Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a fifth-generation clone, a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy. Made so many times that all magic, wonder, and meaning has been lost like fossils in the earth. Sure, it imitates the thing you once loved, but it has no more of an emotional bond than the fifth tomato you’ve grown. The visual callbacks are so plentiful that you wonder if Universal had anymore vision than a blurred polaroid picture. And I don’t mean an Instagram polaroid filter, I mean the ones stuck in that rain damaged photo album, filled with pictures of your Uncle Larry who did something weird that got him sent to prison, but your grandmother still loves him and won’t throw his photos away. The ones with the brown smelling mildew stains.
It’s like that period when the only reason new Godzillas were being released was to show off the latest and most powerful model of Godzilla. It’s devoid of the same magic felt on the screen when that lizard first rambled across a Japanese city, but at least you got a cool action figure, right?
In any case, I could spend an entire review lambasting Jurassic World but that’d be too easy. Instead, here’s a quick summary and a primer of what does work:
Isla Nublar is under threat of imploding due to a massive volcano. That once dormant volcano upon eruption is enough to wipe out dinosaurs as we “know” them. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), now working to save and conserve this reptilian species, is approached by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a former associate of John Hammond, and his assistant, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). They want to save the dinosaurs, especially “Blue,” and they need Claire and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to track this Velociraptor down.
The thought of enticing Owen and Claire back to Isla Nublar is more believable than that of Jurassic Park 3, when Alan Grant got duped by a couple of desperate and imbecile parents to return. Claire wants to save these animals, whereas Owen still cares for Blue. Surprisingly, Pratt and Howard aren’t on screen together as much as you’d think. Instead, their time is split apart with two other newcomers: Zia Gonzales (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith). One is a paleoveterinarian, while the other is an IT specialist, respectively. Pineda’s character is sharp and witty, and she’s probably the best thing about this film. On the hand, Smith is doing the best with what he’s got with Franklin. Franklin, a guy who’s scared of dinosaurs, high-pressure situations, and possibly breathing, has no real reason to be on that island. His enticement to renege on any of his survival instincts lacks any definition. Also, the dinosaurs look great!
Short of the above, the rest of Jurassic World is a bastardization of Spielberg’s initial vision. While the first half of the film is what you’d expect from a Jurassic Park movie, which considering the last three isn’t saying much, the second half turns into a Gothic Frankenstein-esque auction. If Toby Jones is in your film, in this case playing an auctioneer named Gunnar Eversol, then it’s about to get creepy. And much like my Godzilla comparison, the auction isn’t just to showcase dinosaurs, it’s to display a brand new one: the Indoraptor (a genetically engineered dinosaur made to be the perfect fighting machine). The ‘bigger-gun metaphor’ used for dinosaurs makes for an unimaginative foe.
One would think Jurassic World ends here. Instead, we also have Lockwood’s granddaughter: Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Maisie is a mysterious girl who encompasses this Gothic second half. However, even when all is revealed the secret is lessened because of all that’s come before. Actually, she’s a microcosm of what’s wrong with Jurassic World. Her storyline is one big “shrug.”
And with every visual queue, with every reference said with a wink, the flicker of Jurassic Park’s franchise’s former majesty grows dimmer. Because as Jurassic World states, “once the genie is out of the bottle you can’t put it back.” Once that first dinosaur graced the screen, once we could see what our imaginations could only dream, when those marvels became commonplace, nothing would ever recapture that wonder again. And with that thought, director J.A. Bayona Jurassic World is now just another dinosaur movie.
p.s. Jeff Goldblum serves zero purpose in this film other than as a nostalgia trip. Also, the post-credit scene is atrocious.