fictional belief? Did you like how the two main characters changed in this movie? What do you think of the secret co-creator of Jurassic Park? As always I’d love to check out any recommendations you may have for me. See you soon!