Jurassic World:Fallen Kingdom
I'm going to start off with saying something positive, because, as many of us were taught before Twitter, if you don't have something nice to say, maybe you shouldn't say anything at all. Of course, now that Twitter HAS happened, you can say all the nasty stuff you want without any form of repercussion. But still, I'll play by the old ways. So here's my nice thing: I hope that Colin Trevorrow is a very good person. I'm nearly sure he must be, because there is little else to explain his success, but still, I'm sure he's a very nice person. So he might always have that going for him.*
Great, now that that's out of the way, here are the rest of the things I have to say about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and even that can really boil down to one single phrase and that is, "it's actually terrible." But, much like the poor dinosaurs who didn't ask to be brought back to life for Earth's crappy tech phase, let's trudge on with something that amounts to an examination of just exactly why this movie is so unbearable.
My simplistic statement that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is terrible is not an exaggeration; that's just my own personal, cold, hard, locked-in-amber fact. In an odd twist of fate, it also turns out to be the movie that we deserve in this hate-fueled, fact-renouncing, all-hope-is-lost Trump era. Somehow, the movie I loved and still love dearly, the movie that changed so much, the movie that still holds up, the original (and some may now rightly claim, the only true) Jurassic Park, has given birth to a greedy millennial monster franchise determined to, not only fight the things it loves but also save the things it hates. It's all very confusing and horrifying on a philosophical level. This franchise has trekked all the way to the Great Valley, only to blow all that shit up and leave a burning brachiosaurus behind.
From the moment an ill-fated submersible descends to the depths of what was once the lake home of Jurassic World's Mosasaur, incomprehensible decisions lead to unfathomably depressing outcomes and it just continues in that cycle for more than two hours. It's like watching MSNBC every night, but this time with dinosaurs. The characters have the depth of printer paper, the action scenes work at 50% power and the nostalgic recreations of iconic scenes, restructured to fit our modern world, of course, turn from eye-rolling to nearly blasphemous in a surprisingly short amount of time. I mean literally one moment I was thinking "oh boy, raptors and doors" and the next moment all I could think was "don't you dare play John Williams' theme, you blasphemous dweebs".
And here is where I feel like I need to put up some defenses. I was looking forward to this movie (shame on me). I liked/defended Jurassic World. Yes, I'm here for the nostalgia, yes I'm here for a Jeep, yes I'm here for the T-Rex winning the day and yes, even in what surely are my moments of madness, I am here for a raptor named Blue who is, somehow, smarter than everyone else on the island and who should, by all rights, be the rightful successor to Oprah's media empire. I even defended the great Bryce Dallas Howard Shoe Debacle. In our house we just refer to it as the BDHSD, because we do debate it often.
After Jurassic World, I was of the opinion that Claire and Owen had a Kathleen Turner/Michael Douglas thing happening and, if you've ever loved Romancing The Stone the way I have, you know that not every woman is prepared with the right footwear when her adventure comes along, but the best ones always manage. I was hoping this movie would start to build on that, get back to the interesting questions that enamored so many people with the concept and re-set the path. To quote the perfect Tyra Banks gif, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, "I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU!" and maybe that's why this hurts so much.
This is a movie that takes glee in its own cruelty, removes the joy and the awe completely and skewers what it views as your dumb nostalgic hopes on the skull horns of a triceratops. Not only does this movie erase the wonder of dinosaurs, but the joy is so sparse that it very nearly feels like the movie equivalent of a home invader that looks you in the eye as he kisses your mom full on the lips and laughs; they're both something that happens simply because the perpetrator can. In this case, the film's perpetrator is one of the weakest scripts I've ever seen brought to the screen.
I guess I'll try to go chronologically through my understanding of this movie, but be warned, the rambling will only continue and the parentheses will only multiply as there's a lot that baffled me.
Here are my numbered questions, reactions, emotions (in order of appearance):
1. Why would anyone agree to go in a lake that had a Mosasaur in it just three years ago? You're clearly a well-funded outfit, do you not have any technology that could have scanned that lake? No, no, it's cool, leave the gate that leads to the ocean open (THAT WILL COME BACK AT THE END)
2. How did Claire end up starting a non-profit? She ran a multi-billion dollar resort into the ground. Martha Stewart got jail-time and an ankle-bracelet for knowing a stock would go up. But maybe love really does save everything. Or at least your two year relationship that apparently was mostly spent in a van is enough to propel you into Wildlife Sanctuary Service.
3.If you were trying for subtle, there MUST have been a different choice for Bad Guy #1 than Ted "Always Buffalo Bill" Levine.
