Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom felt good. I suspect that it wasn't actually good, but it felt good nonetheless. And if there's something I want from a movie it's to make me feel something. Anything, really.

I'll sometimes cry in movies (and TV commercials) over "human interest" style plots. Sometimes. I will always cry about animals suffering. So that's probably why this movie made me feel things: the entire premise is "save the whales." Er, sorry, "save the dinosaurs." When the dinosaurs are running from the lava flow and jumping into the ocean to avoid it, I was very, very sad. When the Brachiosaurus is left on the dock and he's crying as the lava burns his feet and the boat is pulling away... I tell you what, I didn't actually cry but I felt real bad.

I actually liked the mixture of DINOSAURS and "other" in this movie. When I watched THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK one of my major complaints was that they had - in essence - forgotten that it was a movie about DINOSAURS. While Fallen Kingdom's plot is virtually entirely centered around a bad guy trying to sell dinosaurs for a profit to fund the next big genetic research venture, it manages to not lose it's sense of wonder over DINOSAURS, and that keeps the movie from being boring.

As usual, the film looks and sounds awesome. I'm confident it's not winning any awards for either (and I am right with the benefit of hindsight, since the movie came out in 2018), but you don't need to do too much in these aspects to make me happy.

Also as usual, the writing is mediocre. I actually think Dr. Wu (B.D. Wong) is given some of the best lines, but the script and screenplay here is not winning any awards.

As a person who is admittedly (read above) a sucker for animals, the JURASSIC WORLD thread where Blue is the good guy (if tenuous), makes me happy. As a person who wants to feel like my suspension of disbelief is warranted, any dinosaur working with any human is laughable, and I have trouble believing a moment of it. I haven't decided yet whether this should detract points from the movie, but I'm confident it shouldn't give it points.

The Jurassic Park series has always been about human beings making dumb decisions in the face of mountains of evidence that they are dumb. I know Dr. Wu is the sleeper bad guy here, always in the background, always the architect of doom for the entire movie. But frankly every time he's on screen he says some word of warning: "You asked for this," "this dinosaur is not fit to be released," etc. While there's no value in an excuse like "you told me to do this" where "this" results in the deaths of people, I do admire Wu for being honest about the monstrosities he's creating. THAT SAID, the decisions humans make in these movies strains credibility, and my ability to suspend disbelief. It began in the very first film when the velociraptor escaped from the cage as they were releasing her into the paddock. Literally all you needed to do was have two bank vault-style piston pins secure the cage from the bottom or the sides. The scene even showed a light going green... surely this would have meant the cage was secured. But no, the velociraptor just pushed it back from the paddock entrance and ate everyone. Sorry for talking about a movie from 27 years ago here, but the point is that the entire series has strained credibility for the simple fact of being dumb through and through. JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM continues in the grand tradition by making everything the least secure they can and everyone making the worst decisions they can. The mercenary Wheatley (Ted Levine) is looking for his bonus and - for some reason - absolutely must grab the tooth of the Indoraptor by going into its cage. In his defense, the Indoraptor somehow knew to pretend to act drugged (huh?) or the sedation wore off extremely quickly for some reason (huh?) and none of that makes any sense. It's just bad decision after bad decision and after a while it's hard to ignore the plot holes in service of exciting dino rampages.

The way they left the franchise - with the dinosaurs free in mainland America - is troubling. Part of the charm of the Jurassic Park franchise is that the danger is contained, but human folly exposes us to the risks. It's why the "park" works so well: everyone knows deep down that they're toying with their own lives, but they go, and they pay money anyway. Releasing them into the wider world just takes some of the magic out of it.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a good popcorn movie, but I really do want something more from the next installment. Another "o no the dinosaurs got out lol" is going to bore me again. Leaving them loose in the world is going to bore me, that's just a monster movie and I could just rewatch A Quiet Place. I admit this is a tough needle to thread. Maybe I won't ever be happy with another Jurassic World/Park movie.

I hope so, though, cause Sam Neill is coming back.