On my first visit to a Hollywood studio to pitch a project the executives were sufficiently impressed with the computer requirements in one project to have an employee show me around the premises and meet staff. One of the places I was allowed to see was their brand new digital magic workshop.
They sat me down in front of a medium-sized screen in an editing suite and, talked through by a kindly gentleman in a grey suit looking rather like ‘Q’ from James Bond, I watched a series of computer generated animations edited together as one 15 minute presentation. One of them was a dinosaur walking through a prehistoric jungle. I was impressed. “Hey, that could make a great film” I exclaimed. He nodded, proud of his department’s work. That was three years before the first Jurassic Park awed us with amazing widescreen invention. Now the world is full of dinosaur movies, documentaries, books and bones.
The latest version of the franchise, Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom is one masshoosive disappointment. I can hear the executives saying ‘who cares’ – there’s an inbuilt audience of millions willing to pay again to see a half-heated blockbuster version of the last plot.
Fallen Kingdom is alternatively long stretches of boring exposition followed by dinosaurs screaming in somebody’s face and then tearing a goat or a human to shreds.
The plot is barely plausible if coincidentally topical. A volcano is about to blow its top and destroy the island on which all the dinosaurs co-exist, Isla Nublar, well, sort of co-exist; why they have not all eaten each other, run out of food to satisfy their gargantuan appetites, or choked in a mountain of their own poo is a mystery. Actually, look closely and anus and genitals are missing.
A mad millionaire plans to airlift them all to a new island because he has a soft spot for rampaging dinosaurs, and is clearly ‘saft in the heid’. Unfortunately he has employed an egomaniac as a personal assistant who promptly betrays the old twit and plans to round up the monsters for himself to auction them off, an auction presumably organised by Sotheby’s. Without fail a cretin leaves a cage door unlocked. Carnivorous carnage ensues.
Running around among all these armoured legs and bawling throats is navy veteran Owen Grady played again by Chris Pratt, previously the dinosaur wrangler. He’s been commissioned to round up a few of the animals and hopes to find his loveable raptor again, Blue. But he reckons without the meddling interference of his old girlfriend Claire Dearing, once more played by red haired Bryce Dallas Howard. (Somehow her triple name doesn’t have the same ring as Catherine Zeta Jones.) At least in this adventure she is not running around screaming while wearing high-heeled shoes.
In the mix is a young computer geek, (Justice Smith) and a terrified little girl, (Isabella Sermon) granddaughter of the millionaire with zoo keeping ambitions. The film is a Spielberg produced project; there has to be a moany lost kid in it somewhere.
At various points Toby Jones pops up as an easily swayed rogue trader ready and willing to auction the animals, and Geraldine Chaplin as the little girl’s anxious nanny – a long way away from the great Dr Zhivago – both grossly underused and exploited. James Cromwell is restricted to a bed with blood drips stuck up his nose as pegging out millionaire Benjamin Lockwood.
Eccentric Jeff Goldblum tops and tails this sorry story doing his big rolling eyes number a feely fingers routine. There are other actors bumping into dinosaurs and furniture but frankly my hands are losing the ability to type.
I’m finding it real hard to say anything positive about this dog’s dinner. It’s all too frantic and repetitious. There’s not much fun in it or watching it. The best moment is the prologue, everything is is all down hill literally and figuratively from then on.
If you are a fan of dinosaur movies you’ll like this one. As well as a man-made dinosaur trained to kill on command as a war machine, (easily destroyed with one rocket!) a secretly cooked up a super-smart predator called Indominus Rex, there are more dinosaurs per frame in this iteration that in any of the others, if that’s a plus.
Here is one line of dialogue to prove it a turkey:
Owen: I know why we’re here. A rescue op, save the dinosaurs from an island that’s about to explode. What could go wrong?
I guess Owen was being sarcastic but that lines sums up the plot and the stereotyped characters. If looking for something new and fresh take a walk around your local botanic garden and admire the flowers ad shrubs and trees, or if you live in Europe have a stroll around the fish and meat stalls of your local market. You’ll get a lot more from them than this film and you get to meet people without killing them.
Truth be told, the wonder of seeing dinosaurs come to life has long since evaporated.
- Star Rating: Two stars
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall
- Director: J.A. Bayona
- Writer: Colin Treverrow, Derek Connolly
- Cinematographer: Oscar Faura
- Composer: Michael Giacchino
- Duration: 2 hours 9 minutes
- RATING CRITERIA
- 5 plus: potential classic, innovative. 5: outstanding. 4: excellent. 3.5: excellent but flawed. 3: very good if formulaic. 2: straight to DVD. 1: crap; why did they bother?