No preamble here. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is shit, here’s why. Spoilers for the entire movie ahead.
-Main issue I have with the premise: I know the volcano was dormant (though I don’t think the film acknowledges this, it’s stated in other places). It still seems weird to me that John Hammond and Not John Hammond introduced in this film though it’d be a smashing idea to set their revolutionary scientific breakthrough park on an island with a volcano that became active a quarter of a century after they set up shop. Maybe vulcanologists can explain to me how this is fine from a logistic standpoint, but there had to be more abandoned islands off the cost of Costa Rica they could have gone, you know?
-So people have brought up Isla Sobar, but to the movie’s credit they do point out that all the dinosaurs were removed from that island and transferred to Jurassic World. With that said, and considering it’s nubile ground for dino cohabitation, why is it never brought up to move them back there? I doubt the island is being used for much else.
-The opening would have been a lot more effective if the guy who gets hunted wasn’t such a fucking idiot. Why wouldn’t you immediately run when you see your teammates freak out instead of standing there asking what the deal is? Darwin winner over here.
-Also the film has an issue with lingering on reactions to dinosaurs a bit too long. This happens throughout the movie so I thought I’d say it here. I mean that tends to be a thing in Hollywood films, I’m not against the concept of reaction shots, just the fact that they stay still so long that even being in shock would not have you stand for so long while a dinosaur is trying to eat you. Survival skills are on point, lads.
-The Mosasaurus escaping is never really brought up at all until that shot in the final montage, which is interesting given the moral dilemma right at the end of the movie. It’s not a huge deal or anything, just kind of weird. The production crew of these flicks seem to love the thing.
-Predictably, Ian Malcolm is in the movie for, like, 20 seconds. It looked like less than a day’s shooting. Honestly, his presence could have been used a lot, because the theme of animal rights vs respecting the balance of nature kind of desperately needed a voice for the nature side of things. Our heroes are motivated to protect the dinosaurs from exploitation, and our villains are profit motivated. It robs the movie of any weight on the moral dilemma when it very clearly sides with the idea that they deserve a chance at life. Thematically, it’s weightless. Maybe not Ian exactly, as his connection to the previous movies would make the audience gravitate automatically to him, but somebody to point out that these things are massive killers who could murder a whole bunch of folks.
-Also I don’t think he actually says ‘Life found a way’ despite the trailer hanging on that line. I could have just not heard it, though.
-How come the other survivors of the previous movies didn’t give witness testimonies? I mean, I know why ($$$), but for narrative purposes I’d love to see what Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler thought of all this. Maybe, while they agree that we shouldn’t relocate them close to civilisation, they believe that these creatures are living things and can offer us so many answers to evolutionary questions with their being alive? All I’m saying is a political battle between Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm for the sanctity of dino rights sounds way more entertaining than the mess we got.
-So Bryce Dallas Howard is now a dinosaur rights activist? I mean, we do get that scene in Jurassic World where she sees the Aptosaurs dying, but it seems a bit of a reach to go from ‘cut off workaholic’ to ‘dino loving tree hugger’ in the space of three years. This is more a commentary on how little character her and Chris Pratt have, which is disappointing given that the original was brimming with character. But honestly, it’s a reason to shoehorn her into the plot, nothing more.
-So, any vets out there can tell me the likelihood of being one that specialises in a species that they have never actually met before? One of these characters is a dinosaur vet and has never seen a dinosaur before in her life. I don’t have words for how stupid that is.
-In the interest of fairness, positive point towards the movie: Not John Hammond’s mansion looks great. Awesome gothic design and very reminiscent of the waiting room in Jurassic Park. It’s a shame we only get a few sparse moments in the climax and running around with the girl, as the movie decided boring hallways and weird auction rooms were a better source of location.
-Rafe Spall is so obvious a villain. I don’t know if that is worse than the fact that he turns into a complete cartoon character once the movie tells us he is a villain. What a waste of a great actor.
-Hi, Not John Hamond! John Hammond’s co-partner in making Jurassic Park that has not been mentioned in 4 movies and yet everyone knows him. He feels like a rewrite and they originally were going to have Hammond in the movie before Richard Attenborough died (he even has an amber fly walking stick like Hammond’s that symbolically smashes), but Hammond was confirmed to have died in Jurassic World, so…
-The Patented Little Kid will be explored later, all I want to point out is that they keep cutting back to her to hype up her importance and…spoilers she’s really doesn’t add anything outside of mythos headaches. It also breaks the pace of the stuff happening on the island and is not really important enough to keep. We don’t even get that much of the awesome set decoration, cause it’s mostly in and out of upstairs hallways and the underground lab. My overall thoughts on Patented Little Kid is that she’s not as annoying as most of the Jurassic franchises’ little kids are, mostly due to the actress, but the amount of screentime they waste on her makes her a bit of a drag.
