"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" (2018) - Rated PG-13 / Runtime: 7 hours, 18 minutes
Directed by a half-asleep J.A. Bayona
Written by Colin Trevorrow & Derek Connolly
Starring: Poor Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, a bunch of assholes and pussies, James Cromwell looking confusingly like Richard Attenborough, Ted Levine trying not to be Buffalo Bill, and Jeff Goldblum in an afternoon of work
Review by JJ Mortimer
Jurassic Park 5: Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom is this year's Alien: Covenant. And if you saw my review for THAT film, then you know that is not a compliment.
I held off on a day-after review for this film because I needed the garbage I ingested to digest a little more. I needed to let some of my disappointment and anger stew so as to properly divulge just how lazy an attempt at a proper sequel Fallen Kingdom really is. The shallow script for this film makes the cheap, subpar Jurassic Park III seem enlightened by comparison. Not only is this a bad film and a bad sequel, but it also forgets what makes a movie about dinosaurs running amok really interesting and entertaining. It's not subplots involving uninteresting characters and cloning of human beings. It's not mercenaries stealing dinosaurs to sell on the black market. It's not introducing new stereotypical characters to try to get an audience to sympathize with weaknesses and annoying contrivances based on a film maker's personal socio-political biases. It IS in giving us a proper platform to indulge in epic, summertime popcorn fun. Fallen Kingdom fails on that final note with muted colors.
Jurassic Kingdom World 5: Fallen Park is a flat, dark, contrived mess of a motion picture with some lazy visual effects, an overly-convoluted screenplay, dark locations, confusing connections to prior films, horrifically bad character motivations and decision-making, and the most OVER-FUCKING-USED monster movie cliche in film history - that of a super-monster suddenly treating every floor like slippery ice any time it gets near a hero character.
Except for two or three specific moments or shots, the movie is devoid of any emotion, charm, or creativity in its script or visuals. Fallen Kingdom felt as though the film makers were more concerned with satisfying social, hot-topic minded "check marks" than they were giving the audience an awe-inspired, rousing motion picture. I don't like resorting to the phrase "cash grab," but this movie feels exactly like that. For a movie made in 2018, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom feels cheap and Sci-Fi Channel, TV-Movie-of-the-Week in quality of writing and shitty action set pieces, especially in comparison to its 25-year old derivative which had visual effects that not only hold up well to this day, but still look better than what this film presents.
The characters are extremely one-note, with two particular new "protagonist" characters (and I emphasize the quotations around that word) being so ridiculously cliched and unrelateable that I not only wanted them to get eaten, I felt like they NEEDED to be eaten. Were this film released closer to the 1993 original classic Jurassic Park, these two characters (played by some pansy-ass bitch of a "man" and an unecessarily angry and sarcastic FemiNazi) would have been fodder for raptors before the beginning of the third act. Now, their bland, SJW-inspired character tropes are traits of modern "sympathy" and "heroics." This movie gave no reason why I should give any of my limited fucks about them.
Poor Chris Pratt. How the hell did he get dragged into this mess of a film - a film with overt political undertones (whether from a news station's ticker-tape political rhetoric spewing on a television screen, or within the dialogue of a "black hat"-wearing bad guy) and with nary a sense of building any kind of tension or wonder in the minds of audiences? The man is given very little to do and thankfully so. Too many scenes involve characters being totally fucking dumb and with hardly any purpose for them being in the position they're involved in the first place. The reasons for Chris Pratt's Owen Grady character being re-introduced into the film is completely negated before the end of the first act. What follows is him just being in the film because he was in the latest Avengers, and it made producers some cocaine and prostitute money.
