Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom: You Can Clone Dinosaurs But Not A Good Movie

For the sake of transparency, I’ll start this off by admitting that I really, really didn’t like the first Jurassic World. It ranks up there with Prometheus and Gigli as one of the worst movies I’ve seen. But, because I needed a break from politics and because I am a grown man who can’t get enough pteranodons in his life, I went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The trailers looked goofy, but there seemed to be a darker tone to this newest addition to the gargantuan franchise (and far less annoying kids and mopey teenagers), so I went in with an open mind(seriously) and an open container of tequila (seriamente). What I experienced was nothing short of a crime, a ruthless cash grab designed to empty your wallets and leave you with a pounding headache and no sense of what had just happened to you, like a mugger who punches you a few times in the head from behind.


The movie starts off promising as hell, and for a moment I actually thought I hadn’t committed an egregious act of self-harm by sitting down to watch Colin Trevorrow’s latest poorly-written script come to life. It opens on two guys in a submersiblestalked by the titanic mosasaur, widely regarded as the only good thing about Jurassic World 1. The scene is dark, tense, and the shots of the prehistoric leviathan silhouetted by lightning are beautiful and ominous. This underwater game of cat and mouse is juxtaposed with a tech guy of sorts in a yellow slicker attempting some kind of panicked electrical fix alone on the surface of Dino Island, the rain mercilessly pouring down on him in a sequence reminiscent of Nedry struggling to free his jeep in the original before getting black loogies hawked all over his face. They even include a little movement in the nearby bushes and the chirping of the dilophosaurus to hammer homethe call-back. Nostalgically cheap as that may sound (more on that later), it works here, and it all feels tense, scary, and finally, seems like a good ol’ Spielbergian Jurassic Park movie.


But the feeling is fleeting, lasting only a few short moments before Dr. Malcom’s voice creeps into your brain as a poorly rendered CGI T-Rex comes crashing onto the scene like a runaway pixelated bus. There’s a sloppy, over-the-top, B-movie helicopter escape fakeout and the movie instantly dives into a relentless, epileptically edited chaotic mess of a monster jamboree whose soundtrack could’ve just been John Williams conducting the Benny Hill theme over and over again without losing a single iota of emotional impact. It goes off the rails FAST and not once does it get even remotely close to righting itself.


So what’s good about it? Well the first few minutes of that opening sequence for one, and Daniella Pineda’s turn as a tough, witty “paleoveterinarian” is actually pretty fun. Also we can thank Fallen Kingdom for the fact that known-hack Colin Trevorrow will never be trusted to write a script ever again so there’s that.


But ultimately the film is just filled with nonsense, and not the fun kind. When dealing with the already ridiculous concept of “we brought back dinosaurs through cloning”, your main focus should be maintaining a suspension of disbelief in the audienceby playing it straight-faced and grounded. It’s a basic sci-fi rule of thumb that Trevorrow and Universal seem to want no part of. There’s an emergency blood transfusion between a T-Rex and a velociraptor at one point (they’re compatible because of the number of claws they have?), a massive gun-for-hire army operation to smuggle giant monsters off an exploding island to northern California that apparently NO ONE noticed, a dinosaurthat is somehow impervious to molten lava dripping directly onto its head, literally no character motivation (other than greed, fittingly), and people choosing to climb into cages with super-apex predators more than once. There’s also a twist that is so inconsequential and comes so late into the movie that the only time you’re surprised is when none of the characters blurt out“Who cares!?” when it’s revealed. It all adds up to one very, very stupid movie that blatantly insults the moviegoer’s intelligence.


And whereas the first Jurassic World could at least boast somewhat interesting characters and performances, here we are left with BD Wong inexplicably whining the entire time and Justice Smith shrieking every one of his lines while the only thing he has to fear are the jaws of a terrible and pointless performance that could devour his fledgling career. Rafe Spalldoes a great job of reminding you why you have to look up the movie’s cast to remember his name.  Award winning actors Toby Jones and James Cromwell seem just as confused as you as to why they’re in the film, Buffalo Bill returns to collect dinosaur teeth instead of human skins, and Jeff Goldblum stops by to pick up a fat check for an extremely bored cameo. And in our two lead roles we find Chris Pratt confirming the suspicion that his range begins and ends at “Star-Lord” these days, and I’m suing Bryce Dallas Howard’s acting coach for emotional damages due to crippling secondhand embarrassment.


Then there’s that pungent stale smell, like when you got a whiff of the tennis shoes that were sitting in your high school gym locker for six months. Whereas I would’ve been more than okay with a few nods to its predecessors here and there, Fallen Kingdom uses references less as a crutch and more of a wheelchair. It all feels like just another rehash for millennial nostalgia bucks, only this time employs those “remember that?” moments with a stunning incompetence. I understand you can’t do much with “The dinosaurs got loose!” plot, but don’t give us an even worse remake of Jurassic Park: The Lost World. Almost everything is lifted from the other movies, from dialogue to set pieces even to the very poses the dinosaurs strike as they let loose their roars center frame in cheaply replicated hero shots. Hell, the main baddy, the Indoraptor, looks exactly like the Indominus Rex- just smaller and with golden racing stripes this time, because originality, of course! The film even repeats itself ad nauseam – the whole “Oh the dinosaur is tranqued it definitely won’t wake – OH NO IT WOKE UP, WHAT A SURPRISE!!” shtick is used over and over and over again until we wish they would just tranquilize us instead.


One point of praise I’ve seen is that the action is at least decentand suspenseful, which is respectfully just flat out wrong. There are plenty of run-for-your-life moments, sure, but when the biggest threat in the movie seems to be a dinosaur that just head-butts through people and walls, you have a problem. Alas, the most heart pounding action Fallen Kingdom provided was my girlfriend flailing her arms in spasms of utter frustration and bewilderment, nearly decapitating me and the guy in front of her, at every bafflingly stupid thing unfolding before us.


So save yourself the money and the damaged brain cells. Don’t give the studios your hard earned money or drain MoviePass’salready dwindling profits for this garbage fest. Stay home and pop Jurassic Park into the Blu-Ray player. Scar your children with some genuinely frightening dinosaur moments, instill a sense of awe, and let them grow up knowing what a good movie looks like so that when the time comes up they’ll stay the hell away from cynical studio-greed shlock like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom