By Jack Dignan
It’s the speech we all know. It’s the one we all quote. Back in 1990, Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcom, in reference to the captivity and display of prehistoric creatures, said, “life cannot be contained. Life breaks free. Life… finds a way.” But the one thing life never seemed to be able to do was create a Jurassic movie that I didn’t find enjoyment in. Even for all its flaws (and I’ll admit, there are a lot), Jurassic Park 3 never fails to entertain. For me, 2015’s Jurassic World was also a ton of fun. But it seems that life finally found a way. Ian was right. Life finally created a Jurassic movie I didn’t enjoy.
The island as we know it is on the brink of destruction. A once inactive volcano has awakened, and the surviving dinosaurs are facing extinction once more. The government decides not to take action, letting these dinosaurs die, but Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has other ideas. She, along with a newly founded dinosaur rights team, travel to the island with the assistance of Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to help remove the dinosaurs before they meet their demise. The park is gone. But this franchise is far from over.
Jurassic Park’s original screenwriter David Koepp has said that the reason he believes the Jurassic sequels haven’t worked is because the writers need to keep finding new reasons for these characters to return to the island. It’s an impossible obstacle, one that never seems to quite make perfect sense even in the context of the story, but with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, this obstacle is finally overcome. The ideas this movie plays around with are fantastic. Just based on premise alone, this sounds like one of the coolest, scariest, most thrilling Jurassic movies. Unfortunately, the execution is something else entirely.
I won’t talk about anything not seen in the first two trailers, but even then, be warned they show more than I would’ve liked to have been. But what we’re dealing with here isn’t simply another run away from the vicious monsters movie. It’s a rescue mission that evolves into a haunted house movie, and that sounds fucking incredible. Screenwriters Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly have great ideas, which all builds towards a fundamentally interesting finale, but the execution is subpar. Every character decision lacks logic, and these once-scary dinosaurs are now meant to evoke sympathy (which… kinda works?).
Every scene has a dumb decision followed by another dumb decision. One character, at one point, deems it a smart idea to walk into the cage of a seemingly “unconscious” dinosaur, and it’s no surprise how that turns out, while another makes a decision that, without spoiling it, will inevitably result in the deaths of a heck of a lot of people. But they do it in the name of… science, I guess? This illogical plotting and poor characterization distances the audience from being able to connect with what’s happening. The only sentimental moments we care about are the extended and emotionally manipulative sequences in which cute dinosaurs are tortured or left to die.
Pratt and Howard have a significantly better dynamic this time around, but even then, this is the exact same “character arc” (if it can be called that) they went through in the first film. When we first meet them, they’ve derailed even further, and their development sees them undergo the exact same transformation. Not even Pratt felt as charming or likeable this time around, and that’s extremely hard for him to do. Daniella Pineda is enjoyable, but underdeveloped, and while Justice Smith gave a decent performance, his character annoyed the hell out of me. Out of fear of spoilers, I don’t even want to get into Rafe Spall’s storyline, but my god, is it dumb.
Really, ‘dumb’ is the perfect word to describe this movie. It’s dumb decision followed by dumb plot point followed by dumb ending. They even follow through with the subplot of militarising dinosaurs from the first film that nobody I’ve talked to seemed to enjoy. Director J.A. Bayona is a fantastic choice to direct the film, and there are some genuinely fantastic shots in here by cinematographer Oscar Faura, but it’s the screenplay that really drags this film into the ground. This movie is ridiculous, and for all the wrong reasons.
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