Friday, July 6, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Directed by J. A. Bayona
2018. Rated PG-13, 128 minutes.
Bryce Dallas Howard
Chris Pratt
Rafe Spall
Isabella Sermon
Justice Smith
Daniella Pineda
James Cromwell
Toby Jones
Ted Levine
B. D. Wong
Jeff Goldblum

On a daily basis, I read or hear about something that makes me question humanity's collective intelligence. You might think I'm talking about the current regime administration here in the United States. Ostensibly, I am, but to be fair, when we're talking about laws and policies, whether or not something is smart is a matter of opinion. My focus is on the micro level where regular folk do things that are undeniably dumb. I'm talking about adults who should know better. Some truck driver slams into the overhang at a fast-food drive-thru because he/she ignored the sign that tells them no vehicles over 9 feet tall will fit. Some fool gets themselves killed because they tried to beat the train at a railroad crossing in spite of all the bells, flashing lights, and most importantly, the arm being down to keep them from doing such a thing. Some other knucklehead will get mauled because they decided to jump in the pen of a dangerous animal at the zoo. Pardon me, if I don't have a ton of faith in the few thousand of us whom we elect to take care of us as a group. They're supposed to be the elite, but aside from having more money, and possibly, more degrees than most of us, they're just as dumb. Think about the things they get into: embezzling money from organizations that employ an army of accountants, paying off mistresses with checks leaving easy dots to connect, lying about the lies they told before even though every word they've uttered for the last 10 years seems to be on record somewhere, and of course, just like us regular dudes, sending unwanted dick pics.


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I mean, the whole Jurassic Park franchise is merely artistic confirmation that we, are in fact, stupid as hell. Okay, I'll let the first movie slide, because I can see someone fooling with this whole dinosaur thing once. Once. Dear reader, we're now five movies in and idiots keep going back to the well. By idiots, I mean those in the movie and in the audience. Yes, I count myself in the latter. I paid to see this, sort of (thanks Movie Pass). My excuse is the same one I had back when I used to religiously watch The Jerry Springer Show. I just want to see some people obviously not as bright as me to make me feel better about myself. Found them!

Like most horror flicks, this franchise depends on lots of people making poor decisions. The movie before this one, Jurassic World, leaned on heavily on mass negligence and incompetence to push it along. Think about the Indominus Rex. The powers that be at Jurassic Park chose, on purpose, to create a dinosaur nastier and meaner than a T-Rex that can camouflage itself and slip by the security measures, for no other reason than for people to come look at it. Yeah. That was just the tip of the iceberg of idiocy. Homo-sapiens did one imbecilic thing after another to get us to the closing credits. I didn't think there was any way the people in this franchise could be any more dense. Thankfully, I was wrong. Way wrong.

After the events of the previous film, the dinos have been left on the island of Isla Nublar to fend for themselves. Three years have passed and the volcano on the island has become active and it appears that a massive eruption that will kill all the dinosaurs is imminent. At this point, I'm sitting in the theater thinking this is where the movie should end. The volcano will take care of our problem for us. Of course, my idea doesn't make for a good movie. Therefore, art imitates life, and some of us bleedin' heart liberals decide that these animals, or as many of them as possible, must be saved. Thankfully, the Senate rules against this, but that matters not because Benjamin Lockwood (Cromwell), the former partner of John Hammond, the man who started all this back in the original Jurassic Park has given the okay to his top aide, Eli Mills (Spall) to perform a not-so-legal rescue of the dinosaurs and bring them to somewhere in California. For this mission, our heroes (?) from the last movie are called in, Claire (Howard) and Owen (Pratt). Despite their history with these creatures, they go anyway. Sigh, adults who should know better. As if all that weren't stupid enough, and I'm going to spoil something incredibly obvious here, Mills double-crosses his boss and wants to auction off the dinos for as much money as he can get his filthy paws on to people who have a lot more cash than sense and still...still think they can weaponize them. Where is this auction supposed to take place? In Lockwood's house. So yeah, Mills is having dinosaurs brought directly to Lockwood's mansion. Stuck in the middle of all this, of course, is a child. What would a Jurassic Park movie be without a child in danger, right? In this case, that child is Lockwood's granddaughter Maisie (Sermon). What's the worse that could happen?

