Kevin: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” begins by posing an interesting philosophical question: with the dinosaurs on the island of Isla Nubar about to be destroyed by an active volcano, should we intervene to save these dangerous and unpredictable creatures? Or, as Jeff Goldblum advocates to a Congressional committee, should we just let nature take its course?
Obviously everyone agrees with Jeff and the movie is over after five minutes, right? I mean for one thing, these are not god’s creatures, they were genetically made and manipulated in a lab. And second, THEY’RE FUCKING DINOSAURS who have numerous times in the past shown the ability to break free of whatever man-made constraints are placed upon them and kill a lot of people. Seriously what idiot could possibly think it’s a good idea to save these creatures from extinction?
(Major spoilers to follow)
Well I give you Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire, who after the events of “Jurassic World” is now a militant dinosaur-rights activist. Why? Beats me! I went back and watched some game film (i.e. the last movie), and there is nothing in there that would indicate this kind character development. She is introduced as your typical corporate ice queen, whose only concern for the dinosaurs is how she can make money off them. There is a scene where she sheds a single tear for a dino that has been killed by the “Indominus Rex,” but it’s the same reaction she would probably have if she saw a squirrel hit by a car. Otherwise I’m not sure how she acquired this deep devotion to the creatures she spent the entire last movie fleeing in mortal terror from, but as we will see, having characters make extremely baffling and nonsensical decisions is par for the course for this movie.
(Also, I’m not sure how she has time for all this dinosaur advocacy since she should probably be tied up in court with hundreds of lawsuits considering she, you know, ran the park that failed on every level to protect its guests from getting killed by her dinosaurs.)
Either way, her PETD (People for the Ethical Treatment of Dinosaurs) group includes a dinosaur veterinarian, who angrily corrects someone by saying her title is something like “paleophysician,” although maybe she should be a little less condescending considering her job isn’t real and she probably has $100,000 in student loan debt since she complains she can’t afford to actually see the dinosaurs she’s spent her life learning how to treat. There is also a computer expert, who is the only other type of computer expert in movies outside of “super hot chick”: nerdy guy who we are supposed to laugh at when he has the kind of terrified reaction to dinosaurs that people would actually have in the real world.
We do get to see Claire in action, as she manages to sway a senator who is on the fence about what to do about the dinosaurs by asking, “Do you have children?” Claire then says that her children’s generation has only grown up knowing a world with dinosaurs, and apparently this nakedly emotion-based pitch convinces the senator on the spot. Although (spoiler alert), thanks to Claire this senator’s kids will now be the first generation to live in a world where they will probably be eaten by dinosaurs before their 10th birthday.
Thankfully, Washington goes with the “fuck ‘em” option regarding the dinosaurs, but there is still hope for Claire to doom us all! Apparently John Hammond had a heretofore unknown partner named Lockwood who wants to get the dinosaurs off Isla Nubar and on to a specially designed sanctuary island. Since he is played by James Cromwell, his character could go either way when it comes to being good or evil, but he does have an obviously untrustworthy assistant named Eli who fills the usual “guy who’s bad because he has a Harvard business degree” role in the “Jurassic” movies. So Eli recruits Claire, who then recruits her former boyfriend Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to use his dino-wrangling skills for their mission.
We then get the scene where Claire reconnects with Owen, and honestly the most suspenseful part of the movie was worrying whether, as with their first meet-up in the original “Jurassic World,” there would be anything in this scene that would offend the delicate feminist sensibilities of Joss Whedon, who as he constantly makes sure to remind us, is a strong advocate for women when he is not cheating on his wife or sleeping with “needy” and “aggressive” actresses. I haven’t seen any hysterical tweets yet from Joss, maybe because he was confused by the fact that Owen is introduced using his hands for something other than tweeting or getting touchy with an actress playing one of his usual empowered badass female archetypes. In this case Owen’s macho bonafides are established by showing him building a really crappy looking cabin all by himself, not unlike Gene Hackman in “Unforgiven.”
(By the way, in case you were wondering, Claire sports hiking boots in this one rather than the high heels in “Jurassic World,” which was declared sexist and offensive by the kind of people who declare that about everything. Although having watched the last one again, I’m not sure what Claire was supposed to do. She wasn’t wearing stilettos, she actually had a pretty wide heel, so it was better than walking barefoot through jungle terrain. Also, considering every actress in one of these movies has to describe their characters as “badass,” I would say running from dinosaurs in high heels is a lot more realistically badass than Scarlett Johansson beating up dudes as a Japanese robot.)
Claire then tries to convince him to come along on a mission to an island which could blow up at any moment, to save some dinosaurs who will also be trying to kill them at the same time, by reminding him that his pet velociraptor Blue, who he hasn’t seen in many years and probably will eat his face off the first chance he gets, is also on the island. Owen responds as any of us would: “Who cares?” And thus Chris Pratt’s role in this film is over, right? Nope, because I went to take a piss and when I got back he was on a helicopter headed to Isla Nubar.
Before I go further I have to vent about something that drives me crazy about all these sequels. Now Isla Nubar is an island filled with dinosaurs, and if even one of them gets off the island it would be catastrophic. Yet apparently it’s easier to get into this thing than the actual “Jurassic Park” attraction at Universal Studios. Wouldn’t the United States at least have several warships stationed off it at all times, or if nothing else a drone overhead to monitor it?
