Fallen Kingdom indeed. If you’re considering seeing the latest Jurassic World movie, do yourself a favor and flush that $13 down the toilet instead. There’s maybe 15 minutes of Fallen Kingdom’s 130-minute runtime that is almost, kind of watchable. The rest is some of the most embarrassing tentpole bullshit this side of a Transformers movie. Hackneyed dialogue, a shamelessly uncreative and entirely predictable plot, awful acting, boring characters, and zero memorable set pieces to distract from all the awfulness, Fallen Kingdom sets an incredibly low bar for the once beloved dino series, delivering an abomination of blockbuster filmmaking that makes one wish for a meteorite to strike their local theater and wipe its nasty existence clean from this Earth.
If Fallen Kingdom is proof of anything it’s that this franchise should never have been brought back to life. For if this is the kind of storytelling we get with our onscreen dinosaurs, they were better off extinct. This lame sequel resurrects the entirely forgettable heroes from the last installment in Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, neither of whom do anything worthy of note here; him squinting in an attempt to smolder, her running and squeaking as dinos pursue; both forced to omit dialogue so shamelessly expository or numb-skulled you’d think it were written by a pachycephalosauria charging a keyboard.
The two bone-headed blandsandwich heroes have been summoned by James Cromwell’s dying philanthropic dino-benefactor (and former partner to John Hammond) to save the ex-extinct survivors on Isla Nublar when the whole of their island is threatened by a pending extinction-level volcanic event. Joined by badass paleobiologist Zia (Daniella Pineda, the only character you don’t want to see consumed alive, screaming as her flesh is torn to ribbons by the gnash of a jumbo carnivore’s maw), and nerdy, fearful, grating-as-can-be tech specialist Franklin (Justice Smith, a character you pray is eaten in exactly the way described above), this special unit of stupid abscond to the island to rescue as many of the not-so-gentle giants as they can. Little thought is put into the not getting eaten component.
If this sounds at all foolhardy, you ain’t heard nothing yet. With the former park in ruins, dinosaurs from the imposing Brachiosaurus to the apex predator Tyrannosaurus roam without boundaries. And yet, our crew of sheroes stomps through the jungle on foot, armed with tranq guns that only manage to put a human down for a quick nap. We’re lead to believe that because Pratt’s Mr. Blah Whathisname once trained a particularly empathetic velociraptor named “Blue” that him tramping through the dino-infested bush without a lick of backup is not a suicide mission. If only we were that lucky.
I’m unhappy to report that things get exceedingly worse. There’s the moment where Ms. Lady (honestly I can’t remember any of these characters names – they are the human equivalent of white bread with the crust cut off) rides atop a T-Rex, a scene where a raptor is given a blood transfusion wherein we’re supposed to root for a successful post-op (because Fallen Kingdom manages to make the Dinosaur Kingdom’s most fearful predator into some wimpy, loyal, beta-pet), and an opulent auction where rich idiots bid on prized acquisitions (Toby Jones conducts the auction with the oddest lick of southern twang because I don’t think anyone cares about anything in this movie so why not?)
A rehashed miasma of prior installments, the plot of Fallen Kingdom is – like Cromwell’s character within – on life support. This piss-poor fivequel clones the Lost World’s “take the dinos off the island” conceit, managing to somehow make that disappointing sequel look like a bonafide Oscar winner. Even though I’ve long ragged on Lost World’s lesser moments (gymnastic raptor kick = not for the win), Spielberg displayed some of his finest skills as a set piece composer within that film. The trailer scene featuring a wounded Wee-Rex and his aggressor parents is tension personified and a monstrously thrilling bit of action spectacle. There is not one moment in Fallen Kingdom that sticks out as memorable, that feels urgent and sweat-inducing, not one set piece that thrilled me, swept me off my feet, or suspended the disbelief that I’m watching CG creations stomp, roar and swallow while overpaid Hollywood actors prance around a green screen.
The film is quite frankly an embarrassment for everyone involved. Director J.A. Bayona has proven directorial chops in the past, eliciting closed-set tension in The Orphanage and capturing moments of high emotion in with rollicking computer animation in A Monster Calls. His work here is cheap, feckless. This is the opposite of passion project. A copy of a copy of a copy, it’s xeroxed nothingness. Paint by numbers filmmaking working from a DOA script courtesy of Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow. Everything arrives as lowest common denominator hooey; dialogue intended for ESL learners, action spectacle sanitized of actual impact, characters you wish gruesome deaths upon. Even Michael Giacchino’s score is a lame carbon copy. This movie has nothing to say except perhaps a shrieky and didactic “Animal Have Rights” micro-thesis and something jumbled about genetic manipulation and the military and clones and a slippery slope. As Wolf of Wall Street‘s Mark Hanna famously opined, “Faguzzi, fugazzi, it’s a whazzie, it’s a whoozie.. it’s fairy dust.” Whoever wrote this seemed to have gotten into a pinch too much fairy dust.
Even the inclusion of Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm is a cheap ruse, if not an all-around fake-out, his screen-time bookending the film in what couldn’t have taken more than a catering-filled afternoon to film. At the very least, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom offers a brief respite from characters speaking, the aforementioned 15-ish minute watchable segment, where it submits to silence; humans slinking, dinos stalking. In that cherish break from the “written word”, a semblance of what this Jurassic World could have been comes to fruition and is quickly wiped from existence.
CONCLUSION: The thrill of dinosaurs invading our cineplexes has gone extinct with the mind-numbing ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’, a braindead, lifeless, excitement-bereft, apocalypse of a movie. Cannon fodder characters, prehistoric dialogue and a total lack of inventive set pieces make this a shameful disaster cash-in to be avoided at all costs.