Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal, 6.22) is just another serving of idiot-brand dino sausage. Same software, same template, aimed at popcorn rabble. Did I hate it? No and yes. But we all know what the shot is. Universal continues to push the same dino buttons because millions of easy-lay types have paid good money to see the sequels. The Jurassic franchise is downswirling, and Chris Pratt is devalue-ing himself. No good can come of this except to the benefit of Universal stockholders.
There’s a single, stand-alone moment that gets you — i.e., the sight of a long-necked, cow-like dinosaur moaning in despair, all alone as volcanic lava bombs rain down upon Isla Nublar as the last ship departs. The island is being consumed by the Mount Sibo volcano and this poor sad dinosaur is stuck on the pier, awaiting a fiery death. It’s the only formula-free bit in the whole film.
It’s very dispiriting to see director Juan Antonio Bayona, whose sublime crafting of The Orphanage (’07) made it one of the finest horror films of the 21st Century…it’s very dispiriting to see such a gifted director succumb to by-the-numbers, corporate-format, hack-level filmmaking.
I regret that Bayona felt obliged to begin Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom with an action-teaser sequence — the exact same strategy (i.e., a promise of gorey thrills) that so many other films in this realm have gone for.
I’m annoyed that Jeff Goldblum accepted a fat paycheck to shoot a windy Congressional testimony scene — one that boils down to an editorial warning about disturbing the natural order of things.
I hate that the first time we see Pratt’s Owen Grady, he’s building his own home — singlehandedly! — in some remote wilderness location, and I hate that he’s singing to himself when Bryce Dallas Howard‘s Claire Dearing first approaches with the expected proposition — i.e., returning to Isla Nublar to transport the dinos to a new island. And I hate the fact that no one mentions financial compensation for either Dearing or Grady as part of the deal, etc.
I was annoyed by the predictable p.c. flavor in the screenwriting and casting realms — Daniella Pineda playing Dr. Zia Rodriguez, “an ex-Marine who’s now the Dinosaur Protection Group’s paleoveterinarian”, as a blunt-spoken, tough-as-nails type, while Justice Elio Smith squeals and cries and all but weeps with panic as Franklin Webb, the Dinosaur Protection Group’s systems analyst and hacker.
I’m irked that Rafe Spall plays the reprehensible bad guy exactly as you might expect him to — oily, smooth, well-dressed, full of shit. And that James Cromwell (as Sir Benjamin Lockwood, the former partner of Richard Attenborough‘s John Hammond) was given such inane dialogue, and that he does little besides sit around in a robe and go “tut-tut” and “harumph” and “how dare you!?” And that he ignores his granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) when she tells him about Spall’s dastardly plan to cruelly exploit the dinos, etc.
I’m sorry that 73 year-old Geraldine Chaplin, playing Maisie’s nanny, wasn’t given more of a role or at least better lines.
SPOILER: The heart and editorial thrust of Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom is all about compassion for the dinos — vicious as the carnivores are, they all should be allowed to roam around in peace and not be exploited. We’re naturally appalled when Spall arranges for the dinos to be transported to iron cages in the huge basement of Lockwood Manor, the Greystone-like home of Benjamin Lockwood that’s located somewhere in Northern California. Likewise, we feel a certain gratification when Spall’s plan backfires and the wrath of the dinos is unleashed.
However, at the very end a certain character, overwhelmed with compassion for the poor beasts, decides to release them from their Lockwood cells and into the wild. I don’t know how remotely located Lockwood Manor is, but we’re told at the very end that it’s not too far from suburban civilization. Therefore the person who frees the dinos is obviously condemning God knows how many unsuspecting suburbanites to horrible deaths. An idiotic thing to do, of course. Then again it allows for all kinds of munching, ripping and screaming in the next installment.