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Jurassic Ark

Jurassic isn’t one of those lucky elites to survive unscathed to its fifth entry. It’s every bit the ditzy, clumsy, awkward chapter expected from a late series dinosaur movie.

It’s apt, in a way. This is Universal studios who churned out regurgitated horror movies with torch-carrying villagers to such a degree, their Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolf Man properties folded into one another. In summary, that’s Fallen Kingdom too. The dinosaurs eat people, the T-Rex makes improbable last second saves, references to the previous films flourish, and Michael Crichton’s original concept is bastardized like Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker’s before. Fallen Kingdom even brings back fan favorite Jeff Goldblum to dryly spout about 20 lines while seated in a chair. An easy payout.

Crichton’s fears of genetic testing take Fallen Kingdom to a shark jumping (mososaur jumping?) absurdity. Tenuous, slippery tethers to the original Jurassic Park take the best work of Hollywood script doctors to function. It’s messy stuff.

… by this fifth outing, no expects much from Jurassic that isn’t about marching reptiles mowing down helpless victims

As an entrant in a new big budget giant monster movie cycle, that’s fine. Fallen Kingdom is sufficient. The child-like naivety of the script assumes someone wouldn’t discover an illicit dinosaur auction taking place in their own basement. Russian militarists buy carnivorous genetic hybrids (and here we’re worried about election tampering). This after a mournful send-off to Jurassic World’s now obliterated island, sunk by a volcano. That’s another trope – countless monster mash classics end with an abruptly erupting lava spout. Fallen Kingdom’s twist? A volcano is the first act’s catalyst.

For the second and third rounds, there’s cringe-inducing moralizing. The reformed capitalist Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), now a dinosaur savior rather than exploiter, again pairs with Owen (Chris Pratt) who into a second film, exhibits zero growth as a character. They duck and dodge dinosaur strikes, leading them to a mansion where snippets of classic Universal horror slip in. Lightning casts shadows onto walls and the creaky, uninviting mansions begs for Bela Lugosi.

If there’s something to be said about the exploitation of animals, Lost World already said it. In one callback, Fallen Kingdom directly cites a shot from Spielberg’s sequel. Claire and Owen look on as contractors snatch up dino specimens from the volcanic island. Their mouths agape, as with Goldblum and Julianne Moore before, the pair speak for the audience with their eyes.

Humans suck. People exploit and ruin everything great. That’s the brutal truth Fallen Kingdom wants to say, but needs to soften itself. A brief speech about humanity’s perpetual cycle of war breeds darker context, at least until Chris Pratt can pop out the next one-liner. Fallen Kingdom moves well past seriousness. It’s an antidote to credibility and all of the script’s crude self-reflection drags the pacing.

Audiences come to these things like insects to light. The promise of a T-Rex snapping someone in two (and that’s delivered) is too good to pass on. Drifting between the crummy dialog and routine characterization is a wildly fun dinosaur movie. No one paid to see a Jaws sequel expecting a vacation for the shark. Likewise, by this fifth outing, no one expects much from Jurassic that isn’t about marching reptiles mowing down helpless victims.

Maybe it’s too eccentric and self-indulgent. Maybe it’s repulsively dumb. Maybe it borrows as much as it creates. But at least Fallen Kingdom finds new ways for teeth to tear flesh. Lower expectations and standards – enjoy the chomp chomp.

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Every ounce of scripting dorkiness and shark jumping expected of this fifth Jurassic is here, but Fallen Kingdom eats people in the best ways.

User Review
2.67 (3 votes)

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