When are people going to learn to step messing with these dinosaurs?
The most creatively bankrupt franchise in Hollywood has returned with another retread of the same idea that Steven Spielberg mastered in 1993. The original Jurassic Park is one of the best blockbuster-style films ever made. It has inspired a series of sequels and reboots with the recently released Jurassic world: Fallen Kingdom being the fourth failed attempt to recreate the magic of the original. Falling Kingdom does however have the unique spin of begin not only a sequel to a reboot, but a reboot itself of the original sequel, The Lost World- Jurassic Park. This compounding of sequels and reboots means that nearly the entirety of this film has been seen before in some capacity.
2015’s Jurassic World was a reboot of the original Jurassic Park, and it followed the original nearly beat for beat. As a result, it managed to rise up to the rank of solid imitation, which has enabled it to be the second highest rated film in the franchise. To the film’s credit, it was not completely without some originality. One of the highlights was the meta-narrative describing the need for constant escalation in entertainment. The creation of the Indominus Rex was a result of needing to up the ante because people had actually become bored with dinosaurs. This absurdist aspect of the film was particularly interesting in that it not only described this particular series, but Hollywood as a whole which is in constant need to escalate, and create bigger and bigger films, stunts and effects. While interesting, this detail is somewhat trivial and only served as a nice cherry on a solid dino-action flick.
Three years later, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has lost all of Jurassic World’s self-awareness and opts to be a very typical and by the numbers summer action film- except that this one has dinosaurs. If you have seen the trailer for the film, you pretty much know everything that is going to happen in the film. If you have also seen some of the trailers for this film, then you know basically everything that happens. Any remaining gaps in the sequence can be filled in with D.N.A. from The Lost World.
Other than the third film, which at least has the best premise outside the original, each of the sequels follows the same formula: Rich man wants dinosaurs, rich man wants to control/profit off of dinosaurs, cue gathering up of dinosaurs, sh*t hits the fan when everything inevitably goes awry, heroes save the day (kind of), rich man gets comeuppance when he gets eaten by dinosaur. The rich man in this film is a rogue Andy who wants to collect the dinosaurs off the doomed island and sell them on a sort of black market. In the Lost World it was a new park, in Fallen Kingdom it is an auction. Whatever; it is the same general plot with a different pair of shoes.
In addition to repeating The Lost World, this film repeats Jurassic World by creating a new dinosaur…again. I can picture the boardroom meeting, “Alright, we’re going to create a dinosaur again. Except this time, instead of being really big, it’s gonna be small. See ‘ya T-Rex clone, hello raptor clone!” And that is essentially the entire film. It is exactly what you expect it to be.
Oh hey look, another clone. Oh, and there is a new dinosaur here too.
All of this being said, it is not necessarily a bad film, just predictable. There are some interesting shots and scenes with a couple of nice long takes adding some flair to the otherwise standard action. It has all the necessary competence to not become a jumbled mess, but competence cannot protect you from stale ideas, which is where this film really suffers. This film combined with the previous one give off the impression that this series is going nowhere because no one can figure out how to make anything new with these dang dinosaurs. There are reasons that the previous film was essentially a sequel to the original, and that this film is essentially a remake of The Lost World. Unless the people behind this series can figure out a fresh take, then this franchise is going to rapidly decline. For all the money it has made (nearly $5 billion worldwide) there are only two films that have ratings above mediocre. This is not sustainable, and audiences will begin to turn unless another good film can actually be made with these dinosaurs. Average films such as this one create not enthusiasm for the franchise, and if a franchise with the name power of Star Wars can suffer from it, the Jurassic Park/World will crumble if no good ideas come out in the next couple of years.
However, not all hope is lost. There is a silver lining behind this beige cloud. Fallen Kingdom ends with a bunch of dinosaurs being set free to roam the wilderness of North America, and terrorize every camper and hiker west of the Rockies. That there is now a Tyrannosaurus Rex lumbering around somewhere in Northern California could perfectly set the stage for an interesting idea that this series is in desperate need of. It is the kind of twist and change that could actually result in the first original film for this franchise since 2001. We can only wait and see if Universal and the brain-trust behind this franchise are able to this into something run and interesting, but there is way out of the tunnel for this floundering franchise.