In terms of technical aspects outside the inconsistent CGI, the film is shot in drab monotones, with a lot of color washed out in cinematographer Oscar Faura's often flat visual style. What doesn't help his ability to shoot fulfilling, epic scenery is in director J.A. Bayona's insistence in shooting almost every scene either at night or in dark, underlit locations. And while I usually really like the work of musical composer Michael Giacchino (and his obvious John Williams-inspired motifs), his work here is unmemorable, bland, and tries so desperately hard to get away from the original Williams-composed Jurassic Park theme that this film ends up losing one of the major emotional connections audiences may have had that would have given this film any kind of real soul and heart. I was actually surprised that there were actually some animatronic dinosaurs in a couple scenes as well, especially given how narcoleptic and bland the film seemingly strove to be.
What infuriates me the most is in the wondering of why THIS particular story was told in the Jurassic Park canon. The most wondrous of things that may have drawn any kind of awe and excitement for this film happen literally in the last two minutes of the film (setting up the obvious conclusion to a Jurassic World trilogy, because everything Hollywood does is in threes). But, everything that occurred in the two hours prior could have been told in the FIRST FUCKING ACT. The fact that the film actually ENDS with the meat and potatoes of a potential, literal, Jurassic WORLD, makes me believe they intended on this film being the cheaper middle portion of a three course meal in order to save as much money as they could while knowing audiences would see the film anyway, regardless of quality. This was a vegan salad made by film makers who don't like blood, and then teased us with a menu that had a picture of a steak, but didn't let us eat it, let alone smell it.
Jurassic World Park V - The Phantom Screenplay is less a movie about dinosaurs and closer in narrative to a B-movie monster fest released after Labor Day, but not scary enough to be opened nearer to Halloween. While the original Jurassic Park films (and even the first Jurassic World to some extent) could likewise be seen as nothing more than "monster movies," they still treated their ticket-selling device - dinosaurs (try saying that without hearing Jeff Goldbum's voice) - as actual fucking "dinosaurs." This new film cares very little with the actual prehistoric sciences and movie magic that the prior films attempted (often successfully) to create and instead relies heavily on recycled, uninspiring monster-chasing-protagonist-but-failing plot devices. If your child loves dinosaurs, keep them very, very far away from this film. The major plot points of this film could have been truncated into vignettes that easily could have filled the first third of the film, and the future, more interesting future film they teased us with could easily have been the start of the narrative force of this film.
The film also brings up the cloning of humans which is totally not fitting in the Jurassic-universe, and introduces us to the new dinomonster, the "Indoraptor" - a genetic combination of a raptor and the Indominus-rex from the prior film, which is interesting because the Indominus-rex was already a mutation of the best parts of a raptor and a T-rex, but this creature is the "best parts" of the Indominus and also a raptor, which seems redundant and would be an inferior fraction of the best parts of the best parts of other dinosaurs...I just don't fucking know any more.
I could angrily go on for at least an hour, talking out loud about why this film just didn't work for me. But, what actually made me want to laugh out loud was how Owen Grady shuts the movie's script down with one simple retort early on in the film. When we are introduced to Bryce Dallas-Howard's character, she is working in an organization that is rallying for funds to save the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar (the location of the actual park). The first thought that came to my mind was "Why?" especially considering these fucking monsters have been eating the SHIT out of everyone, and clearly don't belong in our current world regardless of what your bleeding heart tells you. When she then goes to try to encourage Owen to help her rescue these dinosaurs, and entices him by reminding him that his trained raptor "Blue" (from the previous film) is still on the island, she asks something along the nature of, "You're going to let Blue and those other dinosaurs just die out there?" To which he promptly, and smartly, replies, with a shrug, "Yeah." The End. Roll credits ten minutes in.
Jurassic Park V: Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom, First Blood, Part 2 - Attack of the Clones" is infuriatingly bad, like getting what looks like an under-cooked T-bone steak while originally ordering a Pterodactyl burger, only to be told it was just ground-up carrots shaped like a steak, and then being promised that the REAL main course is coming your way the next time you visit. Now here's your bill and get the fuck out of the restaurant.
*Only recommended if you get entertainment from the auteur works of Michael Bay, and thought "Species 2" was a highlight in the career superstardom of Natasha Henstridge