Review - 'Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom'
Were you disappointed by The Lost World? Did you scoff at the mind-numbingly stupid talking raptor dream in Jurassic Park III? Were you dumbfounded by the B-movie trappings, weak characters and abundance of product placement in Jurassic World? Well, prepare to look upon those films in a dramatically more positive light as you stare down the barrel of Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom's sh*t bazooka.
Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom truly baffled me throughout its two-hour run time as it continued to top itself in just how dumb it could be. It's utterly perplexing. For one, this movie is sort of a remake of The Lost World: Jurassic Park in the sense that it's about a group of people journeying back to the now-overrun and dilapidated Jurassic World amusement park on Isla Nublar to save a bunch of dinosaurs from extinction before a massive volcano engulfs the entire island with deadly lava and ash. Of course things don't go smoothly. Have we learned nothing from the past four films? Nope.
I will say that the volcano segment which occupies the first third of the film is bad, but not without its scant pleasures. No matter how poor your movie is, seeing dinosaurs on the big screen always wins you a few points in the end. It's in the latter two thirds of the movie where things truly collapse into a confusing mish-mash that is hardly coherent. I feel terrible for director J.A. Bayona, who is clearly trying to make the best of the horrible script he's been saddled with. This is so far from the plausibility of even the previous Jurassic World that you basically have to divorce yourself from everything that came before to even begin to enjoy this film.
This film is also filled to the brim with an insane amount of shameless references to the original two Jurassic Park films, and it's not even done in a tasteful way. The moment happens and instead of playing it off naturally like, say, Star Wars: The Force Awakens did, it pauses for effect. Did the filmmakers seriously think audiences are so dumb that they wouldn't recognize these moments? These audience members are the same people that recognized a certain Arrested Development character in the background of a very brief scene in Avengers: Infinity War.
All of the characters in Fallen Kingdom are also weak, and I don't know how the filmmakers did it, but they managed to make the ever-charming and likable Chris Pratt boring. Pratt, who plays Owen Grady, is clearly trying here, but his lines are so clunky that not even he can deliver them properly. Bryce Dallas Howard, who returns as Claire Dearing, is also worse here, even though they fixed her criticized high-heels problem. For one, her character has developed a strong affinity for dinosaurs that seems unearned. In addition to this, her arc devolves back into being a will-she-won't-she get back with Owen Grady, leaving her no real room for further character development. Then we get Rafe Spall playing the villainous Eli Mills. Mills takes the cake for the dullest villain with one one of the most ill-conceived evil plans in cinematic history. There's also some blink-and-you-miss-it wasted performances from Jeff Goldlum returning as Ian Malcolm, Toby Jones, Ted Levine and James Cromwell.
Let's talk about what this film gets right. Sorry in advance, but this will be brief. The movie is shot beautifully. J.A. Bayona and cinematographer Oscar Faura made a pretty-looking film, and the dinosaurs look great and move in a more convincing way than they did in the previous film. Bayona is also good at ratcheting up tension, and there were a few sequences that were truly effective, even if they too were completely implausible and totally unbelievable.
The real stars of the film here are the dinosaurs. If dino action is all you came for, you might just be satisfied with the proceedings, just make sure you brace yourself for the ways in which these moments come about. I will also say that the Indoraptor (the latest hybrid bad idea) is pretty threatening, and a scarier presence than the Indominus Rex in Jurassic World. This creature seems hellbent on killing and mangling every human in its path, and that makes some of the later scenes in which it is featured pretty fun.
Overall, Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom is a colossal disappointment. There's fun to be had if you completely shut your brain off and null-and-void every Jurassic Park movie that came before it, but this really is basically a Transformers film, except with Dinosaurs instead of robots.