The original Jurassic World encompasses everything I hate about modern cinema. I’ve always been of the mind that I’d rather a film be outlandishly terrible than aggressively mediocre. Mix in the fact that it’s just an excuse to cash-in on familiar iconography rather than a genuine artistic endeavor, add in the complete disregard for interesting characters or filmmaking, and top it off with an overreliance on unconvincing, soulless CGI and you have a final product destined to be despised by me. All of that being said, this film makes Jurassic World look like a work of art.
Honestly though, what were we expecting? This is the fifth Jurassic Park film. It is my opinion that the original Jurassic Park is a near-perfect adventure and each subsequent installment remains nothing more than a waste of time. You see, the very concept that the entire franchise is predicated on is perfect for a single contained story and is simply incapable of sustaining any mileage after that. Especially considering the fact that the filmmakers seem allergic to trying anything new. There were many moments in this film that could have been exciting but were seemingly identical to tricks pulled in its predecessors. A dinosaur is about to attack but OH! It’s been eaten by a bigger dinosaur-but wait-an EVEN BIGGER dinosaur ate that one. It was when the heroes of this film cowered behind a piece of furniture to hide from a raptor that I simply gave up. I just don’t understand why we have to keep going back to this well if it truly is void of any new ideas. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do know why we keep going back. (It rhymes with schmoney).
It really is a shame that this product came out so dismally dull. Juan Antonio Bayona, the director, is one of our most promising talents at the moment. He is the mind behind some of the most impressive genre films of the past ten years: 2007’s horror phenom The Orphanage, and 2012’s tsunami epic The Impossible. It makes sense why they’d pick Bayona, as Fallen Kingdom is kind of an amalgamation of those two ideas: a haunted house and a grand-scale disaster flick. The only difference being that here Bayona is being bogged down by some very burdensome factors. For one thing, Colin Trevorrow’s script is absolutely pathetic. There are almost no attempts at characterization in the entire screenplay, and many of the character’s choices are almost laughably moronic. But probably the biggest hindrance to the film’s chances at any kind of emotion or genuine stakes is that the computer-generated dinosaurs present in these new films are blindingly lifeless. I simply cannot find it in me to get invested in these boring, plastic monsters, and the human characters surrounding them are somehow even worse. It’s not that CGI is inherently detached, Bayona himself was able to find palpable pathos in a giant tree in 2016’s A Monster Calls. But really with these big studio products, the directors are operating with both hands tied behind their backs.
I don’t intend to be rude, but this film does not have a single performance of substance. Chris Pratt I guess is trying, but the character of Owen is so paper-thin it might as well have been portrayed by a talking action figure. Bryce Dallas Howard is an actress I have found serviceable in the past, but she is genuinely terrible in this film. Granted she is given awful material, but she doesn’t even try to give it any weight. James Cromwell is hanging around in there too, but as a testament to how forgettable these films are, I couldn’t remember if he was in any of the previous Jurassics. He’s not, apparently, so I have no earthly idea why we should care about his character. The closest thing to a flicker of light is Justice Smith, the kid from Paper Towns and the comic relief in this picture, but even he got to be tiresome after a while.
But you know what, in this kind of movie, it is possible to be persuaded to overlook flimsy characters as long as the action is good. Guess what? It’s not. Probably the greatest insult of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is how insufferably boring it is. Really, every set piece is seemingly endless, with rubber effects and horrible editing to create half-hearted pastiches of excitement. The film’s big selling point is this painfully long sequence with a bunch of dinosaurs running out of the jungle that was so poorly constructed and so lazily animated, I actually began to feel my will to live escaping among the apatosauruses. Honestly, don’t go see this film. There are only two circumstances in which I can see this being worth the price of admission. First: If you thought one film in which the tension is predicated around scientists genetically combining the two most dangerous dinosaurs wasn’t enough and you just had to see them resurrect the same plotline. Or secondly: If you had been sentenced by a higher power to spend two hours reflecting upon the ennui of the modern world.
All images are from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a Universal Studios Product