06.22.2018

HUB REVIEW: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom [Mild Spoilers]

HUB REVIEW: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom [Mild Spoilers]

By Michael P Coleman

“Do you remember when you first saw a dinosaur?”  It’s a question Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Claire Dearing, asks in the new Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I remember.  It was twenty five years ago, as I watched the original Jurassic Park.  That 1993 film unforgettably married wonder with terror, and was one of the first movies to seamlessly integrate CGI with live action.  Jurassic Park was a sensation, a movie franchise was born, and the film cleaned up at the box office. 

This new one will, too.  It’ll have a good first weekend, at least.  But the steam’s running out of this train.  A better title might have been Jurassic World: Flailing Franchise

One of the issues with any sequel, let alone a fifth installment, is setting up a premise that the audience can actually get behind.  OK, fine, we’ve already suspended belief to get behind genetically re-engineered dinosaurs.  But it’s our fifth time at the rodeo, and I just wasn’t buying the premise that was established in the film’s first few minutes:  three years after the events of Jurassic World, Claire and Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt) set out to save the dinosaurs from extinction. 

This film’s dino-protagonist is yet another genetically engineered beast.  If you thought the last film’s Indominous Rex was a wonder, wait until you see…wait for it…the Indo-Raptor!  You get the picture: scarier.  Toothier.  But it all seemed like ground we’ve travelled before, in at least a couple of movies that were better.

Owen’s smirk is getting as tired as some of this franchise’s CGI shots.  Maybe my eyes are going, but it almost seemed that the filmmakers shot their wad on the Indo-Raptor and left a handful of the other dinosaur shots looking somewhat like stop-motion animation.  I almost chucked when one of the beasts lumbered off a la 1933’s King Kong

There’s a great shot in the film depicting an extinction event that unabashedly yanks on the heartstrings.  And the movie’s third act, when the new Indo-Raptor really preps for dinner, is a wild ride that is fun to watch on a big screen.  But one of the biggest nail-biting scenes didn’t involve a dinosaur at all, and in a Jurassic Park movie, that’s a problem.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a few scenes that were derivative of segments in past Jurassic Park movies.  It features other scenes that are shout-outs to classic films like Superman: The Movie, E.T., The Shining, and even From Here To Eternity.  But maybe that was just my mind racing to find interest in a film that just wasn’t interesting. 

This movie introduced a couple of new characters that I wouldn’t mind seeing again, and one of them was surprisingly brown, which revealed another of my issues with this franchise: Jurassic World is Woefully White.  The series kicked off with Samuel L. Jackson kicking the bucket, and in the second movie Ian Malcolm had a heroic African American daughter, but after Steven Spielberg relinquished the director’s chair, Jurassic World’s dinosaurs have been served almost exclusively white meat. 

There’s a new child in this chapter, ‘cause we know by now that the tried and true way to up the ante when dinosaurs are on the loose is to toss a kid into the mix.  There’s an after-credits scene that’s a bit of a snoozer.  Even Blue, the raptor who surprisingly charmed audiences in 2015’s Jurassic World, kinda bored me in this one, even when she was facing death and needed a blood transfusion. 

So does this Fallen Kingdom.  Let’s hope Spielberg swoops in to save the day with the next installment. 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is in theaters everywhere. 

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.