To amend a quote from Dr. Alan Grant, Mr. Bayona, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your movie.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom just about lives up to every Jurassic sequel we’ve seen in the last 21 years. It thinks it’s saying important things and raising thought-provoking questions, when in reality, it’s showing lots of dinosaur action and destruction.
Given, when you’re watching a Jurassic movie, you don’t expect to see something Oscar worthy with amazing acting and great camerawork. You should be expecting a fairly solid summer blockbuster type of movie. Fallen Kingdom delivers on that front, but at the same time, there are some parts about it that are just too egregious to be that easily forgiven or thrown to the side.
This is a movie that has a real hard time figuring out what it wants to be and what messages it wants to send. At different points in the movie, it tries to be a straight up action/escape movie and it tries to send messages about animal cruelty/animal rights, human greed/black market selling, wildlife preservation, and the morality of cloning/genetic engineering. These are all important topics that could be explored, but none of them really land. The only message that has any legs is the same one that the franchise has been pushing since the beginning: life finds a way.
Towards the very beginning of the movie, we’re told (through a newscast, because they couldn’t be any more creative) that the volcano on Isla Nublar is active and almost ready to explode. This is where all the world’s dinosaurs live, so for them to survive, there would need to be a mission for their salvation. But most people think that this is God saying, “It’s time for the dinosaurs to end… again.”
At this point, one of the characters says about the dinosaurs, “They’re all gonna die and no one cares.” It seemed like that was the filmmakers talking about the Jurassic series before they went and attempted to show us why we should, indeed, still care.
But while it is trying to get us to care, it just begins to fall into the same tropes that the franchise has shown for four movies now.
Every Jurassic movie except for the first Jurassic World has an extended action sequence at night, while it is raining. This movie has two of those.
At least two of the others have a scene where the T-Rex saves the main characters from another dinosaur. They spoil this one in one of the trailers (also, I saw about three or four shots from the last 30 minutes in the trailers, and that infuriated me).
Also, this movie is probably the worst in the franchise when it comes to the Deus ex machina cliché. Time and time again, something or someone comes out of nowhere to save another character who is in a seemingly impossible situation. It had me throwing my arms in the air a couple different times.
Another thing that had me throwing my arms in the air was how often they felt like they needed to show a slow pan of the island, a slow zoom on a dinosaur, or a close up shot of Chris Pratt. Those are good as establishing shots and reveals, but it happened way too often.
Now, this movie wasn’t all bad. I actually had a really good time watching it, believe it or not. There’s something in me that enjoys watching dinosaurs fight and people escape from them or tame them. Especially when one of those people is played by Chris Pratt. He doesn’t seem to branch out very much in terms of the roles that he takes on, but it is very entertaining to watch him do his thing and be cute and fun. Like he is in real life…
Overall, though, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is just okay. If it had been able to keep its attention on one or maybe two themes, it would have seemed more focused and it would have been a tighter story. Since there really isn’t a lot of new territory for the franchise to explore, the ending was T-Rex-sized in scope and Compy-sized in substance.