-Okay, so we know the island sanctuary isn’t real. But how stupid is Not John Hammond? I know he relies too much on Rafe Spall, and he lets him do everything because he’s barely mobile and dying, but he didn’t, I don’t know, see any photos of this island before signing off on this? Does Rafe Spall really do anything? That’s a lot of trust to put in a guy you didn’t know well enough to know he was using your money to make deals with the black market behind your back.
-While I’m at it, why not just create a base on a nearby island? Seems a lot less expensive and risky than…building a dinosaur pen under an old man’s house. I know this person apparently has infinity money like all movie rich people, but considering if something went seriously wrong, maybe a smaller enclosure than a forest in the middle of the United States would suit your evil plan better?
-Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard broke up between movies so we can do this boring will-they won’t-they again when we know how it will end. It’s trite and dull, and these guys didn’t have enough chemistry to be interested in their banter to begin with, and the only saving grace is that the movie barely focuses on it.
-Let’s talk villain plan! The only reason Rafe Spall hires Bryce Dallas Howard is to track Blue, the only Velociraptor survivor in the previous film. Bryce is needed to turn on the tracking system and gain a better access to the park’s tech, Chris Pratt to track Blue and bring her in, Dino Vet is here in case they need assistance. All fine, but why Tech Idiot? He’s their IT guy at the Dinosaur Rights Activist club, and lazy Hollywood clichés means he knows how to hack things as well because that’s how computer people computer. These mercenary dudes couldn’t just hire their own tech guys? It’s heavily implied they intend to kill them anyway to cover their tracks, why add one more body when there’s nothing about his skills that specifically requires him to be there compared to the others? This is mostly because I find Tech Idiot extremely annoying, but still!
-You know, you guys could have waited five minutes before trying to tranq the raptor and making your jobs a hell of a lot easier? For rip offs of the dudes from The Lost World, one of the most maligned films in the franchise, you all kind of suck at this.
-Chris Pratt out-manoeuvres running lava while semi-paralysed. He even wills his body to not be as paralysed. This is incredibly silly and is another example of the tone issue this movie has.
-Positive point: the whole mountain run away from the ash in that hamster ball thing is a great set piece. The best in the movie. YouTube’s Film Brain claimed this is likely where all the money went because the rest of the film looks so cheap, though.
-Having said that, the CG on the dinosaurs is a lot better here than it was in Jurassic World, with a lot more puppetry as well. This was mostly due to this movie having much dimmer lighting, and it’s still not perfect, but points for improvement.
– I’m skipping over a lot that happens on the island cause the movie moves so fast away from it anyway, but the game hunter in charge of the mercenary team pulls a tooth from one of the dinosaurs and adds it to a necklace. I’m only mentioning it because it sets up one of the dumbest moments in the film.
-Nobody spots our heroes ramp up in a truck and land action stunt style onto the cargo ship, nor questions it. They were going to leave without all the trucks on board? Also they leave the docking bay before the ship closes, which may cause it to flood? I dunno.
-As an aside, Howard and Pratt spend a lot of time running around this pretty tightly packed ship and never get caught. Even after waking the dosed T-Rex up after breaking into her pen and taking her blood. It’s fucking ridiculous.
-They repeat that moment where the Brontasaurus stands on its hind legs from the first film, but this time as the island that Jurassic Park was based on gets engulfed in smoke. I have heard people put this up there as one of the few redeeming scenes, but I guess I had checked out emotionally by that point because I just did not feel anything. It feels really unearned and a bit too melancholic as we don’t spend enough time on the island at all. But…points for effort.
-Apparently T-Rex blood can be transfused with raptors. If any palaeontologist or dinosaur nut want to correct me on this cool, until then I call shenanigans to justify a crappy set piece.
-Tech Idiot fakes being a dockhand after getting caught. When we see him next time, he’s disguised as a scientist in the lab. This is never explained.
