JURASSIC WORLD – FALLEN KINGDOM [Film Review]: Man-Made Monsters.

Chris “Holy Spirit” Sawin

Similar to how Star Wars: The Force Awakens was too nostalgic for its own good rather than providing a viable reason to return to these beloved characters and this world that is executed as nothing more than a gargantuan cash cow, Jurassic World was shackled to being more homage to the previous films instead of feeling like a fresh adventure more than two decades later. It’s not that the film didn’t have its moments, but there was obvious room for improvement and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom seems to be the first Jurassic Park sequel since The Lost World to actually take the film in a new direction (although the throwbacks to previous films is more apparent than ever).

The fifth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise is horribly written and the human characters do the dumbest shit imaginable. Co-written by Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connelly (Jurassic World, Kong: Skull Island), Fallen Kingdom picks up three years after the events of Jurassic World. Dinosaurs still inhabit Isla Nublar, but the impending eruption of an active volcano is on the verge of wiping out these de-extinct creatures. Congress rules against saving them, so people with ludicrous amounts of money lying around step in and make it seem as if they’re going to bring the dinosaurs into this incredible habitat where they can live in peace.

But the film is driven by greed and how that sinister desire is never satisfied. The dinosaurs are auctioned off as rich tycoons purchase them for their own selfish desires. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) just wants to be involved with the dinosaurs finding a location where they won’t be melted into fossil fuel while Owen (Chris Pratt) basically just wants to build houses, drink, and play pool all day; or be involved in the rescue of Blue – it’s neck and neck.

Chris Pratt is making it a point to portray characters you’re going to hate for the foreseeable future. If Star-Lord’s actions in Avengers: Infinity War were infuriating for you then Owen’s will likely raise your blood pressure to volcanic levels. Owen’s ideas are terrible especially when he decides to run around the gyrosphere for no other reason than hoping he looks cool when Claire looks back to see him running with the dinosaurs as the volcano erupts. Owen makes it seem like charging in and taking on everything head-on without stealth or a carefully thought out plan is a bad thing, but typically does that anyway or has a plan that’s so half-baked it ends up working based on sheer luck; look no further than the sleeping T-Rex blood taking sequence or the entirety of  the Stygimoloch’s screen time (busting Claire and Owen out of rich, dinosaur jail and taking the elevator to the dinosaur auction where he spends the next five minutes chucking glorified mall cops and wealthy benefactors across the room with his hard head).

Come on, it’s not hard. Just…pull my finger…

The way the first half of the film is written is imbecilic. It seems like nobody takes this whole “dino sanctuary” concept seriously except for Claire and James Cromwell’s Sir Benjamin Lockwood, whose estate is being used for illegal dinosaur trafficking (some of those rich guys probably wanted to do that, right?) right under his nose and he doesn’t even realize it because he’s too busy looking at a photo album and barely clinging onto life while he breathes through a string of tubes on a daily basis. Nobody can even say, “Sanctuary,” with a straight face in this film because it’s so absurd.

It may seem kind of weird, but Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen quality to it. Most of that blame can rest on the shoulders of Justice Smith who is force-fed comic relief as the technical wizard Franklin Webb. Franklin is scared of dinosaurs and pretty much everything else that surrounds them. He is completely annoying, but the film tries so hard to make his fears and phobias seem like the hold-onto-your-butt of a dozen jokes that only make you groan. He’s almost as bad as Rafe Spall and Toby Jones; two English actors who tarnish their English reputations by doing uncomfortable American accents. Both Spall and Jones look like it’s causing absolute anguish to be as American as possible in this. Both of them move their mouths unnaturally to an unreasonable extent; like they’re talking around their top set of teeth or something. The only thing more ridiculous is Toby Jones’ hairpiece, which even Donald Trump would be pointing and laughing at.

Spa treatments are so extreme these days.

With all of its stupidity, there’s still a ton of fun to be had with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls) has basically turned Jurassic World into a giant monster movie. The way the dinosaurs lurk in the shadows where flashing light like lava dripping from the ceiling or lightning striking during a thunderstorm provide brief glimpses of the terror around the corner. The scene where the Indoraptor sneaks into Daisie Lockwood’s  (Isabella Sermon) room is ridiculously written, but is executed like a Universal monster film. With the introduction of the scientifically created Indoraptor, the film already has a Frankenstein element to it anyway.

Colin Trevorrow has described the film as, “The Impossible meets The Orphanage with dinosaurs,” but that doesn’t seem to be the end result. The auction sequence feels like a concept that expands upon what was originally introduced in King Kong; a monster not typically seen by human eyes and financially benefiting from it. Fallen Kingdom has more animatronics and more puppeteering than any of the previous Jurassic Park films and that shows with how many close-ups and close encounters there are in the film. While Owen will likely get on your last nerve, his relationship with Blue has evolved into a necessity for this franchise. The bond they have is incredible and the scenes where we see Blue as a baby and Owen raising her are sentimentally powerful. The film masterfully milks the emotional aspect of a blockbuster film as you feel for these creatures more than any other Jurassic Park film except for maybe the original. Tears will likely be shed just thinking about that brachiosaurus being swallowed by volcanic fumes as the main characters drift away in the last rescue boat.

I just got my eyebrows done. Can you tell?

With the classic horror vibe of the film in mind, it’s interesting to see how much violence was left on-screen. You see the dinosaurs not only bite one another, but they bite human flesh and rip off limbs. All of that is shown on-screen in a PG-13 movie, which seems like kind of a big deal. It was great to see Ted Levine return to his asshole roots even if he is just imitating Bob Peck’s Muldoon character from the first film. You love to hate the characters Levine portrays though and he’s got the dick-o-meter turned up to its maximum volume this time around.

The film ends in a way that gets the dinosaurs off the island and leaves something open for a sequel that finally explores new ground. Personally speaking, you want to see somebody ride a dinosaur or see the franchise go in a Rise of the Planet of the Apes kind of direction. Making them talk would probably be a mistake, but the mentality that something that came back from extinction now has bigger numbers than mankind and the type of war that could break out because of it sounds exciting. Seeing Owen riding Blue away from cages and Indoraptors that steal your thunder doesn’t seem like too crazy of an idea, does it? Just give me that or a genetically created monster-dino without, “Indo,” in its name and we’ll call it square.

Never challenge a T-Rex to an arm wrestling contest.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is fucking dumb as hell. Its writing is mediocre at best, the humans are stupid beyond belief, and the entire film is based around a ludicrous concept. The one flaw in that is that the action sequences are pretty great the majority of the time and the creature feature feel of every dinosaur attack is fucking incredible. If you take the horror atmosphere into account and think about the formula for your basic horror movie, stupid people make for better victims. You’re actually rooting for their death and those kills are a bit more satisfying because of it. Fallen Kingdom isn’t a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s the most fun this franchise has been since 1993. 3.5/5 Brachiosaurus Mourning Bibles

-Chris Sawin

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