Darke Reviews | Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Special thanks to my movie going partner tonight for the summation on the TL;DR on this review. I can surely say you make the movie going experience better. Thank you.

Now onto the review itself.

Hooboy. Despite appearances this is spoiler free thanks to the trailers.

Set three years after the incident at Jurassic Park, a group of conservationists and scientists, plus survivors of the first incident at the park return to Isla Nublar to take what action they can to save the dinosaurs. What they find there is treachery by the very company who sent them as a great white hunter betrays them and a weaselly white man in a suit working for the older gentleman has his sights set on pure greed. Instead of wanting to preserve the formerly extinct animals, he wants to profit off of them. Our heroes must find a way to save the dinosaurs from the machinations of corporate greed without getting anyone else killed in the process.

Wait sorry that was the plot of Jurassic Park 2. Or was it Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom? I think…I think they are the same. They pasted over the paint with fresh wallpaper and some new modern furniture, but the house, the frame, the wiring are all the same. I blame Colin Treverrow, who proved with Jurassic World he wasn’t quite up to the task based on the audience and critical mixture that happened with it. Yes, it made oodles of money, but not nearly as much as the studio wanted when you consider it remained uncontested in theatres for weeks but saw consistent 50% box office sale drop offs week after week. Anything that might have contested it was even worse so it reminded us of 1993 when dinosaurs ruled the earth. This got him yanked from Star Wars Episode IX direction and after the laughable book of Henry it may be awhile before we see him in the directors chair again. He gets the blame for this as he was originally to script and direct, but was yanked from this one as well. Derek Connolly the other writer on this one was also the writer for Jurassic World and Kong Skull Island ….and Star Wars Episode IX, so hold on to your butts for that one.

*pulls up a chair and sits across from the two men* Look I get it it. You may have been given a raw deal from the studio. You didn’t have any great new ideas for a sequel to a reboot, which in itself is a sequel. So you went back to the well. Literally. You lifted the major beats and plot points from what is arguably the second best Jurassic Park film, then doubled down on all the beats you really loved from your last movie. The problem, gentle sirs, is that you crossed a line here. It’s a fine line in any reboot or sequel, of which you are dealing with both; but it is the line where you draw parallels to earlier works. You rehash scenes, beats, and locations from earlier – better works and all it makes us do is think of the better film or at least the scene where it was done better. I mean I will give you points for not having gymnastics beat a velociraptor, but that’s narrow praise.

Your main antagonist is near identical to the crib sheet you used. The secondary antagonist lacks any of the charm, wit, or sublime caliber of the original model – which makes him a comical parody of what was already a parody character. Did you not realize he was this thing? Then, oh…I just ….you expect J.A. Bayona, a horror director to shoot a scene that looks lifted right from a bloody Loony Toons cartoon. This is a mistake. This script was a mistake. It has moments which work, but they are but brief glimmers of something better that never arrived. Unless there was a contractual obligation the studio made a mistake here not bringing in another writer to tweak the script.

J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, Penny Dreadful – 2 eps), is clearly a talented director. There are very intentional costume changes that I noticed. He was able to get the actors to do more than phone it in which I think they were trying to do more than a few times. I get it the script hindered you, like a lot. I imagine the studio did as well. You had no easy task here. You did everything you could to tell a visual story that conflicted itself every twenty minutes or so and was plagued with such laughably bad decisions that Speilberg couldn’t have saved it. You too though have some things to learn. You have to earn your musical score. The music by Michael Giacchino was wonderful but did not belong in a movie about dinosaurs, volcanos, and evil corporations. It belonged in Middle Earth or some other middle fantasy setting. Your big bad dino’s theme cannot be at the levels of Sauron, or any other of the epic baddies, it wasn’t earned. I could tell you and your visual effects artists had the idea for one shot being awesome, and they tried so hard…but you beat it a minute later with a much better one. Then you beat it again five minutes before with one of the best. If the script didn’t go back to the well, you did too and too much of it and its sour.

