Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Chris Pratt on yet another expedition to a very familiar destination.

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Universal Pictures

A remote tropical island, you say? The crumbling remains of a notorious theme park? A jungle teeming with pissed-off lizards?

Yes, we've been here before. In this fifth installment of the Jurassic franchise, which was launched by Steven Spielberg 25 years ago, not a lot has changed. Enormous and generally unfriendly dinosaurs are still clomping and snarling and hurling each other around. They stalk, stomp and nibble at whatever humans may happen along, and desperately attempt to distract us from the fact that digital dinos haven't actually been that big a deal for many years.

Not to deride the computer artistry expended on the creatures we see here—they all have the real-life reach-out-and-touch believability that is by now standard in this genre. The most interesting among them by far, however, is the hungry Mosasaurus we encounter at the very beginning, who is actually given something new to do—rising up out of a rainswept sea to snack on a luckless human dangling off a helicopter. (This is the movie's only really striking sequence.)

So the dinos are fine; they're doing their job. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the script, written by Colin Trevorrow (who directed the previous Jurassic movie) and Derek Connolly. Their screenplay has no wit, and therefore no good lines (unless you count the scene in which one character calls another a "nasty woman"—which is just weak feminist gesturing, and not the only instance of it). Director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) has a gift for gothic atmosphere, but that's of no use in punching up the humorless material he has to deal with here.

The story is set three years after the events of the last movie. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), once the Jurassic World park manager, has become a sort of dinosaur-rights activist, much concerned about the fate of the dinos still roaming Isla Nublar, where a volcano is about to erupt and dispatch the hapless creatures back into extinction. Meanwhile, Claire's onetime squeeze, dinosaur wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), has exiled himself to a sylvan hilltop where he's earnestly building a house when Claire shows up one day to recruit him for a return trip to dinosaur island. She has been employed to do this by billionaire dinosaur enthusiast Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a partner in the original Jurassic Park project, who now wants the endangered Isla Nublar creatures transported to another island he owns for preservation.

Let me reiterate here how useless the script is for actors in search of snappy lines. This is not a pressing concern for Howard, who is as always a neutral presence; but snappy lines are the very air that Pratt must breathe—without them, he's left to quietly gasp through the movie's familiar running-and-shouting green-screen action. He's effectively sidelined.

Other characters on hand to fill out the story are Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), Lockwood's silky aide, who really seems like a nice guy; and grubby Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), who I believe is a dinosaur trafficker; and a globe-trotting sleazebucket named Eversol (Toby Jones), who flies in to orchestrate the movie's overlong climax. Claire also has two assistants, each a lazy gender-war stereotype: There's tattooed dinosaur veterinarian Daniella Pineda (Zia Rodriguez), who's tough and resourceful, and there's jittery computer tech Justice Smith (Franklin Webb), who's a hysterical coward. Naturally there's also a bright, perky little girl in the mix—Lockwood's granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon)—whose backstory actually suggests an interesting direction the next movie might take, if anyone still cares by then.

May I offer a personal observation? My own childhood was not rich in dinosaur consciousness: I never had any dinosaur books or dinosaur toys or any of the other dinosaur merch that I know attends the dinosaur phenomenon. I think it's sweet that Steven Spielberg (an executive producer now—note the brief glimpse of a shooting star in one scene) still feels a connection to this stuff—may he rock on with it for many years to come. But I have to say that I find these movies—the ones that followed the original Jurassic Park, anyway—blindingly repetitious and tremendously boring. Can I be alone in this? Lemme check something…

Okay, the last Jurassic World movie made more than $1.6-billion worldwide. I'll shut up now.

NEXT: Stare Decisis and Judge-Made Law

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  1. I don’t even give a shit if Lauren Lapkus ain’t in it.

  2. Boring to me too, KL, boring, yet I keep renting them, struggling through them in hope they will rekindle the original’s surprises and fun, and then forgetting them. I’ll probably rent this one too, and forget it too. I suppose if they were actually bad, I wouldn’t forget them so easily.

  3. Maybe it’s just part of getting older, but modern games and films seem more like people running down a checklist than entertainment.

    1. How else can you make an environmentally conscious, culturally sensitive, fully inclusive movie without following the ever expanding checklist? You might forget to include someone.

      And here you are worrying about unimportant things like good plot and dialogue.

    2. Same reason oldies stations play better music than the top 40 pop 40, or foreign films seem better than domestics: the filter of time or distance. The oldies station doesn’t play the flops except for laughs. Crap foreign movies don’t get subtitled/dubbed and exported.

      1. I like to call this “historical editing”, or just “forgetting the crap”. Good stuff stays around, crap gets forgotten. The further back in time you go, the greater the effect. I’m willing to bet Elizabethan England had its share of hacks and mediocrities, but it’s Shakespeare and Marlowe that get remembered. Judging by the surviving works, you’d think everyone in ancient Greece was a brilliant philosopher or artist, but the average ancient Greek was an illiterate, vermin-infested peasant.

        I do wonder what the effect of ever cheaper and bigger storage will have on this phenomenon going forward, though. When copying a book represented many hours of skilled labor, only the very best got reliably preserved. As the price of digital storage drops, I wonder how long it will take for crap to fade away. I suspect our current crap will remain extant for quite a while, although hopefully it will quickly become obscure.

        1. “historical editing”, or just “forgetting the crap”.

