By Jordan Peterson | @thefilmmajor
Watching these ‘Jurassic’ films, I still can’t wrap my head around why anyone would want to visit an island full of dinosaurs. It makes even less sense to me why anyone would want to go back to an island full of dinosaurs after narrowly surviving a mass dinosaur prison break once already. Still, it keeps happening.
Now throw in the fact that the island itself is an active volcano that could “erupt at any moment” and I am beside myself in absolute befuddlement. STAY AWAY, PEOPLE! But that’s exactly the setup for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
That’s right, turns out that Isla Nublar has been getting ready to blow this whole time (who knew!) and for some reason, this poses mankind– and us, the audience–with a big moral quandary. Do we allow nature to take its course and re-extinct the dinosaurs or do we intervene and rescue them?
It’s an interesting question that might be worth exploring had the series not taken a firm stance on the issue four times already. Bringing back the dinosaurs was a mistake and mankind paid for its mistake with the loss of countless lives. We can try to control the outcome, but in the end, life finds a way. That’s the whole point of these movies. Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) is right.
So when Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens with Dr. Malcom testifying to congress that nature is trying to correct mankind’s mistake with the volcano, we the audience are being reaffirmed that, yes, dinosaurs are bad and will eat us if we allow them to live.
Cut to Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire. Once the head of operations at a theme park that exploited dinosaurs for profit, she now heads up the Dinosaur Protection Group with the aim of snatching the dinosaurs from the fiery jaws of death. Knowing of her new drive in life, Claire is invited to meet with Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), former partner of the late John Hammond, and his protege, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). It’s here Claire is offered a spot on a rescue mission to Isla Nublar to save Blue, the hyper-intelligent Velociraptor from the previous film. Of course to track him down, she’ll need help from the Dinosaur Behaviorist who raised Blue from birth. Enter Owen Grady (Chris Pratt).
To those who couldn’t get enough of Claire and Owen’s romantic arc in the first Jurassic World, you’re in for a treat. ‘Fallen Kingdom’ copies and pastes those exact same beats, beginning with a bashful Claire who tentatively approaches Owen from a distance, touching up her hair one final time whilst he distractedly slaves away on some overly macho task (last time he was fixing up a motorcycle and now he’s building a cottage in the woods… All by himself).
Escorting our on-again-off-again protagonists is Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), the obligatory ex-military dino-hater with droves of hired guns at his disposal and a cartoonish sense of self-importance. In fact, all the villains in ‘Fallen Kingdom’ play like exaggerated caricatures. The most obvious display of this in the film takes place back in the states underneath Benjamin Lockwood’s estate, where all the world’s rich black market jerkwads gather to bid on the so-called “rescued” dinosaurs as each caged member of the 11 remaining species is rolled out on display one-by-one like a fashion show.
“I bid twenty millions!” shouts one patron with an overtly thick Russian accent. FOR AN EXTINCT DINOSAUR?! GIVE ME A BREAK! IT COST MORE THAN THAT TO MAKE THIS DUMB MOVIE!
It’s also worth noting that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the slowest paced entry in the series. While there is more of a focus on telling an actual narrative this time around, that narrative relies completely on idiotic characters to make idiotic choices in order to progress. Because of this, not a single character resonated with me as genuine or relatable.
The one time I felt invested in what was happening on screen involved an ill-fated brachiosaurus. It’s a an absolutely heart-wrenching moment made all the more effective thanks to the painterly somber stylings of director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls). My biggest disappointment walking out of the theater was that I never cared about any of the human characters in the same way.