I haven’t talked about the actors yet, besides mentioning almost phoning it in. Chris Pratt is Chris Pratt, though he largely looked bored here. Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire learned from the last movie and was wearing sensible hiking boots going back to the island. The movie makes sure you notice. No I am not joking. She’s fine otherwise. Justice Smith as the high pitched screaming kid from the trailer is fine; even if he has to utter the line every hacker in every movie says “I’m in.”  Daniella Pineda (The Originals) gives one of the most entertaining performances but I have a weakness for sarcastic smart feminists in STEM fields. It’s a thing. There is literally no one else worth mentioning, sorry James Cromwell, not even you.

I could spend another hundred or two words going over some not good CG work, really really bad science (I have rage), and ranting about this is a movie in search of an identity between action and horror and never quite hitting it.

TL;DR

Turn your brain off for two hours. You might have a good time.

I don’t actively hate this movie, its just another hollow high budget production that has a few moments that made me laugh or smile, but not enough for me to actually like it or feel anything about it at all. If any emotion I have towards the movie its a high level of irritation. I can’t even say this is a well made bad movies. Its a high budget mediocre movie that many will enjoy. I am so bloody happy for them I could cry. The biggest win is that the movie didn’t bore me and kept me engaged enough to want to see which plot point from previous movie they would lift next.

Should I see it?

After my dismal reviews on Avengers Infinity War and Incredibles 2, my overwhelmingly positive review of Solo, and less than stellar review of this one you decide. Personally I would say Matinee if you must see it. This is not worth full price, 3D or even XD.

So…won’t be seeing it again?

Nope.

Buying i..

Nope.

Ok what about Goldblum?

He is actually in the movie as a bookend. We needed more of him.

Is it really that bad?

Look I love the T-Rex. It’s amazing. It’s also a bloody apex predator. Stop giving it hero moments. Please.

 

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Darke Reviews – Jurassic World (2015)

Being a pessimist is a blessing and a curse, usually a curse. The blessing is that I expect so little of people and the world that when they deliver above my lowest expectations I can be pleasantly surprised. Since the first hyper saturated trailer came out for this film I have been pretty much quick to condemn it. Too much CGI. Too much hyper color correction. Chris Pratt with a pack of velociraptors around him. It really looked bad. Point in fact one of the people who had intended to see the movie, with me today, and myself were going to full on MST3K this film after it was over.  I expected bottom of the barrell Hollywood paycheck garbage.

So where did it land?

As always SPOILER FREE.

Let’s look at an early condemnation for the film by my own rules. The writer count. You get to excuse Michael Crichton (being dead is a good excuse) as he is simply credited for the characters. That leaves us with 4 unique credits on the writing. You have Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver on story, then again on screenplay. Two additional names show up on screenplay as well, Colin Trevorrow (who also directed) and Derek Connolly. Jaffa is probably best known for his work on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and an older horror movie called The Relic (it’s not too bad). Silver has worked on the same projects beat for beat as writers and both functioned as producers on the last two Apes movies. Helps when they are married I suppose, but I can see that they do work well together and put out some of the best films we have had in the sci fi genre in the past few years. Their story work is evident here as the movie does focus on the little interactions amidst life threatening chaos. Derek Connolly seems to have been brought in as an addition to put touches on the script as well, probably due to the fact that he and writer/director Trevorrow worked on SNL and Safety Not Guaranteed together. So in reality the movie defies the 3+ writer rule and brings it down to 2. You have two pairs of people who pretty much work exclusively with each other, they feed off of each other and build on each other in a collaborative way that can be both bad and good, but the end result is a well oiled machine that knows how to function and isn’t trying to ‘fix’ someone else.