I can’t build a fence on my property over 10 feet without some fascist fuck from the Code Department pulling up in his Smart Car, yet apparently you can just drive a boat on up to this place and help yourself to some dinosaurs and no one will stop you. The movie even begins with some guys opening an underwater gate and accidentally letting out a giant prehistoric shark, so I guess Jason Statham is gonna have to kill that one too!
Either way, Owen and Claire get to the island and meet up with a group of mercenaries, and I can’t decide if I admire that the movie doesn’t even try to hide the fact that these guys are up to no good, since their leader is played by Ted Levine. Although, why are mercenaries always de facto bad guys in movies? Technically they are former soldiers, so apparently when these guys are getting shot at in some dusty shithole for no pay they are heroes, but as soon as they try to use their training in the private sector to support their families they are now evil? You know who else were mercenaries? The real-life guys portrayed in “13 Hours.” Maybe if John Krasinski had played the head merc in this instead of Buffalo Bill from “Silence of the Lambs,” his character turn would have been more surprising.
Either way, while I was worried that “Fallen Kingdom” was going to be a virtual remake of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” where we are supposed to care about the well-being of a bunch of morons who are trying to save the creatures who want them dead, the time on the island is pretty limited. Claire and Owen are inevitably double-crossed, but are able to sneak on to the boat carrying the dinosaurs before the volcano takes everything down. I almost laughed out loud when everyone turns around and sees a lone dinosaur still stuck on the dock, mainly because the movie treats this with more tragic pathos than anything in “Schindler’s List.”
When we get back to the mainland we find out the shocking twist none of us saw coming: rather than saving the dinosaurs out of the goodness of his heart, Eli is going to make money off of them as weapons, a plot device so original it has only been done in every third sci-fi movie involving deadly creatures, including “Jurassic World,” in which Vincent D’Onofrio envisioned sending velociraptors into Tora Bora against al Qaeda. Although I would have loved if his version of a dinosaur army meant equipping the raptors with helmets, Kevlar, and AR-15s.
In this case Eli is auctioning off the dinos to an assortment of warlords, oligarchs, pharmaceutical companies, and at least one guy who looks like a Texas oil baron. There have got to be at least 80 people at this thing, and some of these guys even brought along dates. How did Eli get them all here, did he mail an engraved invitation or send a mass text? And did he specifically allow them to bring a +1? I’d think you’d want to keep the number of people who know about this to a minimum, but what do I know.
Then we start the auction, and one dinosaur goes for like $10 million. That’s it! Jesus, considering a 1962 Ferrari GTO sold for $40 million at an auction in 2014, maybe Eli should have invited some higher rollers. Also, how is this Russian oligarch going to get his new dinosaur back to his country, and how long will it be before his or some other government captures or kills it in the name of national security?
After this I can’t decide what I found stupider, Ted Levine opening up the “Indoraptor” cage for no fucking good reason, Blue outrunning an explosion like John McClane, Claire actually considering releasing the dinosaurs into northern California and Owen just going along with whatever she decided, or Jeff Goldblum staring into the camera and saying “Welcome to Jurassic World.”
Either way, the movie ends with the dinosaurs about to test the limits of the term “sanctuary state,” while the movie teases a future in which dinosaurs devour douchey Californians who otherwise would be moving to Austin. Wait, forget everything I just said, “Jurassic World 2” is officially my favorite movie in the entire series, and maybe my favorite movie of all time!
CJ: You can make fun all you want, but you obviously have forgotten about the awesome Dino Riders toys and TV show from the ‘80s. So this plot is entirely plausible! In fact, I’d go as far to say that “Fallen Kingdom” is the prequel to that!
Second, Kevin, you laughed at that dying Brontosaurus because you are nothing short of a monster! I felt for him. How would you feel if all these greedy American swine came in, abducted all your pals, looked at you and were like “hard pass dick neck!”? If it were me, you’re damn well right I’d chase you down and make you watch as I die a horrible death. I hope that Bronto haunts their dreams and then their ghosts – the ghosts they apparently will turn into about two days later.
There’s a lot of dumb stuff happening in this movie, but you’ve missed what are by far the two dumbest plot points. Over what must be several months, Eli has constructed a giant underground Bond villain lair to hold dozens of dinosaurs who, to varying degrees, seemingly cause mini localized earthquakes as they stomp around. These dinos are then shown off via an elaborate Jamiroquai-type airport people-mover. This ALSO means that a large amount of super rich people have shown up, at night, in their cars, which have their headlights flashing all over the place. I am also assuming the dinosaurs are not sitting around reading the paper and probably roar. Now, it’s established pretty early on that James Cromwell never leaves his rich man mansion. So, how the fuck does this man not notice ANY OF THIS?
And second, if this old man is so unaware of dinosaurs stomping around, why didn’t Eli just embezzle? I’m pretty sure if ol’ Jimmy doesn’t hear dinosaurs roaring every 12 seconds, he’s probably not going to notice his balance sheet.
Kevin: Yeah I know old man Cromwell was wheelchair-bound and not exactly making the rounds every day at his giant mansion, but are you telling me that at no point did he, his granddaughter, or the nanny not notice when they were putting down tracks and a pulley system for the giant cages they were bringing into his dining room? If nothing else I would have suspected something was up when I started hearing the ranchero music that would have been blasted by the guys putting all this together. Either way, thanks again Claire for dooming us all!