Tag Archives: T-Rex

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

28 Jun

 

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” arrives in theaters this week with plenty of dino-wow, as one might hope, but with a bronto-sized side of mommy issues and some sustainability woes to boot. Which to tackle first? Hopefully you’re up on what went down in “Jurassic World,” the 2015 relaunch of the “Jurassic Park” franchise made so indelibly by Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton back in the 1990s. Those first three “Parks” dug deep into our imaginations, with their all-too realistic renderings of T-Rex and lethally heeled velociraptors, and they slew at the box office. “World” marked a respectable redux, but “Fallen Kingdom,” gets weighed down with a fossil-heavy backstory and never quite achieves the amusement ride thrill that made its ancestors such scary good fun.

As with all the “Jurassic” flicks, the action begins down in Costa Rica, at the theme park from the last chapter that’s been abandoned and overrun by rampaging dinos. The crisis du jour becomes increasing volcanic activity that threatens to “re-extinct” the “de-extinct” lizards (okay, birds). Congressional debate rages about saving them or not and, blessedly, Jeff Goldblum looms at the epicenter with rapturous logician metababble; then, just like that, the crew from the last “World” – the park overseer (Bryce Dallas Howard) and raptor wrangler (Chris Pratt) – are back as part of a conservation effort to get as many of the dinos as possible off the island and to a “sanctuary.”

The pair go in at the behest of a benevolent billionaire (James Cromwell, in a requisite but wispy role) who partners them with a team of big game hunters that feel a lot like the bunch from the second film, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” (1997) and are led by Ted Levine, surprisingly not too far from his Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs.” There’s a lot of Spielberg DNA to be found in “Fallen Kingdom” – Pratt’s smug, everyman posturing and action sequences feel right out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but just because you clone something doesn’t mean you get exactly what came before. That brings us back to those mommy issues: There’s a precocious little girl by the name of Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who may or may not be the billionaire’s granddaughter, and there’s Blue, the empathetic raptor from the last “World” raised by Pratt’s Owen, who holds the key to controlling the new line of mega-raptors being weaponized for trade and profit. Yes, sadly it all comes down to military-industrial complex shenanigans, avarice and hidden agendas.

Given the one-percenter station of many of the players in the film with their fingers on the stings, I kept asking myself, how much is too much? Why do billionaires need a lousy 20 million for ankylosaurs? The answer to which can only be power and control. The pomp and arrogance through which it’s executed feels far too profound a metaphor for the carnivorous control that’s taking hold across the country these days. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but given the big, bloody slab being dangled, one has to bite.

The film’s natural subtext of “don’t mess with Mother Nature” – because payback’s a tooth and claw feng shui session – gets executed with perfunctory perfection at the apt hour. The wrap-up of the film, directed by Spanish director J. A. Bayona, best known for the arthouse horror film “The Orphanage” (2007), becomes its most provocative and resonant moment. Much of what precedes it is dull despite all the thrashing, and it doesn’t help that all the combative-romantic chemistry between Pratt and Howard in the last “World” has seemingly gone the way of the dodo (no, they have not been brought back yet). Overall, “Fallen Kingdom” makes it feel like the series might be done for, even though where we end feels like a launching pad – a place of opportunity, laden with possibility.

Jurassic World

12 Jun

Jurassic World is bigger and badder than its predecessors, but we really miss the original cast

Jurassic Work

It’s been nearly 15 years since the last Jurassic Park installment, and a lot has changed in the world: 9/11 rocked and divided our nation as the War on Terror took root, smartphones replaced cumbersome cellphones, and GMOs have become talking points at cocktail parties. What’s all this have to do with the revival of the dino-park movie franchise based on the slim yet innovative novel by Michael Crichton and initially helmed by Stephen Spielberg?

The answer is everything. Like the problem of a bigger, meaner and more thrilling wow (read: dangerous) that confronts the conglomerate structure behind Jurassic World, the filmmakers spinning out Jurassic World are saddled with the burden of outdoing what came before. The good news is that the quality of special FX has come light-years.

Today, people caught in the middle of a dino herd don’t look like they’re being shot against a screen and pasted into a jerkily moving computer rendering; they’re now seamlessly in there with the “real” possibility of being trampled or squashed or snatched up by the genetically engineered Indominus Rex, the new badass on the block, cooked up in a lab by a bunch of avaricious DNA jockeys to scare the shit out of money-paying vacationers seeking an adrenaline rush just to know they’re alive.

At the park on a lush tropical island off the coast of Costa Rica, at any time, there are some 20,000 people being run through the vast array of exhibits and rides and fleeced for cash with the rapier efficiency of a Disney or Sea World. Money is a driving force at Jurassic World, and in the birthing lab, there too looms a myriad of hidden agendas and covert, need-to-know data points — like who’s DNA went into good ole Indominus — that breeds malcontent and dubious action.

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