REVIEW: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Posted by Matthew Thornton on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Director: J.A. Bayona
Writers: Derek Connolly (written by), Colin Trevorrow (written by), Michael Crichton (based on characters created by)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall
Runtime: 128 mins
MPAA Rating: PG-13


      Things start off strongly enough with a fairly intense action sequence that gives us a glimpse of both the T-Rex and the Mosasaurus (large aquatic dinosaur from the previous film) as some DNA from the Indominus Rex is scooped up by a team of mercenaries for unknown reasons. Alright you’ve got my attention, but hold up, we now have to slog through a bunch of incredibly boring exposition. Basically, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) from the last movie meets with an old guy who helped create dinosaur-cloning technology (James Cromwell, looking like he barely has a pulse) at his massive mansion, and he informs her about how he wants to move all the dinosaurs on the island from the last film to a new island because the old island is awaiting an impending volcanic eruption. Wait, why was the multi-billion dollar dinosaur park built on an active volcano? No, time for questions…because we have to go get Chris Pratt because they need somebody who can wrangle Blue from the previous movie because she is the last living velociraptor. So they all hop on a boat with a bunch of shady mercenaries to go save some dinosaurs.

      The first half of this movie is a typical “They need our help. We have to go back” storyline. You get to meet the stereotypical main mercenary dude played by Ted Levine (who I simply know as Captain Stottlemeyer from the show Monk) who you know is obviously a villain approximately five seconds after he appears on screen. There are also some really annoying side characters such as nerdy tech guy who is a scrawny coward that screams really loudly and serves basically no other purpose outside of these characteristics. It’s so funny he is screaming at the T-Rex that is trying to eat them. Do you see how I get genuinely confused about whether I’m supposed to feel tension and be scared or just laughing at the intentionally comedic acting? There is also dinosaur-rights activist veterinarian girl who is equally purposeless. Anyways, Chris Pratt finds Blue and gets double-crossed by the mercenaries which ends with Blue getting captured and Chris Pratt tranquilized. This leads us to the first of many comical scenes. When Chris Pratt wakes up, he has no motor control, and the volcano has started erupting. Some laughably awful-looking CG lava is creeping towards him as struggle to contort his body in a wacky fashion away from being cooked alive. It’s as if the filmmakers do not know how to separate peril from slapstick comedy. Soon after, we reach the main sequence from the trailer where all the main characters and dinosaurs are frantically running away from the eruption, which is all well and good for a CG spectacle though a lot more funny than it is intense. Eventually, Chris Pratt, Claire, and the two side characters are all able to “sneak” back aboard the mercenary ship by driving a truck at full speed off a ramp to land inside the boat (this draws no attention whatsoever). They then stow themselves away amidst a bunch of captured dinosaurs that the mercenaries are bringing back with them. If for some reason you are really emotionally invested at this point, you get one last look at a Brontosaurus that did not get off island as it is engulfed in a cloud of smoke while manipulative sad music plays…sheds single tear.

      If you are confused by the plot at this point, it is understandable so I am going to attempt to clear things up. So the reason the mercenaries specifically capture Blue is because it turns out that the nefarious scientist guy from the last movie wants to combine the DNA from the Indominus Rex and Blue to make the…wait for it…Indoraptor (I promise you that this film was written by two male adults). The old guy’s assistant Mills is actually the real main villain and paid the mercenaries to double-cross our protagonists because he wants to have scientist man make the Indoraptor and sell it along with all the other dinosaurs on the black market because then he will be rich, and all these vaguely Eastern European black market buyers will have prehistoric killing machines. Hold up…no, just go with it and ask questions later.

      So with a slew of dinosaurs aboard and our heroic protagonists stowed away, the ship sails from the dinosaur island to Northern California…in like a day (geography is a bit loose in this movie so don’t try to think about it too hard). The next hysterical scene involves Claire and Chris Pratt attempting a blood transfusion on a sleeping T-Rex that I am going to highly recommend you just go ahead and watch. The ship arrives and all the dinosaurs are transported inconspicuously (somehow) to the mansion where Mills has recently killed James Cromwell and is looking for a little girl who also lives there; to make things even more hilarious, it is later revealed that this girl is a human clone of James Cromwell’s daughter. I’m fairly certain the girl’s audition for this role consisted entirely of attempting to scream as obnoxiously as possible. So this mansion apparently lies atop a massive zoological sanctuary which has labs and cages and supplies to house all these dinosaurs (including the T-Rex), and, apparently, James Cromwell just did not know about any of it somehow. Anyways, this weird fashion show-esque style auction happens demonstrating just how deadly a weapon the Indoraptor is as it will attack anything that has a laser-sight pointed at it. Wait a second…if you have a laser sight pointed at a target, why could you not just shoot the target? Don’t think about that…because chaos erupts in the auction room when our protagonists release a zany little hard-headed dinosaur into the room to stir up some trouble. After the dust settles, we reach the funniest scene in the movie where Captain Stottlemeyer, who likes to collect dinosaur teeth, walks into the Indoraptor’s cage as it feigns its own death, and, the Indoraptor unabashedly winks at the camera before rapidly overpowering and dispatching the lesser antagonist and escaping its cage.

      At this point, it just devolves into a monster/horror house movie with the Indoraptor hunting everyone around the mansion getting more and more ridiculous every passing minute. Sometimes the Indoraptor is really loud, aggressive, and jumpy, and other times it is the paragon of stealth, sneaking in via a top-story window in an attempt to eat the little girl. After lots of little girl screaming and Chris Pratt running around, Blue saves the day and the Indoraptor is fittingly impaled by falling on a triceratops skull on display in the mansion. To wrap things up, the little girl sees that all the dinosaurs are trapped and going to die from a hydrogen cyanide leak and, despite Chris Pratt telling her not to, releases all the dinosaurs into the wild where they are now free to roam and kill innocent people at their leisure. Mills gets eaten by a T-Rex in another funny scene. The film concludes with a hilarious shot of pteranodons flying around the Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas. Oh yeah, I almost forgot…Jeff Goldblum is in this film to give a monologue to the Senate about humans coexisting with dinosaurs or something like that; he has nothing to do with the plot, and it is possibly the easiest paycheck he has ever earned.

      I was absolutely shocked that this film only had two credited screenwriters because it feels as though there were five or more with all the ideas that are thrown into this movie. Despite an effort to be taken seriously, everything in this movie is comical: the dialogue, the performances, the effects, etc. This movie is not afraid to get ridiculous and besides the first twenty or so minutes is never boring. This is everything a big dumb bad movie should be. To all Hollywood studios putting out large-budget summer blockbusters, if you are going to produce a terrible movie, please make it as absurd and entertaining as this and you can consider my ticket purchased.


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