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MOVIE REVIEW – “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

Posted on Friday, June 22, 2018 at 11:12 am

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Any dino-pun will do

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”

*1/2/****

By Jason Wiese

Have you ever watched Screen Junkies on YouTube? It is a channel (actually two, one for satirical analysis and celebration of television and film and the other for news updates on the subject) that is famous for Movie Fights and the Emmy-nominated Honest Trailers. One of their lesser known series is called Cram It in which they summarize an entire film franchise shortly before the latest sequel is released. Recently, in preparation for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, they released an episode looking back on the Jurassic Park series, concluding each summary of each of the first four films with a joke about how “no one was stupid enough to go near another dinosaur aga–” and cutting off the sentence right before moving onto the next summary.

In Fallen Kingdom, Jeff Goldblum briefly reprises his Jurassic role of Dr. Ian Malcolm. Once again, he serves as this film’s voice of reason. As he looks back on all of the fatalities and destruction caused by these creatures he asks the question, “When will we learn to stop putting ourselves in this situation?” At that point I had to chuckle upon witnessing the screenwriters’ snarky little hint. In fact, it gives me reason to believe that Fallen Kingdom is a sequel made for the sole purpose of demonstrating when enough should be enough.

Three years after the disastrous and (not really too) shocking events that led to the closing of Jurassic World, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is leading a non-profit organization to save the cloned dinosaurs left on Isla Nublar from an imminent volcanic eruption. (I suppose it is fair that the developers of Jurassic Park could not have known that there was a volcano only years shy of becoming active again on the island they chose to build it on.) When Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a past associate of Jurassic Park creator John Hammond, offers Claire a chance to rescue the creatures from a second extinction, she convinces former raptor trainer, and ex-boyfriend, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to return with her to Isla Nublar.

The scenes on the island offer the film’s sole entertainment value, with compelling action sequences well directed by J.A. Bayona. Unfortunately, they leave the island just as quickly as it takes them to get there. Soon after, we discover what the film’s real plot is. Out of respect, I will not reveal it, but I will say that it is far more ludicrous than you would expect, even from the declining escalator of quality that is this franchise.

The film makes sure not to avoid any overdone Jurassic tropes: the comic relief with a loud, exaggerated reaction to all danger (Justice Smith), a spunky, sarcastic know-it-all scientist (Daniella Pineda), a moustache-twirling, money-hungry antagonist (Rafe Spall) and another a gun (Ted Levine), a child who is smarter than most of the adults (Isabella Sermon), but I will give credit to the screenwriters for trying something different and not making her a child of divorce this time, and of course there are a few dino battles, which are plenty welcome but were still 100% more thrilling 25 years and four movies ago.

I went into this film like a do every film, with the most neutral of expectations, but when it began, I was ready to be entertained, and I was for about 15-20 minutes, until it just grew into a conveyor belt of desperate, uninspired ideas that eventually became too much for me to bare. Not even Pratt makes much of an effort to carry this one, but I guess cannot fault a man who is already the face of enough franchises to play favorites. Fallen Kingdom is the kind of sequel you may had some small hope to succeed, but ends up leaving you feeling empty inside. I did not even have the enthusiasm to come up with a single dino pun.