From a story standpoint itself, the movie has a few points I think it wanted to elaborate more on but either they were cut or not fleshed out. These personal stories weren’t really all that gripping or necessary to the point I think I might have preferred them removed and something else more relevant for the individual characters instead. There is one trope I could have done without that isn’t offensive, but mostly tired. A few points are cringe worthy and without the slightest hint of subtlety. Does it really have a negative impact on the movie? No. Not really

Part of that credit must go to the director. Colin Trevorrow is a man who has never had a budget of his own before now. I think much like Gareth Edwards on Godzilla after Monsters, was a bit overwhelmed, but stuck to many of his roots (where the studio allowed)  and told a good story with rather good performances from his actors, no matter their age. If anything he fails at it is some of his decisions on camera work with the director of photography. A few scenes move too quick and cut too fast to let you try to make sure you are seeing what you are meant to see. I am not sure if that comes from trying to hide the CG work or just bad design.  I also must blame him for some of the editing flaws in the movie and decisions to keep certain beats in where they weren’t needed. Otherwise, he did pretty well in letting you savor the action, the tension, and helping to overcome the significant flaws of the abomination that is Jurassic Park 3. The writing quartet and director remembered to make the characters likeable so you care if and when they die.

The credit must also go to the actors here. Look let me put it in blunt terms. Chris Pratt rules this film like a T-Rex in his own right. You have no choice but to watch him as he is consistently the most interesting thing on screen. He is larger than life and is supposed to be. He nails it perfectly and I am happy. There’s a rumor that Disney may be targeting him for a certain fedora and bullwhip and to that I say – yes please (after this film). Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, The Help) is also surprisingly good in this. I enjoy her character far more than I anticipated and she (and the director) put some subtlety and nuance to her performance through the film that I was happy to see. While she isn’t as big as Pratt in this one, she does hold her own screen presence pretty well.

Let’s talk children for a moment. One of the driving forces of this story, as they were in the original. The kids. They act. They act well. Screw you Shyamalan (note: this is an eternal screw you for his abomnination of The Last Airbender and horrible acting from the children).  Ty Simpkins (Insidious, Iron Man 3) does well as the younger brother and doesn’t make you want to grind your teeth. He is matched by Nick Robinson as the older brother who had such potential to be something not good. Thankfully again the writers, director, and Robinson hold their hand well and let the character be something a bit more than stereotype. Thank you guys.

Ok, so I ripped the movie for technicals just from the trailers. Should I? Yes. The CG work is flawed. The effects team used daylight and hyper saturation of the color pallette to try to hide the lines, but it (as always) doesn’t work. Not every piece of CG work is bad mind you, but the parts that are – really are. What the trailers didn’t tell me and  I was happy to see was PRACTICAL. While not to the scale, effect, or execution of the original Jurassic Park, the practical effects are good. They are also sorely needed amidst everything else. Also – guys….(not that anyone on the team will see this) I can tell when you reuse assets. It’s not the worst sin in the world, but it’s still a sin. Speaking of sins. CinemaSins will probably have some fun with this one as my first thought seeing the kids room was ‘there’s an orgy of evidence that this room belongs to a young boy’. The product placement in this also is near sin worthy if it weren’t so intentional. It is a little ridiculous at times, but I consider it a small price.

TL:DR?

It’s a good movie folks. If you are like me and have some seriously intense nostalgia for the original film, try to keep that in check. For better or worse the industry has changed and our awe at seeing a dinosaur on the big screen will never be the same as it was in Jurassic Park. I paid attention to the people around me. The kids. The adults. The elderly couple next to me. They enjoyed it. They weren’t comparing it to the original film (which does hold up 20 years later) they were just watching this.

They were watching dinosaurs walk, fly, and swim. They laughed, they jumped, they gasped, but they had a good time. That right there is all that matters.  All critiques and criticisms, and trust me I can tear into this movie with a few things, don’t really matter. People had a good time. The film makers wanted that and they succeeded. It isn’t as great as the original, but is the original as great because we had *nothing* to compare it to and it in turn became the benchmark we compare other things to? Are some of the moments completely ridiculous? Yes. I didn’t care and neither did the audience. Movies have changed for better or worse.

This is a summer blockbuster that is going to happen.

It should happen.

So for whatever it may be worth I think you should go see Jurassic World and you will probably enjoy yourself. 

I know I did.

Trailers in the Darke – Jurassic World

Welcome…to Jurassic World.

 

UPDATE: NEW TRAILER