-Man, isn’t it miiiiiiightily convenient that somebody (presumably Dr. Wu) had Chris Pratt’s raptor training videos running when the Patented Little Kid goes down to the lab. And by ‘convenient’ I mean this is how Pratt gets her to trust him later in the film. Lazy writing makes baby Jesus cry. I can’t remember when exactly this scene takes place because all the cutaways to her are boring and serve no other purpose than to heighten her importance. They could pretty much be in any order.
-Not John Hammond has a lab, a dinosaur auction room equipped with cage ramp, and several mercenaries running around underneath his house, later on has fucking dinosaurs underneath it, ALSO guests involving corrupt black market millionaires driving around his remote ass country mansion, never hears any of this, and never suspects his douchehole of an assistant is fucking him over until much later (and he’s told about it, that’s how he finds out). You deserve to have your fortune ripped off by an opportunistic jag-off, Not John Hammond!
-Toby Jones is really amazingly ridiculous here. He’s probably giving my favourite performance because he could not give less of a shit about this whole thing and just owns it. I can’t decide who’s slumming it more out of him and Cromwell.
-I just want to point out how stupid auctioning off the dinosaurs is. Of all the dumb ideas you take from Jurassic World, you take the militarising them one. and try to justify it by saying animals were used in combat! Yeah, there’s a reason they’re not as used anymore! These creatures are useless in battle.
-Rafe Spall monologues at our heroes and claims that Bryce Dallas Howard has some place in their scheme because of her involvement in creating the Indonimus Rex in the last film. I, uh, I don’t think Colin Treverrow remembers Jurassic World all that clearly.
-Also kill them. Kill them. They serve absolutely no purpose to you, you have them imprisoned, you tell your men to tell people they died on the island, which they had no problem letting happen in the first place. Kill them, just kill them, just…leave and don’t shoot their fucking heads off, next to the dinosaur exactly able to help them escape! Brilliant.
-Positive point: the Stygimoloch scene is fun. Wish the film had more of a lighthearted tone to it throughout.
-So Dr. Wu kind of has a bit more of a character change here. While his heel turn into slight villainy in the last movie was…strange, I could deal with it as he’s barely a character in the original movie. He was clearly only brought in because B.D. Wong is now a recognisable name from Law and Order, and they wanted a bridging character from the original movie that would actually work with them full time. And it’s been 20+ years, maybe he got older and more disillusioned after some rich idiot destroyed his life’s work by trying to merchandise it into a theme park. But he had some level of authority and control when dealing with authority figures. Here though? He just seems really weirdly subservient to Rafe Spall, who practically walks all over him. I get that he needs the guy’s funding for his work, but he seemed to have way more of a spine in the last film. Do these writers know how to write characters they essentiallyintroduced in the last movie?
-The Indoraptor is stupid, and such a lazy rehash of the I-Rex, just now with less skills, ridiculously heightened intelligence and a stupid thing where it reacts to a scope and bell to try to control it which definitely doesn’t come back in a major way at the end of the movie (also why is it shaped like a rifle?). The design is kind of cool, though.
-Toby Jones brings it out to tease his audience at the stupid auction, then auctions it anyway. These guys seem to have all their ducks in a row, anyway!
-After Not John Hammond is told that Rafe Spall betrays him, he calls him up to his room and POLITELY ASKS HIIM to call the police on himself. This goes about as well as the old genius gets smothered to death with a pillow. YOU ARE NOT WORTHY ENOUGH TO BE IN LEAGUE WITH JOHN HAMOND’S FAILINGS, GOOD SIR!
-Here we get to one of the most memorable, hopefully memeable, moments in the film. Remember the game hunter from earlier on with the teeth obsession? Well, he gets his comeuppance by tranquing the Indoraptor and trying to steal one of his teeth. The dumbass then goes into the cage, and we know the tranq didn’t work because the I-Raptor LOOKS DIRECTLY AT THE CAMERA AND GRINS before eating the stupid fucker. I have no words for just how amazingly daft this entire sequence of events is, I just wish it was in a movie trying to be dumb fun. This has a way more serious tone, so the enjoyment I’m feeling is unironic because the stupid movie just shot itself in the foot and is pretending the limp is a tapdance!
-Also Toby Jones had all the time in the wold to run away during the Stygiomoloch rampage, but…didn’t. Anyway, he does something really stupid and gets killed by the Indoraptor. Ho-hum.
