Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:

PROF. FRINK: Man, if this is happening here, I'd hate to think what's happening in Euro Itchy & Scratchy Land.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Do-gooders decide doctored dinos don't deserve death despite devious detractors devising diabolical designs.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3 Jango Fetts out of 5.

Tagline: "Life finds a way."

Better Tagline: "Scenes from a class struggle on the Morrison Formation."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Three years and hundreds of millions of dollars in class action lawsuits later, the abandoned Jurassic World theme park faces imminent destruction thanks to a volcano on Isla Nublar. Former manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) heads up a group trying to save the island's dinosaurs. Enter Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), former partner of John Hammond (whom we're just now meeting after four movies) who — with the help of aide Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) — want to move the dinosaurs to another island. Of particular interest to Lockwood is Blue the Velociraptor, which naturally requires the assistance of Blue's former wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). Fortunately, no one involved has another agenda, right?

"Critical" Analysis:
 Like insects in amber, the fifth movie in the now-25 year old Jurassic Park series preserves the overarching theme of previous films: that is, the ethical implications of cloning and continued genetic tinkering. A token appearance by franchise doomcrier Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) shines a light on this conundrum, as director J.A. Bayona attempts to pepper the volcano-on-dinosaur-on-mankind violence with something approaching self-examination.

Well, that and plenty of hand-wringing over the efforts to preserve them in the face of imminent destruction. The line "We can't let them die," or some variation thereof, is uttered enough times it's almost persuasive, until you realize: they can make more dinosaurs whenever they want. Dr. Wu (B.D. Wong), the closest thing to a supervillain these movies have, even has another lab stocked with dino eggs and DNA samples. That replicating the species hasn't been a problem since 1993 should've tipped Claire and Owen off that the "rescue mission" isn't what it seems.

Otherwise, JW:FK hits all the expected beats, as Claire, Owen, and their possibly doomed companions (Danielle Pineda as a "paleoveterinarian" and Justice Smith as the requisite IT guy) flee thunder lizards, escape certain death, and avoid the latest nightmare creation (say hello to the INDORAPTOR) through a combination of dumb luck and deus ex machina. Though in fairness to Bayona, he manages to truncate scenes that have tended toward bloat in the past (the trailer over the cliff in The Lost World, for example) and pushes the series where it needed to go (we'll get to that).

But that's not the only reason Fallen Kingdom is a better movie than its predecessor. Claire is more capable and Owen is less annoying, and there's no real link to the other characters from Jurassic World, presumably because Claire's sister is no longer speaking to her after she almost got her nephews killed. Happily, Bayona also moves the action off the island in good time, though not before one sequence that's a direct rip-off of the original's Gallumimus scene.

Moving the proceedings to stately Lockwood Manor and allowing the aforementioned diabolical scheme to play out lets Bayona introduce Lockwood's granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon), the requisite child in peril. More importantly, it offers the prospect of dinosaurs chowing down on the one percent, which you'll agree really is the best use of genetically engineered monsters.

But it isn't until the movie's nearly over that something truly wonderful happens. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] After nearly two hours of the usual "running and, um, screaming," Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom decides to fulfill the promise made by the original Jurassic Park (and Michael Crichton's novel), by finally proving Ian Malcolm right and giving us a world where humans and dinosaurs are forced to coexist. It's some straight up Planet of the Apes shit and opens up a whole new world (no pun intended) of possibilities.

Aaaand then the credits roll. See you in 2021.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar