As you read this review, I would like you to hum a song — any song — from the original soundtrack to 1993’s Jurassic Park. I would like you to do this for two reasons. One, because that soundtrack is awesome and we all need more of it in our life and two, because Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hired someone fresh out of film composing school to write their soundtrack, despite the fact that they had access to the best soundtrack John Williams ever wrote. Are you humming? Ok. Good. Here we go.
I will start simply. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a dumpster fire of the grandest proportions. I know that sounds harsh. People will disagree with me and fight with me and insist that the dino-fights make up for it, but I will not yield. This movie is a stupid disaster of a film that doesn’t even have the grace to be self-aware about the fact that it is complete and utter garbage.
Look, I can forgive a movie a lot of things. I champion a lot of really silly movies that others hate. But this movie is just dumb. Its characters are dumb. Its plot is dumb. Its action scenes are dumb. And — worst than dumb — its action scenes are BORING! How do you take dinosaurs attacking people (and sometimes other dinosaurs) and make that boring? I don’t know. Ask J.A. Bayona, because he managed it somehow. The problem here is that there is absolutely nothing to care about in this movie. You won’t care about the main characters or the dinosaurs or mankind, for that matter. In fact, after watching this movie, you will probably hope for mankind being replaced by dinosaurs in the upcoming dino-pocalypse.
There is the briefest of moments when you might think this movie will double-down on the cautionary tale of humans meddling in the affairs of God. Nope. You might have the passing thought that this movie is about a boy and his dog (or man-eating proto-chicken), but that little love story ends almost as soon as it starts. Okay. Then maybe it’s about Claire and Owen falling in love for real this time and living happily ever after. Nuh-uh. I seriously have no idea what this movie is supposed to be about. It’s just dinosaur action scenes strung together with a plot executed by mustache-twirling, overacting villains.
The special effects aren’t even that good! Oh, the dinosaurs look as real as ever, but they change scale constantly. The newly created Frankenstein dinosaur (called the Indoraptor in a not-so-clever nod to the made-up dinosaur of the last movie), is huge in some scenes and then small enough to fit through a bedroom window in others. I guess it’s possible that Doc Henry bred this into its DNA, but if that’s the case, the movie never mentions it. It’s not the only dinosaur to mysteriously change scale, though. A T-Rex also seems to fit in the bed of a not-even-long truck.
I’m also not entirely sure what genre they’re even aiming for anymore. The first Jurassic Park was primarily science-fiction, full of wonder and majesty. John Williams’ score and Steven Spielberg’s directing took us on a journey of warning, sure, but also of enlightenment and thrilling excitement. This movie has lost all of it. There is no wonder. No excitement. Even the characters are over dinosaurs.
Is there anything redeeming about this film? Not really… at least not enough to make it fun to watch. The beefcake Chris Pratt and the beautiful Bryce Dallas Howard are both as charming as they’re allowed to be, and there are a few jokes that land (though you’ve seen most of them in the trailers). Jeff Goldblum has about five minutes of screen time that’s pretty great, but it does meta-portend the end of the franchise about as much as it does the in-movie situation. James Cromwell stands in for Richard Attenborough (in spirit, not the actual character) with the very best acting he can muster. But none of this can save this tragic mistake of a movie.
Dinosaurs are very compelling. I get it. You’re probably going to go watch this movie anyway, and hey — you might even have a good time — but that will not change the fact that this is a horribly made, poorly constructed failure of cinema. At best, the makers of this film tried really hard and just couldn’t pull it together. At worst, they simply didn’t care because they knew we’d all shell out the dough to watch dinosaurs on the big screen. Either way, it’s bad.