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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I had a lot of trouble buying into the concept of the movie from the start. After all, didn't The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III already establish that there is another island populated with dinosaurs that are living without cages or fences or human intervention? If so, then the re-extinction concerns feel more than a little over-inflated. Did the writers of Fallen Kingdom forget about The Lost World? Clearly not, because so much of Fallen Kingdom's plot is lifted straight from The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Are the writers trying to retcon The Lost World out of canon? I don't think so either, because they pulled out a line of dialogue from John Hammond in that movie to act kind of as a thesis for this movie.

I guess I might have missed a throw-away line stating that all the dinosaurs on Isla Sorna ("Site B") had died. Even if that is the case, then what makes anyone think that the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar would survive regardless of the volcano? Isla Sorna was larger and had even more dinosaurs (and a wider variety of dinosaurs) on it. If they all died off naturally, then surely the smaller population of dinosaurs on Isla Nublar would also be doomed to die off. And since there doesn't seem to be any problem with simply cloning them again, what's the point of a rescue op? Oh, well the point is to sell the dinosaurs off to pharmaceutical companies and military contractors. Gee, didn't see that coming!

The bulk of Fallen Kingdom's plot [LEFT] is a shamelessly ripped straight from The Lost World [RIGHT].

To compound the problem of the main plot being lifted almost verbatim from The Lost World, Fallen Kingdom makes frequent references and callbacks to Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. In fact, almost every set piece in Fallen Kingdom makes deliberate references to scenes in those two movies. The quality of these references ranges from homage to blatant rip-off, and the sheer volume of these references created (for me) a constant predictable "been-there-done-that" feeling that deflated any tension that the scene might have been trying to create.

The whole movie almost comes off as a collection of "best of" scenes from the previous movies, stitched together like a [particularly high production-value, but poorly-thought-out] Youtube fan edit.

Almost every set piece in Fallen Kingdom feels ripped from either Jurassic Park or Jurassic World.

In addition, the characters all feel like they're jogging in place from a character development standpoint. Seriously, does anybody in this movie actually grow as a character? Even the villains are all cardboard-thin Saturday Morning Cartoon bad guys.

The focus on a single dinosaur (Blue the raptor), had the potential to create a much more emotional centerpiece for a smaller, more personal story. The dinosaurs stop being movie monsters, and they start to be characters. This might be the only way that the Jurassic Park franchise can move its narrative forward, because the awe and wonder of seeing dinosaurs can't be re-captured. But Fallen Kingdom doesn't want to tell a small, personal story. It wants to tell an apocalyptic tale full of spectacle and action, and it gets so distracted with everything else that's happening, that Blue (and any other dinosaur "characters") kind of falls into the background. Jurassic World blundered most of its themes of family, work-life balance, corporate culture, and animal rights and ethics, but at least it tried.

Fallen Kingdom barely even bothers. The characters are completely flat, and the only recurring themes are the ideas of man repeatedly proving that we can't be trusted to responsibly handle new technology, and some idea that the dinosaurs deserve basic ethical protections. Blue would be the most successful representation of both of those themes, if not for the fact that none of this was actually set up in the last movie, and it all feels super cheap blatantly retcon-y. But it doesn't matter anyway, because she's frequently shoved to the background to make room for more dumb spectacle shots with a bunch of nameless dinosaurs that we mostly don't care about.

The relationship with a single dinosaur is supposed to be the emotional centerpiece.

The frustrating thing is that at the same time that the moment-to-moment action of Fallen Kingdom feels stale and derivative, the events of the larger plot serve to literally blow up the franchise's status quo (which has been running in place since the end of the first movie), in a fashion similar to Thor: Ragnarok. Just think if the screenplay had focused more on things like the relationship between Own and Blue, or on that shot of the brachiosaurus getting stranded on the dock. This mirror of the reveal of the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park is one of the most tragic and emotional moments from the entire franchise. The joy and wonder of these creatures is actually at risk! This sequence is heart-wrenching, is visually imaginative, and by moving the story forward (rather than dwelling in the past), it is perhaps the only homage that Fallen Kingdom really gets right.

Had the majority of Fallen Kingdom not been so mediocre and thoughtless and full of contrivances, Fallen Kingdom would get a lot of points simply for being brave in trying to legitimately push the franchise's overarching narrative forward -- and, interestingly enough, in a direction more akin to Michael Crichton's original vision. The problem is that, unlike Thor: Ragnarok, the actual movie this time around is pretty stale, mediocre, and kind of rote, not to mention really stupidly-scripted.

Maybe if these two movies had been combined, such that the park was open, and it was threatened with a volcano eruption that forces the animals to be evacuated to the mainland, we'd have had a good movie to begin with. Both Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom seem like they are clearly trying to set the stage for a major franchise transition, and it needs to just get there already! In the meantime, maybe I'll go back and re-watch The Lost World. Through all its incompetence, Fallen Kingdom makes that movie look like an underappreciated masterpiece.

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