Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Warning: This review contains several major spoilers for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” If you intend on seeing the film and don’t want to be spoiled, do not read on.

   Where to begin? This weekend saw the release of the newest installment in the “Jurassic Park” series, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” While the previous film was a badly scripted mess that tried to follow the beats of the original “Jurassic Park,” this one throws that on its head and destroys the status quo, with about the same level of poor scripting.

   Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles from the previous film as Claire Dearing and Owen Grady. Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm and Rafe Spall plays the ambitious Eli Mills, a man who sends Claire and Owen to save the dinosaurs. Ted Levine portrays Ken Wheatley, a mercenary in charge of the dino rescue who takes their teeth as trophies.

   James Cromwell plays Sir Benjamin Lockwood, the partner of John Hammond, who helped create the original Jurassic Park. Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda round out the cast as Franklin, an IT man, and Zia, a paleo-veterinarian involved in the dino saving program that also go on the mission. These two are the most annoying characters in the film.

   The cast does a decent job with what they were given, but there are really no standout performances in this one. But at least we don’t have to follow two annoying children through the whole movie.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 11.47.42 AM   Overall, the movie is decent, and while it does some things extremely well, let’s start off with the problems this film has.

   I have a lot of problems with this movie. The first and maybe most important is the fact that the premise of this movie is illogical and convoluted. Claire should either be in jail or on the run due to her complete responsibility in all the deaths and injuries caused by the Indominus Rex escaping in the previous film. It was her fault.

   She originally saw the dinos as nothing more than attractions that would make her money and all of sudden does a 180 and becomes a advocate for their rights, and basically creates PETA for dinosaurs.

   Everyone in that group cares more for genetically engineered cloned dinosaurs that have killed several people than their fellow man. They’re not even real dinosaurs and nature is doing its job in ending them, but these people want the government to send people to risk their lives to save vicious creatures that would kill them at first sight (and even some of the herbivores would likely trample or crush someone out of fear).

   Add to that the risk of being killed by the eruption if they aren’t fast enough and we can see why it wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavor.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 11.45.29 AM   Why would anyone side with these people and with the dinosaurs? Even Owen, who raised Blue and several other raptors, makes the stupid mistake of going back to the island to save her. This is the same raptor who betrayed him as soon as there was a bigger, badder predator to latch on to in the previous movie (the Indominus Rex). Plus she left him at the end of this movie to chomp on some people in suburbia!

   And then there’s the evil plan of Eli Mills. A secret dino laboratory and prison hidden in the basement of same rich dude’s mansion. How did all the scientists coming and going and construction of the lair go unnoticed by Lockhart or anyone in the surrounding area? Did Mills really think concrete walls and metal bars would hold dinosaurs?

   Also, how many times does Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) have to make deals with shady people to create new, dangerous, uncontrollable dinosaurs and get screwed over to learn his lesson? Don’t mess around with nature, it never ends well for anyone.

   Lockhart is guilty of making dumb decisions too, as why would he confront Mills after learning of his plan without calling the police first? Or have Maisie call the cops? And cloning his daughter? I don’t care how distraught you are, that’s a line you can’t cross.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 11.47.00 AM   Everyone in this movie, from the idiots who went to the island to save creatures that would rather kill them and the evil basement dwelling villains deserved to die due to their dumb decisions and ideas.

   Then there was Maisie’s final decision in the end to release all of the dinosaurs from the evil basement lab. All because she’s also a clone and thinks she has the capability to make ethical decisions at the ripe age of around eight years old. These dinos are now roaming the world.

   The big sea monster dinosaur is gonna snack of hundreds and hundreds of innocent surfers, and the responsibility for it all falls on Owen, Claire and Maisie. These guys should be in jail, and we’re expected to be happy and cheer that decision (as the musical score turns triumphant as the dinos leave the bunker).

   The only character with any sense was Dr. Malcolm, as he realized the danger these clones represented and the future implications of genetic modification in the wrong hands (it’s been used by the wrong hands in every one of these movies). And he was only in the film for five minutes!

   I am curious on how this situation will be resolved in the third film, with dinosaurs roaming the Earth with humans, but the plot and writing just left something to be desired from me.

   However, there is still quite a bit to love in this film. This movie is very aesthetically pleasing to the eye and nice to look at. The dinos are awesome to look at, and the landscapes, especially Isla Nublar look gorgeous.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 11.48.50 AM   It is also directed very well, with some nice camera angles being used by J. A. Bayona. He directs the parts with the gang running from the Indo-Raptor like a horror movie and it is effective.

   I really enjoyed the first act, especially the parts on the island. It was breathtaking to watch the destruction of the island and the stampede of the dinosaurs running towards the cliffs.

   The opening scene was also fantastic, and gave me the same feelings of fear and suspense that I felt in the original movies. Everything, from the lightning showing a brief glimpse of the T-Rex behind the gate-closer, to his eventual demise worked.

   Another thing this movie did well was any scenes with tension. I don’t know why, but in “Jurassic World,” I didn’t really have a feeling of dread or investment when the characters were being chased or hunted by the dinosaurs. Yet, in this one, I was in to it every time and suspense and tension were built up perfectly.

   The Indo-Raptor chases were awesome, and featured some nice callbacks to previous films in the series (like the dumbwaiter and the raptor unlocking the door). Another highlight was when Claire and Franklin had to escape from a Baryonyx.

   As a side note, the scene when they are leaving the island and watching the Brachiosaurus die was extremely sad. But it was effective and it might be the defining moment from the movie.

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 11.49.14 AM   Finally, it is still cathartic to watch the dinos eat the bad guys. All of the death scenes were drawn out and shot well, and each of the villains (the hunter, mills, and the auctioneer played by Toby Jones) had enough depth and did enough to earn their fates that I enjoyed watching their demise. No more innocent assistants getting tortured and finally eaten by three different dinos.

   All in all, I enjoyed this movie much more than “Jurassic World.” Claire’s character had equal time with Owen, and she was much more active and didn’t make nearly as many stupid decisions as she did in the prior film.

   All the dino-kills were much more satisfying and this film didn’t drag on as much. It was also directed much better and used horror techniques to build much more suspense and tension.

   It’s nowhere near a perfect movie, but if you love the series, you’ll find something to like here if you don’t think about the major problems with the plot.

Rating: 3 Pterodactyls circling Las Vegas out of 5

   What did you think? Feel free to send your voice in through the Clarion social media or email us at clarion.central@gmail.com with your thoughts on “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” or the franchise in general. We’ll use them in a future article.

Henry Wolski
Executive Editor

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