Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom came out 3 years ago and I'm still annoyed about it6th June 2021
I still can't get my head around just how terrible this film was. It's almost like somebody tried to make a Jurassic Park movie that was rubbish on purpose, for a dare. It's so bad that not only is it basically two hours of nonsensical, mindless babbling, but it also manages to completely kill the franchise in the process.
Now, I love the original Jurassic Park (as anybody who knows me will attest). I saw it in the cinema on the day that it came out in 1993, and since then I've watched it more times in my life than any other movie. I could probably recite the whole film from memory.
I've got JP T-shirts, books, games, toys, posters and merch aplenty - in fact, I'm sitting five feet away from an original '93 plush raptor toy right now. I just adore the world of Jurassic Park, and I've always wished the park was a real thing (except, you know, without all the disasters and deaths and that).
And yet Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is just so, so infuriatingly terrible that it somehow manages to completely kill any further interest in the franchise for me. I literally no longer care at all about seeing the next Jurassic Park movie - which is a feat so impressive I didn't think it was possible.
How does this movie manage to miss the point so completely?
It is my sneaking suspicion that the film's writer, Colin Trevorrow, might be a blithering idiot. It is the only plausible explanation for how a film can come to misunderstand its own completely straightforward purpose so perfectly.
Look. There are two basic things I want from a Jurassic Park universe movie:
- Cool dinosaurs
- A park
It doesn't seem hard to understand that the primary draw of a film called Jurassic World ought to be dinosaurs. Right? People go to see it because they want to see actual dinosaurs on the big screen. Not an "Indominus Rex", not an "Indoraptor" or whatever else made-up mutant thing the filmmakers inexplicably think is more interesting. I can't believe the dinosaurs feel like an afterthought in this dinosaur movie.
Good movie dinosaurs are extinct, apparently
It wasn't perfect in terms of scientific accuracy, but for the most part the original movie really made a concerted effect to get the dinosaurs right. Spielberg and company realised that they had an unprecedented opportunity to show dinosaurs in a more authentic light than ever before in the history of cinema, and they went to great pains to source up-to-the-minute scientific knowledge to inform their depictions (the fictionalised Dilophosaurus being the only really noticeable departure from reality at the time).
Unfortunately, the franchise has lost all its vigour in this regard, and the newest movie is yet another example of sloppy dino depictions delivered by people who don't care.
I'm not going to do a detailed rundown of all of the dinosaur things that are wrong in Fallen Kingdom (it would take too long), but some of the most glaring and inexcusable dino-fails include this Tyrannosaurus being ridiculously oversized:
Look, they actually scaled it up in the final movie from this early VFX shot used in a trailer (where it looks much more reasonable):
Sinoceratops is way too big, too (and don't get me started about the stupid holes in its neck frill):
Hey, idiots! Stegosaurus is supposed to have a beak:
This Baryonyx ought to have whopping great sickle claws on its hands. It's literally one of the most distinctive things about the animal:
And so on - I'm not going to keep banging away on these sorts of errors. Believe me when I say there are a million other things I can say about the dinosaurs in this movie, but this post is supposed to be focused on cinematic criticism, not palaeontology nitpicks. I think I've made my point that this movie is pretty much a giant disappointment to dinosaur enthusiasts, so let's move on.
Remember how Jurassic Park was a movie about a slavering Xenomorph thing running around a spooky mansion?
Halfway through the film, Jurassic World: Fallen Franchise just completely forgets about being a Jurassic Park movie at all and turns into a mutant monster Nosferatu spoopy bullshit-a-thon.
I mean, what even is this? What film am I even watching any more?
Sure, let's have a freaky Frankenstein movie monster howling at the moon...? It's like they got fed up of making a dinosaur film and just decided to turn it into some entirely different thing that isn't even really about dinosaurs and is actually some sort of toothless wannabe horror film.
