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“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” Is All Dinosaurs, Bad Writing and Boredom

Movies

Scene from “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” | Courtesy photo

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” opens with a fair amount of discussion about whether or not the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar should be allowed to go extinct. I spent a majority of the runtime of “Fallen Kingdom” wondering the same thing about the “Jurassic Park” franchise. If future installments are as bad as “Fallen Kingdom”, letting the franchise die out would be an act of mercy.

“Fallen Kingdom” brings back animal behavior expert Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), former operations manager at Jurassic World Park turned activist fighting for dinosaur rights. Owen and Claire join a mission to save as many dinos as possible from Isla Nublar before the island explodes.

But all is not as it seems. Ellis Mills (Rafe Spall), the guy bankrolling the mission, is hatching a sleazy plan to enrich himself through the dinosaurs. If you’ve seen even one of these “Jurassic” flicks, you know for sure that this is gonna get messy.

On paper, “Fallen Kingdom” sounds like a winner. Save the dinosaurs from death in volcanic fire? That sounds pretty cool. As executed, that plot only takes up half the film, with the rest devoted to Mills and his plan. And this movie is so boring and does so little to get viewers invested, that by the time the big finish gets here, it’s hard to care.

The root of this movie’s failings lie in the terribly written script. Take the characters. Owen is supposed to be the protagonist, but he goes through no change and doesn’t grow or learn at all. The only interesting thing about Owen is the fact that Chris Pratt is playing him. Claire kind of has an arc, although it’s less an “arc” than it an “ah-ha” moment she has at the end of the movie. It’s an indication of how poorly written the character is that the most sympathetic character in the movie is Owen’s favorite velociraptor, Blue.

On top of poor character writing, “Fallen Kingdom” features scenes that either don’t make sense or do nothing to advance the story. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) makes an appearance to verbalize what we’re supposed to be thinking about, but those scenes are so disconnected from the main plot of the film, they seem to exist for the sole purpose of getting the audience to go “Cool, it’s the dude from the first ‘Jurassic Park’!”

Actors can do little with such an incompetently written script, but Pratt still cranks up the charisma. James Cromwell shows up to turn in some solid work. Spall manages to turn bad writing into a decent performance. There’s little that stands out about Howard’s performance. She looks like she just turned up for the paycheck most of the time.

Directing this cast and steering the “Fallen Kingdom” ship is J.A. Bayona. He seems most comfortable with scenes of major spectacle or the horror movie-influenced material that comprises the last act of the film. And he does a respectable job with those scenes. What he fails at doing is building compelling characters that viewers can latch onto. So, when then scary or action-packed scenes go down, we don’t care. The dinosaurs still look pretty awesome, but that can’t save the film.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” ends in a spot that promises fresh narrative possibilities for future installments of the franchise. And it’s a good thing, too. For years, this series has leaned hard on the humans-playing-God-and-creating-monsters-which-shouldn’t-be aspect of previous films. If they don’t dredge up some new story ideas, audiences will lose interest and the “Jurassic Park” franchise will die out.

2 Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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