Though it wasn’t necessarily inevitable that the Jurassic Park franchise would get this far 25 years after it began, it was inevitable that if it did get this far the animals themselves would be portrayed as victims rather than whatever it is these days qualifies as the opposite of victims. When last we visited Isla Nubar, where the uber theme park Jurassic World imploded thanks to the double dealings of 0ne-percenters who saw money in cloning dinosaurs for nefarious purposes, it seemed obvious that humans and big lizards would never get along and so they were left to their own devices, so to speak. Now, it turns out, the island is undergoing volcanic activity that threatens a second extinction for the dinosaurs left there, so naturalist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallace Howard) and her team of bleeding hearts once again enlist the help of dino wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to help them evacuate the beasts to somewhere safer.
Of course, such a noble and ambitious enterprise requires money, and the team is funded by a rich old guy in a wheelchair (James Cromwell) who wants the animals brought to a private island he owns. The old guy was, in fact, part of the team that helped bring about the first batch of reconstituted dinosaurs back in the day. You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg to see where this plot vector is going, but the writers and director J.A. Bayona can’t leave well enough alone and not only bring in a whole new species of thunder lizard (with an appropriately confusing zoological explanation for its genesis), but several action subplots to justify it, and all they really justify is more work for the FX crew, who earn their paychecks at the expense of the viewer’s peace of mind.
And in that sense, Fallen Kingdom may be the best Jurassic movie since the original, since it reawakens the wonder that the first movie engaged in us. But that wonder is quickly subsumed in a plotline that zigs and zags so violently you forget that this movie is supposed to be about leaving nature alone. Every story development, whether it’s saving one dinosaur by giving it a blood transfusion from another one, or distracting a predator by forcing it to run into an ambush, is predicated on the idea of making the movie as long and teeth-gratingly suspenseful at possible, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what people pay for. But when Jeff Goldblum cameos not once but twice to advocate for allowing the monsters to die on the island, you can’t help but see his point. Fallen Kingdom simply saves dinosaurs once again for our own exploitative amusement.
Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Hibiya (0506868-5068), Shinjuku Wald 9 (03-5369-4955), Shinjuku Picadilly (03-5367-1144), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Toho Cinemas Shibuya (050-6868-5002), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024), Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro (03-3982-6388), Toho Cinemas Ueno (050-6868-5066).
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom home page in Japanese.
photo (c) 2017 Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment Inc.