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Friday
Jun222018

Review: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"

by Chris Feil

It should maybe be said upfront that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an improvement over its woebegone predecessor. If you are an optimist at heart (or just a realist, because the “original” World was truly THAT bad), you might have assumed so already. Why you might not have assumed is that Fallen Kingdom is hellbent on crushing that optimism to dust, and even moreso the hope at the heart of its own franchise.

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, a volatile volcano threatens the entire remaining species on Isla Nublar. While the world watches, mired in the ethical battle to let the dinosaurs die or make efforts to save these living creatures, Bryce Dallas Howard’s former park manager Claire Dearing is recruited to help a last-dash rescue mission. That means also reconciling with former lover and raptor herder Owen Grady, Chris Pratt’s wise ass hero. It’s a recipe for disaster that comes to its natural dire conclusion, resulting in the dinosaurs reaching civilization.

Back on the mainland, the film crafts one of the more lugubrious and morbid third acts that strips the film of all of its internal logic. Aside from the series’ most shark jumping plot development, our goodwill for fun is stripped to its barest threads as the film doles out one heavy dose of gruesomeness after another. It’s as if the film uses our love for these films (especially the original), against us. One particular bit of emotional manipulation mirrors one of the most awe-inspiring images of Park and then crushes your soul with it. It’s a lot of corporate brutality and spiritual ugliness for one blockbuster to burden.

To the extent that these kind of films are like watching a kid bash all of their toys together (which is certainly a valid vessel for cinematic fun), Fallen Kingdom is the playground bully bashing their toys together after setting yours on fire.

The film dances around ideas that reflect our current social climate, positing the creation of the dinos as a scientific pandora’s box that cannot be closed. Whether we should deal with the mess we’ve made or burn it all down is the the film’s foggy moral conundrum, one its not nearly smart or even fully interested enough to examine beyond the surface. Ultimately, the most crushingly familiar and clearly drawn element is how human hubris is exploited for evil. While these narrative ideas are its strongest, they are also overly grim. Yeah, this sequel is a giant downer.

But because the film doesn’t have the intellectual wherewithal to connect these notions,it kind of just flops about in its own filth and the current cultural miasma that it half-summons and chickens out on. Similarly half-baked, the film initiates a playable dynamic for Howard and Pratt to play as thwarted lovers before quickly turning both into empty respondents to the CGI mayhem.

Sadly you can feel director J.A. Bayona’s typically hard-won uplift given so little space to shine through all of the sadistic franchise machinations. When his creative voice announces itself in galvanizing horror fashion as he did with The Orphanage, the film delivers on thrills worthy of the Jurassic name. You just may need a cigarette and a hug after.

Grade: OUCH D+

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Reader Comments (11)

Billy Elliot musical cancelled in Hungary after campaigners claim it will turn kids gay.
Good morning to you all

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

What happened to big franchise movies that were designed for you to have fun at the movies? Who wants to pay some exorbitant admission fee to be depressed afterward. Count me out.

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

... And everybody worried with the protagonist's high heels...

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCorey Coliseum

With the title Fallen Kingdom, it's too bad this pile of junk doesn't serve as an apt political metaphor for the country. Or maybe its own ineptitude and despair do.

June 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

On the contrary, I thought this is the 2nd best in the franchise, and the only one, original aside, that truly explores sci-fi themes with interest and depth. I'm surprised how little film reviewers actually paid attention to how the last act ties everything up and launches the whole experience to a different, unexpected level (I have to admit, the first half was a huge shrug and later acknowledged it was a built-up to that final act).

June 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Although Jurassic World was a retread of Jurassic Park, it is leaps and bounds better than Fallen Kingdom. In Fallen Kingdom there is no character development, a lot of fights between humans (when we want to watch dinos), stupid decisions, the Brice Dallas Howard character is reduced to the damsel in distress stereotype, and Chris Pratt's character to the hero stereotype, among other atrocities. The movie is barely entertaining.

June 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

SPOILERS on why I thought JWFK is way, way better than the JWorld and a good film (even if it took me a while to "get" it).

- No character developement? Lol, at all. There's a role reversal from the previous film. Pratt's cynical and starts only interested in Blue, that's why he accepts to go. Howard's looking for redemption, yet at the very end she understands she's in a no end alley in which saving the dinosaurs would condemn the whole planet. The kid learns about herself and makes a decission adults can't take, yet can't really stop her or argue against it because they just discovered how complex the actual situation is, and lines have been crossed you can't uncross (the dinosaurs are already in delivery to other parts of the planet... and they're going to be exploited and even used as weapons)

- Void spectacle? At all, there are plenty of running themes and subtext, allegories too, while making it an entertaining ride with some cool - even if some of them, suspension of disbelief ris required as the thermoplastic cloud chase - set pieces.

- The ending feels earned and foreshadowed and grown throughout the film.

- James Cromwell and Geraldine Chaplin, for God's sake! And Toby Jones!

In the end, I think this film is being misjudged, specially because it is the sequel to a horrid film, the worst in the series, which for sure was void, stupid and that only scratched the surface of what a true sci-fi film is, mixing Jurassic Park with Westworld

June 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

"While these narrative ideas are its strongest, they are also overly grim. Yeah, this sequel is a giant downer."

"Empire Strikes Back", anyone? ;-)

You're welcome.

June 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

I disagree with you about "Jurassic World" which was a better satisfying science fiction adventure. This one is just plain ridiculous with a plot that make no sense and specially annoying new supporting characters.

June 24, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

I hated this movie, my family hated this movie. That scene with the dinosaur at the dock being vaporized was traumatizing to kids, and was not only not needed, it was unrealistic, as I doubt a dinosaur would have an emotional state to begin with. So much opportunity, and so wasted!

June 25, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteraksnt

I miss the high heels!

June 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDO

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