There’s been some controversy recently about producers and studios claiming that some movies aren’t made for critics; they’re made for the fans. For me, this claim is just an excuse to produce films without any effort. If critics weren’t fans of film, why would they subject themselves to hours upon hours of their lives watching them? And if studios don’t want to receive bad reviews, they should stop rushing films into production and do what Pixar does and take the time to develop a good, solid story. On the other hand, everyone will bring their own personal experiences with them into a film. Where one person sees a masterpiece, another sees boring tripe. You’re never going to please everyone; all you can really do is make the best possible movie you can and let the chips fall where they may. Somoene’s opinion should never be mocked or ridiculed just because it doesn’t line up with yours. I know not everyone is going to like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the newest entry into the dino-centric franchise. Some will think it’s a retread of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, some won’t be interested in the cast, and some will say it’s nothing more than a cash-grab. And that’s fine. As for me, I enjoy an array of different types of films, and as both a critic and a fan, I thought Fallen Kingdom was a welcome addition to the franchise.
With the inactive volcano at the center of Isla Nublar, the island for which houses the Jurassic World theme park, now heavily active, what would have happened had Jurassic World never been closed? It would have be easy to keep tourists from attending the park, and the administrators would have had more time to transfer the dinosaurs to a safe place. Instead, because of the events of the Jurassic World, the dinosaurs have been left to roam free, and the question now is, should we even consider heading back to rescue the dinosaurs from extinction? Like everything else in the world today, the public is split on this decision, but with the educated testimony of Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), politicians on the hill have decided to let nature take care of the mess the humans made.
This decision isn’t going to stop Dr. Hammond’s old partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), from doing what he believes to be the right thing. With help from his business partner, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), Lockwood has sent an expedition to the island to recover several different species and transfer them to a new island where they can live free with no interference. (It does seem odd to me that no one in either Jurassic World film has mentioned Isla Sorna… you know, the other island that houses the dinosaurs as they mature before being transported to Isla Nublar to become part of the park. Does that island still exist, and are there still dinosaurs on it?)
There’s just one small issue that Eli and Lockwood can’t figure out — how to track and capture Blue, the last remaining velociraptor. Enter Jurassic World’s chief operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who’s apparently the only one who has access to the old tracking system on the island and the only one who might convince animal behaviorist (and Indiana Jones stand-in) Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to return to the island to help his “baby” survive. Though I’m not sure I buy the reasoning behind Owen agreeing to go, it’s nice to see Pratt back for another go-around, especially because the chemistry between he and Howard has become more relaxed since the last film. Joining them on the trip is an excited veterinarian (Daniella Pineda) and a geeky tech-wizard (Justice Smith) who despises doing anything adventurous.
Though the team works well together, and almost all of them have at least one important moment that is key for their character, there isn’t a whole lot of change for any of the characters. This includes Dr. Wu (BD Wong), who was last seen stealing samples from Jurassic World to start his own genetic testing facility. When Eli uses Wu’s idea to sell and weaponize the dinosaurs, including the indoraptor, Wu’s newest creation — a mix of the raptor and the indiminous rex — that’s meant to become the perfect weapon, Wong has nothing to do but spout scientific jargon about why it’s dangerous to test these genetic alterations.
Of course what would a Jurassic Park movie be without a precocious kid? Newcomer Isabella Sermon plays Lockwood’s granddaughter, Maisie, who, unlike the kids in the Park movies (and very much like the brothers in Jurassic World), doesn’t seem to have a reason for being except to be the catalyst for a lot of what happens in the second and third acts as well as introducing some additional ethical issues into the mix. She screams, she runs, she hides. At the same time, she’s also the most fun kid since Tim and Lex from the original, so she has that going for her. And the ethical quandries that come up also lead to some interesting possibilities for the inevitable third chapter in this new trilogy.
With all that said, you probably wouldn’t think I liked the film, but even with these flaws, the film still finds a way to be entertaining in the same way all of the other sequels did — by being pure escapist fun. Although there are only three returning characters, that actually ends up being a good thing. Director J.A. Boyana is able to embrace the essence of the first film while cutting the uninspired fat from its predecessor, adding some fun quirky new characters that blend well with the old and helps build on the ways the characters interact with one another, and gives us what we all want — some terrific dino-terrorizing action and suspense.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a popcorn flick that’s meant to be enjoyed. That doesn’t mean it’s not for critics; it just means critics who lean more toward art-house films may not be able to get past the repetitive nature of the story. And that’s perfectly fine. But those who don’t mind money-hungry characters bordering on mustache-twirling villainy because they enjoy getting to see those hiss-worthy villains get their comeuppance due to the actions of a bunch of pretty faces, than you will certainly enjoy this new edition to the dinosaur franchise. I did. (Bonus points for keeping Howard in boots while running from this set of dinosaurs!)
My Grade: A
I don’t see very many documentaries, and those I do tend to revolve around some sort of entertainment icon, like Mr. Rogers, the focus of Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a very personal and inspirational look into a man who wasn’t just a superhero for children, but someone who was very influential in building a brand that matched his personal convictions both on television and in the community. A-
Next week, new movies include Sicario: Day of the Saldado, and Uncle Drew. If you would like to see a review for one of these, or any other film out next week, please respond in the comments below.