Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Geraldine Chaplin, B.D. Wong and Jeff Goldblum
screenplay by Dereck Connolly and Colin Trevorrow
directed by J.A. Bayona
As with Solo - A Star Wars Story, I saw Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at the TOHO Cinema in Ebina City, Kanagawa Prefecture because I happened to be there on a weekend for a part-time job and it was convenient to indulge my impulse at the nearby theater.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the sequel to Jurassic World (2015). It is the fifth installment of the Jurassic Park film series, as well as the second installment of a planned Jurassic World trilogy. Set on the fictional Central American island of Isla Nublar, off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, it follows Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Callas Howard) as they rescue the remaining dinosaurs on the island before a volcanic eruption destroys it. Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, B.D. Wong and Jeff Goldblum reprise their roles from previous films in the series.
The Jurassic series has descended into repetitive stupidity like so many other movies. Why does Hollywood do these movie sequels? It’s because of the economics of TV and film. These days a TV series or a movie HAVE TO make a profit IMMEDIATELY! Making a sequel of a successful movie is the best bet to achieve it. And, if one sequel is successful, then more must be. I was enjoying the dinosaur movies up until 2015’s Jurassic World. Jurassic World stretched my tolerance. But I did not enjoy Fallen Kingdom, which has repeated the same story line as The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) which starred Jeff Goldblum as chaos theoretician Dr. Malcolm, but did not feature my favorite character, paleontologist Dr. Grant (Sam Neill).
Parallels between 1997 and 2018: the capitalist park operators from the previous films (Jurassic Park -The Lost World , Jurassic World - Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ) have grown into environmentalists who now think they are saving the animals from the other bad capitalists. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) was always a twit, and I never liked him. In The Lost World the bad capitalists are led by Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard), John Hammond’s conniving nephew whose plan is to capture and return the dangerous animals to mainland U.S.A. In Fallen Kingdom the bad capitalists are led by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), the conniving personal assistance to John Hammond’s old partner in developing the technology to clone dinosaurs, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), whose plan is to capture as many of the dangerous animals as possible from the doomed island and return them to the mainland and sell them at auction to anyone - arms dealers, mostly, who seem to think they can weaponize the animals and control them as a weapon delivery systems on the battlefield. Lockwood is a new character created to fill out the backstory to enable the plot. But I don’t appreciate creating stuff like that retroactively.
Fallen Kingdom features another great mercenary/hunter, Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine) who parallels Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) in 1993, and Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite) 1997. Of those three characters, Roland Tembo is by far the best. Robert Muldoon is competent, Roland Tembo is a genuine tough guy, and Ken Wheatley is just a jerk.
B.D. Wong reappears as geneticist Dr. Henry Wu. Dr. Wu is one of the best characters. Each time he appears he is more evil and megalomaniacal than before. Dr. Wu never says anything that’s not about the DNA-saving laboratory techniques used to fashion dinosaurs, and with each appearance in the series what he says is more and more evil. Dr. Wu is the monster behind the childishly moronic folly of John Hammond.
The film is too lazy to even bother with the modest housekeeping of explaining its characters’ motives. Like its predecessor, Fallen Kingdom is overstuffed with ethical conundrums, and not sophisticated enough to fully engage with them ... the movie's villains become such cartoony caricatures that it's impossible to take Fallen Kingdom's attempted philosophical musings - typically from the mouth of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Malcolm - serious.
Steven Spielberg’s original dinosaur conception was great and well executed. But after twenty-five years people - film makers and audiences - are just stupid over anything T. rex-related. Enough already.
I’ve seen Charlie Chaplin’s daughter, Geraldine, in other films but I never paid her much attention until this film. I saw her and I thought, “Who is that woman?”
Here’s a serious problem with the film. It looks like the director has deliberately reverted to 1993 technology, before the Internet, social media and iphones! Here we are on the mainland, there is dinosaur trouble left right and center, but the good guys - Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), presumably - don’t even have an iphone. Not even an old cell phone to call the police! As all dino hell is breaking loose I kept thinking ‘Why doesn’t someone call the police? Who has an iphone?’ Nobody.