Tag: jurassic world

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
★★ / ★★★★

You know there’s something wrong with a “Jurassic” sequel when you wonder why there isn’t more people being eaten by dinosaurs about halfway through the film. Although J.A. Bayona’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is arguably the most impressive entry visually, particularly when the camera lingers on an animal’s rough skin and even the details of the crevices are eye-catching, it commands neither a compelling story nor a potent social commentary—surprising because the question of whether genetically engineered dinosaurs ought be saved from an island about to undergo a volcanic eruption is at the forefront initially. Everybody has—or should have—an opinion when it comes to animal rights, but the screenplay misses the boat completely in engaging with the complexities of the subject matter.

Yes, a summer a blockbuster can be both wildly entertaining and educational—at the very least one that inspires conversations, particularly questions regarding what if or when technology finally catches up to us. No, it is not too much to ask; perhaps we should hold more films accountable so that we do not receive the same generic rubbish that goes on autopilot every year.

In this day and age, playing with genetics is more commercial than ever—I know because I am in the field. If the screenplay by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow were more scientifically curious, especially when it comes to science’s applications on our every day lives, the dialogue would have been more interesting rather than simply painting scientists as greedy or evil. Cue Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) eyeing one another longingly. Their relationship, whatever it is, goes nowhere in this installment.

Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” was so successful because the film was able to traverse the tricky balance of providing popcorn fluff and brain food. Here, however, the picture seems content in delivering spectacular special and visual effects but not necessarily modulating the audience’s more visceral reactions. Notice how busy the action sequences tend to be. While most of them take a moment or two of pause, they almost always end up with a jump scare and the inevitable extended chase. Its rigid adherence to the formula suffers from diminishing returns and I grew bored by the last third in which terrified characters run around a mansion where dinosaurs have escaped.

Aside from Owen and Claire’s flavorless main characters, even the supporting ones are a bore. This time around, a systems analyst (Justice Smith) and a paleoveterinarian (Daniella Pineda) are recruited to visit Isla Nublar and lend a hand on transferring the animals to a safer haven. Naturally, they find themselves unprepared and terrorized by the hungry beasts. Smith and Pineda’s characters are not written from an interesting angle. The original “Jurassic Park” has shown that side characters can function mainly as potential victims of dinosaur attack—siblings Tim and Lex quickly come to mind—but they must be so charming that the viewer roots for them anyway even when they make a last-minute dumb decision that puts everyone in further jeopardy. Here, the systems analyst and the paleoveterinarian make good choices and yet… they are dull. It should not be this way.

The picture promises a third “Jurassic World” installment and, I must say, I look forward to it. The way it is set up opens the door to limitless potential for exploration. Still, one cannot help but feel wary because this entry, too, shows potential to go beyond superficial entertainment—yet it does not. “Fallen Kingdom” is passable as a creature-feature film, but its many weapons in its arsenal are not utilized to set the bar high, to achieve greatness, or, at the very least, to become memorable. It seems content in delivering a safe spectacle.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World (2015)
★★ / ★★★★

Colin Trevorrow’s “Jurassic World” seems to forget what made Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” so successful: The sense of awe the viewers experience when a dinosaur—whether it be a T-Rex, a velociraptor, or a triceratops—is placed front and center of the camera. I was not impressed with the way the dinosaurs look here. With the exception of one scene involving a creature taking its last breaths, they look too fake, non-tactile, very likely to be surpassed by CGI technology five to ten years from now. What makes the original special is that many of the dinosaurs to this day still look real. I declare that this sequel will not stand the test of time.

Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is in charge of making sure that operations in Jurassic World are running smoothly, but she is also tasked by her sister (Judy Greer) to show her nephews, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), a good time. As the two boys sneak off to explore the theme park on their own, a dinosaur called Indominus rex (untamable king), simply called the I-Rex, ingeniously escapes from its enclosure and heads straight for twenty thousand visitors. This dinosaur is special because it is a hybrid of a T-Rex and… something else. We learn quickly that it is highly adaptable, extremely savage, and very intelligent.

The story is replete with unlikable or downright boring characters, from the controlling Claire, one of the main protagonists, to the villain (Vincent D’Onofrio) who wishes to use velociraptors as weapons in warfare. The brothers at the center of the story neither do nor say anything special about the park or the kinds of creatures they come across within the park. Although the screenplay forges a sort of bond between them toward the latter half, it comes across as forced because we learn next to nothing about who they are as people who just so happen to come face-to-face with extraordinary levels of danger.

The only memorable scene with the brothers involves being trapped in a cool-looking but ultimately claustrophobic gyrosphere and the I-Rex desperately wanting to eat them. I almost rooted for the dinosaur because then perhaps the movie would focus itself more on Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a raptor trainer who acknowledges and respects the inherent viciousness of these genetically modified animals. Despite this, I still thought Owen is not a very compelling character. His personality pales next to Drs. Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm from the previous pictures. Pratt can do more and should have been allowed to do so.

The product placement in this film is especially distracting to the point where I actually felt insulted. I am not the kind of viewer who is on the lookout for product placement but when a shot feels like it is only present for sake of showcasing a type of soda or a make of car, that is worthy criticism. The point of a movie is to experience a story as fully as possible. Leave the advertising to commercials. I felt so disgusted at times that I found myself wondering what the filmmakers were thinking when they decided to be so obvious about the products rather than what the characters are going through.

“Jurassic World” is not a terrible picture but it is tolerable because it does have some entertaining scenes beyond chase sequences. For example, we get a chance to see the ruins of a special location in Jurassic Park. Clearly, this film is not above utilizing nostalgia—including the insertion of the original “Jurassic Park” score from time to time. Ultimately, however, it is disappointing because one gets the impression that not enough effort is put into the material—whether it be from the writing, acting, or visual department—to give us an experience that makes its own undeniable footprint.

Watching “Jurassic World” is like going to California’s Great America but a lot of the rides happen to be broken at the time, and where I really want to go is Disney World with full-on VIP passes, VIP tours, an extended one week stay in a VIP room in a first-class hotel with free buffet accommodations. No, these are not too much to ask for when a movie costs hundreds of millions of dollars to make thereby having hundreds of millions of reasons to get it exactly right.