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Josh Reviews Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I saw Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom well over a month ago, but I’ve avoided writing about it until now because my basic reaction to the movie can be boiled down mostly to:

Ugh.

I had a bad feeling about this film from the very first trailer.  I love the original Jurassic Park, and ever since that movie (which was released way back in 1993), I’ve been hoping (in vain) for a good sequel.  I didn’t care much for The Lost World or Jurassic Park III.  I was excited to see the series relaunched with Jurassic World, but while that movie was visually impressive and had a terrific cast, I thought it pretty much stunk.  And so I didn’t have high hopes for a Jurassic World sequel, but I dared to hope that a different director (J. A. Bayona replaced Colin Trevorrow) could do something better with this franchise and these strong actors.

Nope.  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is worse than Jurassic World, and is, to me, the low point for this franchise.

As the movie opens, we learn that the Jurassic Park island, Isla Nublar, is apparently home to an active volcano that threatens to explode and wipe out all of the dinosaurs.  Just pause a moment to chew on that ludicrous idea.  So, you’re saying that the companies behind the original Jurassic Park, and the enormous multi-bazillion-dollar costing Jurassic World theme park we saw in the last film, built those parks on an island with an active VOLCANO???  That is the most insane, ludicrous idea in this entire movie series about cloned dinosaurs repeatedly running amok.  This concept makes clear that the people making this movie do not care one whit for telling a story with any intelligence or plot sense.  That realization immediately shut me off to this film.  This story set-up is staggeringly insulting to the audience.  And the film doesn’t get any better from there.

Turns out our main heroes, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt), are going on a rescue mission to save the dinosaurs from their exploding island.  This immediately makes these two main characters look even more idiotic than they did in the previous film (in which, for example, Owen demonstrated the hubris of the villains of every other Jurassic Park film, thinking he could tame and control velociraptors).  Every previous Jurassic Park film has emphasized the dangers of allowing dinosaurs to escape from the island.  So why is this now a good idea here in this movie?  Heck, even in this very movie, Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm returns in a cameo to make clear that allowing the dinosaurs loose is a terrible idea!!  The film tries in … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Jurassic World

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I was excited when I first heard about Jurassic World.  I absolutely adore the first Jurassic Park.  I think it’s one of Steven Spielberg’s very best films.  (Click here for my thoughts on Jurassic Park’s 3-D re-release, and here for an earlier review when I was re-watching various middle-career Spielberg films.)  I love the world of that film so much that every time I re-watch it, it continues to leave me hungry for further exploration of that world.  Neither of the two sequels satisfied me (I think The Lost World is one of the worst films Steven Spielberg has ever made, and I like Jurassic Park III a lot but feel it ends much too abruptly — it’s a solid film missing the last twenty minutes).  This makes Jurassic Park a franchise I am eager to see additional sequels to, because I want to see another great Jurassic Park movie and I haven’t yet.

When I read that they were returning to this series after more than a decade away, I was excited because I thought for sure that meant they had a new idea for this series, a way to better the two mediocre sequels we’d already gotten.

Unfortunately I was wrong, they had exactly the same idea.

One of the inherent problems with all three Jurassic Park sequels is that they have all, basically, told exactly the same story as the first film.  This latest sequel, Jurassic World, is in fact the closest in structure to that first film, in that it’s about a theme park of dinosaurs where the dinosaurs get loose.

But I’ve seen that story already.  And each of these re-tellings — including this latest, Jurassic World — just wind up being a pale shadow of that first film.

On a superficial level, there are a lot of things to like about Jurassic World.  The film certainly looks great.  There are some gorgeous visual effects, and some really wonderful sequences of dinosaur mayhem.  I like the idea of the twist on the original film that while that park was still under construction, the park we see in Jurassic World is a fully-operational, top-of-the-line theme park that is open for business.  I love the design of the park and its rides and everything we see of John Hammond’s original vision come to life as an actual theme park island.  That is all very cool.

But the problem with Jurassic World is that the characters are both incredibly, unbelievably, jaw-droppingly stupid or totally flat and uninteresting, or both.  The magic of that first Jurassic Park was its wonderful characters.  Within the framework of an exciting adventure story were interesting, fun, complex characters … [continued]