Like everyone in the auditorium with me, I found myself with a decision to make. Am I going to roll my eyes, lament how much the Hollywood blockbuster has been dumbed down, and have a terrible time in the process? Or, will I revel in the madness, laugh at the fools on screen while shoveling buttered popcorn down my gullet, delight in dino-mayhem, and enjoy myself? I chose the latter. And you should, too. It's healthier for you. I mean, how miserable would I make myself if I took offense at every stupid thing that happens in a movie where no one does anything all? The closest thing to that would the cinematographer, editor, and director all coming together to make sure there was a shot clearly showing that Claire was not, I repeat NOT, wearing high heels this time around. What fun would I have had if I put on my serious film-critic hat and groaned incessantly about writing that wasn't nearly as interested in telling a good story as it was in making sure its human characters were directly in the path of something with large teeth and a bad disposition? It's the old Friday the 13th axiom: never deepen the narrative when upping the body count will do. And you know I love me some Jason flicks. How pissed off would I be had I cared that most of the actors were pretty clearly counting down the minutes until filming wrapped and all the checks cleared? I wasn't there for an Oscar-worthy performance, anyway. Well, at least from the actors.

I did want to see Oscar-caliber special fx. I wanted big, angry dinosaurs eating people and each other to look like big, angry dinosaurs eating people and each other. The movie delivered this, often. It was a bit slow going in the beginning, but once it got going, it was non-stop HUFF. PUFF. RAWR! RAWWWWRRRRR! STOMP STOMP KRASH! RAWWWWRRRRR! CHOMP CHOMP! NOM NOM NOM! RAAAAAWWWWWWWRRRRRRRR! (swelling music) HUFF. PUFF. That's definitely, exactly, precisely, absolutely, certainly, doubtlessly, undoubtedly, unquestionably, undeniably why I bought a ticket. And it does it without becoming overly long, tedious, confusing, and headache inducing like those monochrome battle filled Transformers movies.

Before I get too carried away, there were a couple things that I have to knock it for. First, his movie could stand to use a bit more Jeff Goldblum. Perhaps he wasn't in the mood for standing in front of a green screen pretending to run for his life, but he only shows up to bookend the movie at a Senate hearing to argue for letting the dinosaurs die. Second, this movie really needs more mosasaurus. In case you don't know what a mosasaurus is, it's the giant water-dino that leapt out of the Sea World style tank and ate a great white shark like a tic tac in Jurassic World. Like Goldblum, this guy merely bookends the movie despite being the creature that should have the most free reign. If someone who has any sway in the decision making for the franchise happens to be reading this, make a mosasaurus solo flick happen. Please. I'll be there for it.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's finish talking about this movie.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is big. Better than that, it's big, nasty dinosaurs and scared people in a far more confined space than ever before. It's stupider than that time in fourth grade when I refused to back down from a fight with Rodney. I was a small fourth grader. Rodney was built like The Rock. I don't even mean a fourth grade version of The Rock, either. I mean The Rock as he appeared in Hercules. I figured 'I got this. My uncle's been giving me boxing lessons and I beat up the last punk who tried me.' Yeah, it didn't end well. But I digress. Fallen Kingdom is a bad movie. Whatever criticism you have for it, I'm good with that. Well, I'm good with all criticisms except one. Don't try to tell it's not fun, because it's nothing if not a barrel of laughs. Who cares if you laugh when you're not "supposed" to? That's what makes it so bad it's awesome!


  1. Nice review as always! I didn't know the name of the mosasaurus until now, but I absolutely agree with you. In that intro I was thinking 'oh boy, how are they going to deal with this one?' and it never even showed up again!

    1. I know, right! That thing should be swimming around terrorizing the whole planet.

    2. Yes! If BumbleBee can get his own movie, why not?

  2. Wow.... you're right about one thing. This world has gotten dumber. I know what I'm about to say is a broken record and I apologize for saying it again. My only interest for the film was its director J.A. Bayona because of the films he's made in the past. Alas, what he does is a work for hire even though he got Geraldine Chaplin to do a cameo in this film like in his previous films.

    1. I really enjoyed The Orphanage and A Monster Calls. Haven't seen The Impossible, yet.

  3. I reviewed this a few days ago and I took me forever to figure out where I wanted to land with it. I found it truly perplexing but not necessarily boring. It's a hard one to figure out.

    1. All I wanted was not boring and it delivered.

  4. Yes. To all of this.

    Clearly yours in more elegant, but man, wrote the same review, didn't we? I don't know how any one walking this planet doesn't have an absolute blast with Fallen Kingdom, you know? It's a frickin' ride! No one cares why the roller coaster has a loop! We should just be glad that it does.

    We are definitely becoming less intelligent as a society, it's true, but I would argue that JP:FK is another example of what I tell some of my best/worst students: They're really smart at being dumb. This flick might just be the pinnacle of the gutter of human intelligence!