Thanks, Colin Trevorrow! I sure am glad as a fan of the franchise that you've basically removed the original setting, characters, subject matter, tone and point of the original movies and just made some completely other thing that has nothing to do with anything!
The movie can't even tell its own story competently.
Even if I wanted to be on board with the jarring thematic and tonal shifts away from the established franchise, it would be impossible to enjoy them anyway due to the film's monumentally terrible script which I can only assume was written after huffing paint fumes.
Jurassic World: Fallen Franchise doesn't make a lick of sense - character motivations change from scene to scene, various plot establishments are set up and contradicted and just about everything falls apart after even a moment's scrutiny or reflection.
Here's a rundown of just some of the things that bothered me while watching this movie (believe me, there were many, many more than this):
- So, Zia is a palaeo-veterinarian who has never seen a dinosaur in real life, apparently. This isn't a plot hole as such (after all, people can train to be astronauts without going into space, and all that), but it does raise several questions. How did she become a fully qualified dino-vet without ever having touched a dinosaur? Did she not work at Jurassic World before the accident - and if not, how does she know Claire, then? Is there anywhere to work as a palaeo-vet other than Jurassic World? Who's running the study programs? So, wait - she's clearly passionately obsessed with dinosaurs to the point that she wanted to become a vet, but she never once visited Jurassic World even as a tourist while it was open? None of these are unfixable issues, but we could really use some more background and clarification on this character because there are so many apparent contradictions and question marks.
- How do the bad guys manage to lock Claire and Franklin in the bunker on Isla Nublar? It's already established that Franklin is the only one who knows how to operate the security panels, but somehow the baddies manage to change the access codes by themselves?
- How does Lockwood not know about the absolutely enormous genetics lab in the basement under his house? How do the people who work down there come and go undetected every day?
- How was Mills planning to get the dinosaurs into and out of the mansion without Lockwood noticing, anyway? He evidently decides on a whim to murder the old man. What about the nanny lady? He just fires her at the exact same time the big auction event is taking place. What are the chances of her seeing the dinosaur trucks on her way out? Does he not think the nanny will find it highly suspicious that the old man just so happened to die on the exact same night that all the auction commotion is taking place in the house?
- Wu says this line: "Blue's DNA will be part of the next Indoraptor's makeup, so it will be genetically coded to recognise her authority and assume her traits - empathy, obedience, everything the prototype you have now is missing!" Does Trevorrow really not know that that is not remotely how genetics works?
- When Mills has Owen and Claire trapped in a cage, Wheatley asks, "So how we gonna end this?" - to which Mills responds, "well as far as everybody else is concerned, they burned up on the island." So, why is he keeping them alive, then? Just shoot them?
- Other people have pointed this out, but I can't gloss over the breathtakingly idiotic plot point that the Indoraptor has been engineered to attack people when you point a gun with a laser pointer at them - because the most efficient way of dispatching a person you would like to kill while pointing a gun at them is to have a mutant dinosaur run in and maul them. Yes, Colin Trevorrow actually thought that that was a perfectly sensible plot point to put in his movie.
- Owen lets the Stygimoloch loose in a room full of people. Uhh... doesn't that make him sort of a murderer? Is it supposed to be okay because all the people in the auction room are Definitely Evil? (Does Owen really know for a fact that none of the people in that room wanted to buy a dinosaur in order to take it to a sanctuary and save it? Or that one of the Evil Buyers didn't bring a completely innocent spouse or friend along to watch the dino auction?). Or is it supposed to be fine because the Stygimoloch only does cartoon damage? Either way, I have to point out that - quite apart from the fact that it contradicts the character of Owen as established in the previous movie (that of someone staunchly opposed to the idea of weaponising dinosaurs) - having a Good Guy™ knowingly and unnecessarily release a dinosaur from captivity into an area full of humans specifically so that it can harm them is so far removed from the ethos and point of Jurassic Park that it literally couldn't be more clashingly wrong. (God I hate this scene so much)
- Wheatley's character motivation for opening the Indoraptor cage is the weakest, flimsiest contrivance imaginable - he wants one of its teeth (he doesn't even know what the creature is, but okay). Why? "This will make a perfect centrepiece for my necklace." Seriously? That's his whole character motivation? He wants a necklace. Doesn't this script just scream "attention to detail"?