          Same thing is true about household appliances and other stuff people will claim that ‘they don’t make em like they used to’

          For every Maytag washer that ran for 30 years, or fridge that ran for 25 years, (and ignoring that those items probably had a repair or two done to them) there were dozens more that were lucky to make it to 10-15 years.

          1. I disagree on the appliances. The majority ran for longer; they didn’t start of selling you an extended warranty in the store with the shrink wrap still in place.

      2. And probably the same reason the movie channels, both cable and network, play the same movies over and over (let’s all watch “Goodfellas” one mo’ time!)

        1. After seeing Debbie Gibson on the Hallmark channel (mom was watching) recently, I wondered how much of the “80s hits” we have on radio are due to popular demand, and how many are due to backroom deals and there like (not saying hey music was great, but I remember it being in heavy rotation for a while, but it’s never on the 80s stations now… Sure there are other examples).

          Is it qualityy or other outside factors that let things stand the test of time?

    3. Nope it’s called “archetype” and “popcorn flicks” . I seen a lot of old movies, old man, and they aren’t a bit less derivative than modern movies. Humans have been telling the same stories for thousands of years. As soon as people realize that, the easier it is to enjoy a movie, story, or novel.

  4. At this point, there’s really only one thing left to do with the franchise . . .

    Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator, Superman vs. Batman, Jurassic Park vs. Pirates of the Caribbean.

    1. Godzilla vs. Jurassic Kingdom

      Fire breather, bitches!

      1. What the hell’s Mothra, chopped liver?

        1. They are actually doing a Kong vs. Godzilla movie which will feature Mothra and a few more monsters in 2020. It’s building off the recent Kong and Godzilla movies. I didn’t like the Godzilla one, but thought the Kong Skull Island movie was pretty good.

          1. I didn’t mind the last Godzilla movie (I assume you’re talking about the one with Brian Cranston from a few years ago). It was way better than that turd rom the late 90’s staring Ferris Buehler. Admittedly a very low bar though. Although it wasn’t exactly very memorable. There were no snappy lines of dialogue to quote or anything like that, but it checked off the basics of what one would expect from a Godzilla movie: namely Godzilla fighting a bunch of other Kaijus while knocking over skyscrapers and shit.

            I agree Skull Island was surprisingly pretty good though. I expected it to suck ass and was pleasantly surprised. I think that’s the key to enjoying movies: keep your expectation low, that way anything that isn’t MST3K level bad seems really good.

      2. You’re kidding right? Godzilla is 300 feet tall and breathes radioactive fire. They couldn’t handle a volcano, let alone Godzilla.

    2. For the fate of the multiverse!

    3. I got it. When Solo launches into hyperspace he actually goes back in time and confronts the dinosaurs, only to find that Obi-wan has gotten there first and with Darth Vader and Luke has carved out an enclave for over-the-hill Jedi Knights.

  5. “Yes it ended very badly every time before, but, we will get it right this time because the Right People are in charge”.

    Remind you of anything?

    1. Service at the Red Hen?

  6. Didn’t John Hammond lease Isla Nublar from Costa Rica? And now it turns out it has a dormant volcano on it that n-o-b-o-d-y knew about?

    Maybe the next movie could be a legal drama, “Jurassic Court.”

    1. Jeff Goldblum screaming “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH” into a microphone would be an excellent meme for my collection.

      1. I’m not sure Jeff Goldblum is physically capable of screaming.

        1. “You, uh, can’t handle the, um, truth.”

  7. My own childhood was not rich in dinosaur consciousness: I never had any dinosaur books or dinosaur toys or any of the other dinosaur merch that I know attends the dinosaur phenomenon.

    Oh my god. Is it too late to charge your parents with neglect?

    1. Might I remind you how old Kurt is?

      1. He didn’t have dinosaur toys. He just had dinosaurs.

        1. That’s actually pretty good…

  8. Jurassic World was one of the worst movies in recent memory. Why it made so much money is totally beyond me, and I’m not at all against summer blockbuster popcorn flicks. I have no doubt this will be worse and I won’t even watch in a long plane ride.

    I can still get lost in Bryce Dallas Howard’s eyes, though.

    1. That’s Jessica Chastain.

      1. Puke.

    2. Why it made so much money is totally beyond me

      Because “Produced by Steven Spielberg” and “Starring Chris Pratt,” that’s why.

  9. Apropos of nothing, I recently re-watched Iron Man, which I had stubbornly claimed to still be my favorite Marvel movie of all. (It’s not after the re-watch.) Mostly though, I was struck by how impossible that movie would have been to make and market in the post #MeToo world. The Tony Stark in those first two installments was a pussy-grabber if ever there was one.

    Now he just wants to get geriatric-pregnant with Pepper.

  10. “I never had any dinosaur books or dinosaur toys or any of the other dinosaur merch that I know attends the dinosaur phenomenon.”

    Oh no! I still have all of my childhood dinosaurs which my son now plays with, along with a pile of new ones. More charismatic animals there are not.

    Mosasaurus, while not a dinosaur, was the most bad-ass Cretaceous animal.

  11. The screenplay has no wit, and therefore no good lines (unless you count the scene in which one character calls another a “nasty woman”?which is basically weak feminist gesturing, and not the only instance of it).

    Ugh. Thanks for the warning.

  12. I saw it. Had great special effects, yes. But the plot was just bad.

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