Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — Same Old Slop With A Little More Feeling
Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly somehow conned their way back into penning another Jurassic World script, which was handed over to the capable hands of director J. A. Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls), who seeks out to inject the franchise with some much needed humanity. But are his efforts enough, or is it too little, too late?
Fallen Kingdom sets sail three years after the events of the disastrous Jurassic World, with the escaped dinosaurs now inhabiting the island of Isla Nublar to fend for themselves in the jungles. When the island's once-dormant volcano begins roaring back to life, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event, where they uncover a conspiracy that could return our entire planet to a perilous order not seen since prehistoric times.
Essentially, Fallen Kingdom is two hour-long films stitched into one two-hour eye roll that is almost so bad it's good. The first half feels like a soft reboot of The Lost World, in that it's a rescue mission wherein we learn that the corporations have malintent, and the second half is an entirely new breed of absurd beast: a haunted house type film littered with dinos run amok. If it sounds bizarre, it's because it absolutely is.
It should come as no surprise that all of Fallen Kingdom's issues stem from its utterly trite and stupid screenplay, ripe with MORE genetically modified dinosaurs (because "bigger" is better), characters doing/saying extremely stupid things, and so many idiotic and problematic holes that it's not even really worth dissecting ad nauseam.
Given the crummy source material, it's very apparent that J. A. Bayona (who you can hear in a Q&A session our friend Rob Chenoweth recorded for his Pop That! podcast) did the best that he could with this film. His direction is fluid and crisp, and his camera angles and movements amp up the tension of scenes. Bayona makes Fallen Kingdom look much better than it really deserves to be, and he wears his humanity on his sleeve, which surprisingly makes for a handful of genuinely touching moments — I'm looking at you, lone brontosaurus crooning on the smoky lava dock.
The best scene in the entire film is a long take when our protagonists are trying to escape the erupting volcano. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Franklin (Justice Smith) are trapped in the gyrosphere after rolling it off a cliff. The scene is one entire long take from inside the gyrosphere as Owen (Chris Pratt) attempts to save them. It's a supremely effective scene, and it's Bayona's sensibilities and visual prowess that make it work so well. It's clear that if the film was placed in another filmmaker's hands that it wouldn't turn out nearly as good, which just speaks volumes about Bayona and his abilities as a director.
Outside of the aspects that Bayona is able to elevate, Fallen Kingdom falls prey to the same malarkey that Jurassic World was susceptible to, making it another prehistoric letdown, albeit not to the grand capacity of its direct predecessor. However, Fallen Kingdom's ending is one of the most absolute stupidest endings I've seen from a franchise in a long time, and I have a theory about it that I'd like to share, which will veer into some SPOILER territory.
So, the little idiotic clone girl who releases the dinosaurs at the end of the film takes on (what is most definitely an unintentional) metaphor. She means one of two things: 1) she's a representation of the inner child of Jurassic Park enthusiasts, who against their better judgement in knowing that the franchise should just go extinct, keeps releasing more films into the wild through their silly nostalgic tendencies and/or morbid curiosities; OR 2) she's a representation of the younger generations who innocently and inevitably spawn more reboots and new installments to franchises that we know as adults are better off extinct.
Let's face it, there's only one true Jurassic Park film, and every film that has tried to follow it has paled in comparison and fallen straight on its face. With that in mind, I think that any Jurassic Park sequels are better left for dead, but given the money Fallen Kingdom has raked in, I know that subsequent Jurassic Park films are an inevitability. Despite that fact that Fallen Kingdom restores some much needed humanity in this beaten dead franchise, this is where I choose to get off the ride; it's just becoming too ridiculous and mindlessly incoherent. New efforts in the Jurassic franchise only serve as a reminder that nothing is sacred and as proof that, once again, life finds a way.
Rating: 1.5 big piles of shit outta 5.
What do you think? Was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom a prehistoric letdown? Was a small step forward from the last film? Should Colin Trevorrow stop writing screenplay?! We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!