4. Ok, you got me; puppy baby Blue IS adorable. But that's it, that's all I'm giving you
5. Future billionaires sure don't have to work very hard to plan their evil deeds, Why would anyone still believe that a multi-billionaire has your best intentions at heart by luring you to an abandoned dinosaur island for the one thing you desire most.
6. Paleo-Veterinarian is a very cool job title, but I'm sure it doesn't fit on business cards
7. OH HEY, THE BRACHIOSAUR SHOT FROM THE FIRST MOVIE...but with less awe and a disappointing score
8.I TOLD YOU, TED LEVINE SHOULD NEVER BE TRUSTED, NOT EVEN ON MONK
9. Oh god, please don't make me watch the creatures you've just told me are majestic, and that I've watched with wonder since I was 10 years old burn. Please don't make me watch them drown. Oh, welp, ok then, you did.
10. Dinosaur blood infusion makes total sense right now. I'm distraught, the park, the resort, the island, the dinos they're all dead. Just do what you want
11. Oh, cool, we're going to James Cromwell's house again. But is it Good James Cromwell the farmer from Babe or Bad James Cromwell, the turncoat detective in L.A. Confidential?
12. You know what's cooler than an island? A basement
13. Rafe Spall is the nerdy Ted Levine. Always evil, but with a hint of sadness about it. It must be because he's British
14. DINOSAURS ARE BEING AUCTIONED OFF AND HENRY WU, HOW DID YOU CREATE THE DINOSAURS BUT ARE ALSO THE DUMBEST HUMAN ON THE PLANET WITH A BROKEN MORAL COMPASS?
15. Wait, are we really just going to make this poor, imprisoned pachycephalosaurus the slapstick relief of this movie?
16. Toby Jones, well I know where this is going
17. That dinosaur just pushed the elevator button, with its tail
18. Dino-fight, mansion style
19. Wait...James Cromwell cloned humans? Oh we're just gonna gloss over that? ok
20. Are you gonna make me watch these animals die again? Even after you convinced me that we have to? I think it's ok now, like I've made peace with it, but Claire...don't push the button...ok, good, we're humans, we're saved...WHAT THE HECK CLONE BABY?
21. So now we're just living in Land of the Lost? NO ONE SHOULD BE SURFING IN THIS WORLD
I mean that's pretty much it. The movie goes from disappointing to upsetting, to infuriating and back often. And there really isn't anything to ground it. Let it be known, I blame no one for this mess except the screenwriters. Unfortunately, in an effort to, I don't know anymore, make people hate dinosaurs(?) make people hate the old (?) make people hate Millennials (?) they've forgone any interesting plot and bamboozled us with dino-driven slapstick, loose ends all over the place and sloppiness. If I had to guess, I would hope this was a spite-write for Trevorrow and Connolly. I hope they know that this movie is a mess and just want to see what they could get away with.
And trust me, I struggled with whether to bring my level of negativity to a film about dinosaurs. But the problem is, the film isn't about dinosaurs. It's not about people, it's not about anything really. It's just about as pointless as a movie can be without it being a movie that films the same spot on a wall for 7 hours. It's not only style over substance, it's a bombardment of nothing. I'm angry because the director, the actors, the special effects team, the production team, they all deserved better. And this is what we got. If I were to compare the Jurassic Park films to Italian Food, Jurassic Park would be Homemade pasta eaten with your grandmother on her balcony in Naples, Lost World and Pt. III are both Olive Gardens, but set in different towns, Jurassic World would be Fazzolis (palatable and satisfying, but not beloved) and somewhere, somewhere WAAAAAY down at the bottom of the list, there is a can of off-brand Chef Boyardee from 1986 that's got Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom written all over it.
There will be plenty of people who love it. Two dudes in my theater especially could not have loved it more. The middle-aged woman behind me simply stated "well, Blue lived". I don't know if there's a deeper meaning to that, but sure, Blue lives. And here we are now, on the verge of a sixth Jurassic Park movie that can finally and truly, jump the Mosasaurus. But I can't follow down the path anymore. I'm off the island for good. That sweet, sweet high I felt so long ago, and still feel when I watch that wondrous introduction to the Park in the first one, now only exists there. At least Jeff Goldblum got another paycheck though. He's truly our only national treasure. Our own Tyrannosaurus Rex, here to save us from the perils of not only Man's poor decisions, but dinosaur snuff films.
*In the event that Trevorrow is NOT a nice person, know that the rest of this piece, I stand by even more and it will serve as the vindication a petty person like me so richly needs and deserves.