In 2015, Jurassic World was an effort to reboot a 22-year-old franchise, basically by remaking 2003’s Jurassic Park — a couple of adults with romantic issues desperate to save kids trapped in a dinosaur theme park. Fine. The stupidest part of Jurassic World, though, was that whole The-Military-Wants-To-Weaponize-Dinosaurs thing. Remember all that nonsense with Vincent D’Onofrio’s character?
Where does an idea so gobsmackingly dumb come from? In the real world, in our world, are there lunatics running around looking to weaponize gorillas, cougars, and sharks? No. The idea of weaponizing a gorilla, cougar, or shark is beyond absurd. Anyone who suggested such a thing would be laughed out of the room. But…
Being the easiest lay in the theater, I was willing to suspend enough disbelief that through some genetic freak occurrence, a D’Onofrio character could exist; that one whacko could slip through the Darwinian Elimination Game whose judgment was so suicidal, he actually thought it a good idea to share a battlefield with a herd of freakin’ raptors on the loose. Okay, you need a bad guy, whatever, I’ll forgive one dumb idea in a movie full of cool dinosaurs — you know, cuz dinosaurs.
The entire premise of Fallen Kingdom, though — the movie’s entire reason for being, is based on that irrational premise.
Keep in mind, we are not talking about some lone psychotic here, some James Bond villain. This is a large group of sophisticated people living in the Jurassic Universe, a universe where there have already been four incidents involving rampaging, out-of-control dinosaurs; and we are supposed to believe they believe they can control them. This is laugh-out-loud ludicrous.
No joke, I swear on my Blu-ray collection, it is easier for me to buy the idea we could clone dinosaurs, easier for me to believe vampires exist, easier for me to believe there is a Matrix, easier for me to believe Earth will eventually be ruled by apes, than it is for me to believe hundreds of very smart, very rich, very powerful, very capable people would delude themselves into believing they could control dinosaurs.
At the risk of belaboring the point, this premise completely ignores, not only human nature, but human nature’s essence — our desire and will to survive. It is not sci-fi or fantasy to ignore human nature; it’s stupid and lazy.
I am telling you right now that the premise of Fallen Kingdom is the single most dumbest I have ever seen in any movie, ever.
It gets worse…
Our protagonists, our heroes… They are a big part of the problem.
Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are back, this time to return to Isla Nublar on a mission to save the dinosaurs. Since the disaster at the Jurassic World theme park, the island has been abandoned and the dinosaurs left on their own. A now-active volcano threatens to re-extinct them, which creates a moral dilemma (if you’re manic): do we save the dinosaurs or not?
Hired by a benevolent gazillionaire (James Cromwell), Owen, Claire, and a whole bunch of military-types set out to capture as many dinosaurs as possible and transfer them to another isolated island.
Okay, you want me to believe Trump hasn’t already nuked an island filled with rampaging monsters that could forever alter the food chain, fine. You want me to believe that after what they went through three years ago, Claire and Owen could be talked into, not only returning to that island (with an active volcano), but take the risk these animals might escape into the world, fine.
But then the plot goes bananas with the weaponizing thing…
And then, my hand to God…
***SPOILER WARNING*** ***SPOILER WARNING*** ***SPOILER WARNING***
…in the last five minutes the movie turns amoral — there is no other word for it. Our heroes, (including a child), the very people the movie has asked us to sympathize with, commit an act of pure evil (one commits the act, the others are fine with it and do nothing to stop it). All at once, and from out of nowhere, our heroes become villains, world-destroyers, worse-than-Hitlers…
This morally obscene twist manages to also shatter our illusions of John Hammond (so beautifully played by Richard Attenborough in the first two chapters), which reminds me of what The Last Jedi did to Luke Skywalker. They even mess with Hammond’s backstory in a way that is not only gratuitous and unbelievable, but completely unnecessary to the plot.
Nevertheless, the movie is still fun, and is basically a bridge to where the creators want to take the franchise, which is to a much larger canvas than the repetitive theme park/island concept. We are entering worse-case scenario territory, which is fine, but the way they go about it — man, talk about anti-human nihilism.
Fallen Kingdom is beautifully directed by J.A. Bayonne, the genius behind the 2007 horror masterpiece The Orphanage, which also had an amoral ending (suicide as a solution) it asked us to sympathize with.
There are a couple of annoying characters you would like to see eaten: a computer geek who screams like a little girl all the time. The worst, though, is the dinosaur veterinarian (who somehow earned this title without ever having seen a dinosaur). You can see why they cut the line about her being a lesbian. No need to state the obvious.
Better than its immediate predecessor, even at 128 minutes, Fallen Kingdom is never dull. But it is also never deep, or smart, or anything other than an empty amusement park ride filled with moral illiteracy.