A Slew of Poor Decisions
The late great Michael Crichton, author of hugely popular books, including Jurassic World, and creator of the hit television drama E.R., steeped his works in truths and scientific reasoning – and what research was available during the times of his writings (like the blind T-Rex, for example). He was an M.D. from Harvard with fixation on techno-thrillers, and he stands as one of the most popular authors to have his novels turned to film. When Jurassic Park hit the scene in the 90’s, it wowed a generation of adults and children, and while it took liberties in its screen adaptation, it delivered an experience haunted by realism. The Lost World followed suit, and cinematic fun was had by everyone. When Jurassic World launched in 2015, fans flocked to the theaters in droves for an entertaining sequel to the original trilogy. This weekend, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom debuted at 150 million dollars, thrashing its way to the top of the box office. And while fans, myself included, showed up to see this one, the result left many of us very disappointed.
Fallen Kingdom sees Isla Nublar, the island where Jurassic World, the dinosaur theme park, was built. After having been abandoned for a few years after the Indominous Rex incident, the volcano on the island became active. Now, animal rights activists are pleading with congress to save the animals from nature (I don’t think that’s how animal activists work, but who am I to say?), and a debate, featuring Dr. Ian Malcolm (who is of the opinion that we should let nature run its course, ending the dinosaurs and correcting man’s error), rages on whether we should intervene. The government does the right thing for once, choosing not to intervene in any way to change the fate of the dinosaurs.
That’s all well and good, but the Lockwood estate, maintained by Benjamin Lockwood’s advisor, Eli Mills, seeks to rescue a set of 11 species of dinosaurs from Isla Nublar, ideally moving them to a manmade island with no access to the rest of the world. To do so, however, Mills calls upon Claire Dearing, the infamous GM of Jurassic World who now, ironically, loves dinosaurs and wants to save them (she’s running a small start up nonprofit seeking to rescue the dinos). Specifically, Eli tells Claire that they need her help in order to rescue one particular dinosaur: Blue (while also requiring her hand print to easily track the locations of the dinosaurs). How can they capture Blue, however? With the help of Owen Grady, of course.
Once Claire convinces Owen that he needs to rescue Blue by using logical fallacies and appealing to his emotions (he believes the dinosaurs should meet their natural fate), the group is off Isla Nubar along with an army of mercenary hunters. It is this trek that begins the unraveling of Fallen Kingdom’s story, and it’s something that the movie really can’t escape. On the island, the entire team of soldiers, including our heroes and their in-over-their-heads companions from the non-profit, should perish. Owen literally comes with inches of lava without any negative effects. Additionally, he is enveloped by an impending cloud of ash from the volcano before jumping over 100 feet into water at the end of a cliff and survives (he had to, it was maybe halfway through the film). The second half of the film creates an even more absurd picture than the the first half, but to avoid any more spoilers, I won’t get into much of the details.
On a technical standpoint, Fallen Kingdom features some pretty impressive computer animated dinosaurs, improving upon the sometimes questionable Jurassic World ones. Let’s face it, however; Fallen Kingdom had little to do with dinosaurs and everything to do with just getting them to America. This can be seen during the second half of the film, where the main “bad” dinosaur rampages for about 15 minutes before meeting its demise. On top of that, all of these errors could have been avoided by one or two mediocre decisions. Yet every character in this movie is required to play up his or her archetypal actions that they seemingly cannot make a believable decision. Literally one steel latch keeps the Indoraptor cages – a creature created to be the most intelligent dinosaur ever – and that latch isn’t even programmed shut. It doesn’t require a fingerprint from the person in charge, and it’s not even locked in place. The idiot character who opens it, a clear stereotype of what is now termed “toxic masculinity” and who also references pop culture (which will always be relevant, right?), simply pulls the level with barely an inconvenience. It’s something that should probably have popped open when it banged against the cage earlier in the film.
!!WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!!
The more I think about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the more disappointed I am. It’s clearly a place holder for the third installment of the series (fingers crossed that the finale is worth the massive disappointment), and it hardly tries to be a decent film. The ending is both cringe inducing and laughable. Releasing the dinosaurs into the United States was such a dumb decision. The reasoning was even worse. Even still, I could accept the reasoning behind a child pushing the big red button, even if her reasoning made me laugh. The real issue I have is that there were a handful of dinosaurs that made it into the wild. If they brought back only 11 species, I’d imagine that it wouldn’t be too difficult to eliminate them should the need arise. Blue was shot by a pistol at close range and almost died, requiring a blood transfusion from our friend, the unkillable T-Rex. If a handgun bullet can pierce the flesh of a raptor, I’d assume it could damage or kill a majority of the dinosaurs that escaped, give or take a few with particularly resistant carapaces (even then, I don’t believe there isn’t a weapon that couldn’t kill them).
Go see this one at your volition. It’s fun for a bit, and Chris Pratt really steals the show. If you can put aside the unbelievability of the entire film, you might find something to enjoy here.