-Because of stuff too stupid to remember clearly, Dr. Wu gets knocked out, the two inept supporting characters free Blue, this causes a (really confusing) chain reaction that seeps toxic gas into the dino’s containment area, and they literally turn Blue into an action hero by jumping away from the explosion Bond-style. All of this is dumb and riffable, but more in the ‘You have to see it’ sense.
-BTW, we never see Dr. Wu again after his guards carry him away when he gets knocked out. Those guards are later killed by Blue. Was he, like, still in the lab when it exploded or…?
-Okay, the twist. Patented Little Kid is a clone of Not John Hammond’s daughter who died in a car crash, and that’s why him and Hammond stopped talking. A couple of things:
–One, cloning humans adds another layer of sci-fi on this franchise it really doesn’t need. Like, they were pushing it with original dinosaurs, but it worked within the lore’s own continuity. Cloning a perfectly functioning and healthy human being in the 90s is just the stretch too far into doofy territory even for how off the wall a lot of these films are. I thought dino-human hybrids was too much, but at this rate bring them on!
–Two, Jurassic Park is about 25 years old, even in continuity, and this girl can’t be older than…what, 12/13? If this is why they fell out and we haven’t heard of Not John Hammond before this, it stands to reason they fell out before the events of the first movie (also Hammond died shortly after The Lost World). Was the clone just…sitting in a test tube for decades? What exactly is our timeline here?
–Three, how has this never leaked? I mean fair play for keeping it a secret for that shitting long, but greedy opportunist Rafe Spall didn’t think selling off HUMAN CLONING wouldn’t be a great moneymaker?! There are probably a lot of other variants that make it seem amazing that they kept this under wraps for years, even with hiding her in the house.
–Four, this adds fucking nothing to the story and has no bearing on the plot outside of one decision near the end that could have been written around. With how much weight and significance they gave Patented Little Kid, this is so goddamn sloppy and should have been removed.
-Kind of positive point: the Indoraptor chase scene is filled with inspired moments and, well, dull and boring moments like the rest of the film. Highlights include it using the cool aesthetic of Not John Hammond’s house to camoflague itself (in one of the subtler references to Jurassic Park) and how it gets impaled on those horns when it dies (even if that stupid gun is involved).
-Positive point: the entire Nosferatu-esque sequence of the Indoraptor sneaking up to the girl in bed is creepy and atmospheric and well lit and brilliant. Though I think it opens the door too easily (yeah yeah yeah, another JP reference, but they seemed to figure that out a lot more gradually like an animal would), and I don’t get why it’s just stalking her slowly like that as it gives Chris Pratt time to save her, but it’s a glimpse into what the film could have been.
-You know, the moral conflict would be a lot more impactful if the film had bothered to not make it so one-sided. It clearly wants the dinosaurs to survive. Say what you will about the first film being very clearly on the ‘Man must not fuck with nature’ theme, it at least felt a lot more nuanced and well-discussed. Here though, they introduce a conflict and don’t do anything with it until now. When one of the few humanising moments we actually get with our two leads is them talking about the first time they saw a dinosaur, it’s really hard not to see what side the movie wants you to fall on.
-Also Bryce Dallas Howard goes against that and decides to let the dinosaurs die. This would have had more impact if this was set up more like her realising her values may be wrong after having them challenged, and not a really dumb heel turn of having the Patented Little Kid do it in order to justify the clone twist. Because let’s face it, that’s what it is.
-They never bring up other dinosaurs who 1. Have already escaped, and 2. Probably flew away while the island was exploding, but this is a lot more of them all over America, so I guess I’ll cut them some slack.
-Man, what great sequel bait. I can’t wait to see how they fuck up such a great idea of dinosaurs roaming America!
-This was an issue throughout the movie, but goddamn did the promotional material just spoil everything in this film. They even gave away that shot of the T-Rex roaring at the lion! Universal seemed to have zero confidence in this thing’s ability to sell itself without the huge marketing push! I probably would be more annoyed if the movie was any good, mind.
-In case people bring it up, I don’t dislike Fallen Kingdom because I’m taking the movie too seriously. The movie takes itself too seriously. Jurassic World wasn’t a great movie by any stretch, but it was arch and knowingly dumb enough to make me ignore that for the most part. Fallen Kingdom has a serious tone problem, and this easily would have resolved a lot of my issues here. I am pretty forgiving of Jurassic Park films, I even give the third one a pass, but this one lacked the knowing wink and adventurous spirit that made the other sequels so passable even with how bad they are. It was really disappointing.