- Maisie runs to her room when being chased by the Indoraptor - except the door should be locked, remember? Mills locked her in there earlier, she climbed out of the window to escape. Ergo, the door should still be locked. Why does the film forget about this gigantic plot hole?
- In the finale, Claire points the Indoraptor laser beam at Owen and he immediately goes along with it without any visible reservations. Somehow he knows ahead of time that the Indoraptor is going to leap at him (and not just run headlong) and that he can slide underneath it. Somehow they both know the roof will collapse and the Indoraptor will definitely not be able to keep its footing? Or something? What the fuck was the plan here? Wasn't the whole thing with the Indoraptor supposed to be that it was the fastest and most deadly creature ever? I guess you can just jump out of the way and wait for it to fall over, huh?
- Blue the Velociraptor runs off after dispatching the Indoraptor and then everybody just forgets about her. Everyone walks around completely unconcerned and at no point does anybody say, "hey, we should really watch out for the loose raptor that's running around here somewhere."
Or this really, really terrible velociraptor VFX shot:
Or the extremely unsubtle and distracting Apple product placement shots throughout the film:
There's a never-ending stream of things to rant about in this movie - like how the script basically does nothing with the one legitimately interesting element of its premise (the debate over whether it's morally preferable to rescue the genetically created dinosaurs on the exploding Isla Nublar, or better to let them go extinct again).
The original Jurassic Park had themes of morality and debate woven into its story, with multiple scenes of characters making interesting points and counter-points about whether the park was a good idea and whether science may have gone too far.
Jurassic World: Fallen Franchise is bookended with a couple of characters giving some reasons why we might not want to save the dinosaurs, but nobody really has an actual conversation discussing the two sides in any detail. In fact, for the most part it's just sort of assumed throughout that it's self-evidently obvious that saving the dinosaurs is the correct course of action, and all of the protagonists are either on board with that from the beginning or require little in the way of persuasion.
Even more bafflingly, we have a few clips of Ian Malcolm - who has generally been the voice of reason throughout the series - explaining why the dinosaurs shouldn't be saved, and then the film basically ploughs on regardless and just assumes that he's wrong about that. Like... was there not a bit more to explore there? Especially given that at the end of the movie the dinosaurs get released to run freely and dangerously around an unsuspecting California - doesn't that prove that rescuing them from the island was actually a really terrible idea exactly as Malcolm said?
By the way, that scene of the dinosaurs being released has one of the worst and most idiotic lines of dialogue in cinema history. Maisie's motivation for opening the gate? "I had to. They're alive, like me." Let's just all take a moment and soak in the fact that Trevorrow actually thought that line was sufficient as justification for one of the most pivotal moments in his trilogy.
I can still only barely contain my frothing rage at this stupid, stupid movie and how it basically does a gigantic shit all over my favourite movie series. I could write so much more, even, about how the characters are universally unlikable cardboard cutouts depicted by actors giving unmemorable by-the-numbers performances, or about any of dozens more unlikely and nonsensical moments in the film (such as when a Tyrannosaurus rex the size of a house roars point-blank in a lion's face at the San Diego Zoo, and the lion's response is to roar defiantly right back at it instead of just running away? What?).
Jurassic Park as a franchise died completely in 2018, and I won't be going to see whatever incompetent mess they scrape together for the next one. I've almost certainly spent longer thinking about this blog post than they've spent writing the screenplay.
I can only hope that at some point in the distant future, when Colin Trevorrow has been firmly removed from the franchise, some tiny, tiny scrap of usable DNA from the original movie might be one day discovered preserved in amber - ready to be resurrected and given new life by a filmmaker prepared to actually try a little bit.