Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a lot working against it. It’s the sequel to 2015’s wildly successful Jurassic World, which made over 1.6 billon dollars worldwide. This time around there is a new director, J.A. Bayona, and a mostly new cast alongside Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprising their roles. This is a challenge that any movie would have a difficulty overcoming but there is something else baked into the cake that stacks the odds even higher against it. Lost World: Jurassic Park had the same problem. How do you make a Jurassic Park movie after the theme park falls apart? Lost World couldn’t figure it out and that resulted in a bit of a mess that lacked a clear direction. Unfortunately, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom couldn’t overcome these obstacles, most specifically the last one.

To be generous, the screenplay for Fallen Kingdom is a mess. Derek Connolly and Collin Trevorrow returned to write this movie, and their script lacked direction and focus. There seemed to be a lot of ideas crammed into this movie, which made for a mess of a story. New characters were introduced but there wasn’t much more than a line of dialogue to provide their development. That’s how the story felt as a whole. Storylines were introduced but no time was given for development, which leads to a flat story. Another problem with the screenplay was the lack of a narrative to tie the story together. It’s hard to say what Fallen Kingdom is really about. There are a lot of things going on but those things don’t seem to be servicing a larger story. A narrative would be presented but it’s quickly dispatched to do something else. The best example of this is the volcano on Isla Nublar. The volcano is set to erupt which will kill all of the remaining dinosaurs on the island and render them extinct, once again. This possibility leads Claire (Howard) and Owen (Pratt) back to the island to rescue the dinosaurs. This premise works well enough; it gets our characters back to the island, which is what we all want. The problem is this storyline is abandoned shortly after it starts. As soon as they get to the island, they are led to find Blue and the volcano erupts. From there we get a couple of poorly conceived action set pieces, one that includes a gyrosphere that is randomly placed and still working after three years, and they are off the island. This is such a waste. Fallen Kingdom could have been a really good action movie, had they only had to escape the island. It would have allowed time for tension to build which would have made those action set pieces resonate more. Instead we get a haphazard look at what could have been interesting.

The problem with the screenplay stretched far past the island. As I said before the movie lacked a clear direction, this is its biggest problem. There are several different stories vying for screen time, because of this nothing really sticks. If they could have settled on one, it would have been a much better story. Instead we get an overcomplicated mess. It feels overcomplicated because there is no time given to anything. We are introduced to a black market for dinosaurs and even a dinosaur auction. This doesn’t carry any weight because it didn’t make much sense as to why it was happening. It seemed to lead up to the introduction of the new dinosaur created for this movie, the Indoraptor, which is a hybrid of Indominus Rex and Velociraptor. Why this exists is incredibly confusing and it was never bothered to be explained. It was seemingly made to be a weapon but this was an unsuccessful attempt, however it was sold at the auction anyway and accidentally let out of its cage to reek havoc. This leads to another problem with this movie, almost every character acts as stupidly as possible every chance they get. You can start at the opening of the film when a team goes to get a tooth from an Indominus Rex and leaves a cage open, ultimately letting a dinosaur into the ocean. There is also Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), the hunter in charge of trafficking the dinosaurs. He collects dinosaur teeth, for an unspecified reason, constantly shouts about being paid and walks into the Indoraptor’s cage and leaves the door open. Lastly there is Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). He is the big bad in this story and is the source of all the havoc. He manipulates Claire to go to the island to get Blue, sells the dinosaurs out of the mansion he is currently living in and sells the raptor when he shouldn’t. All of the mistakes mentioned were avoidable and only happened because the story needed them to happen. Nothing in Fallen Kingdom felt organic or natural, because of the that it wasn’t an enjoyable experience.

The Jurassic franchise may not always have the best films but they have entertaining ones. Fallen Kingdom however falls short of even being entertaining. There are too many odd things going on that need to be tuned out. Basic storytelling rules are being ignored and nothing really makes sense. There doesn’t seem to be any clear reasons as to why any of the characters are doing what they are doing. There are characters whose existences in the story don’t even make sense. There is a paleo-doctor that has never seen or touched a dinosaur. Rather than this being some thing fun to play around with she successfully performs surgery on a raptor who also requires a blood transfusion from a T-Rex. This doesn’t make any sense and more importantly it didn’t need to happen, but it was there because we needed a thrilling scene with a T-Rex, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Between the poor storytelling and the overstuffed themes, Fallen Kingdom never stood a chance. There isn’t anything redeemable about this movie and no real reason for anyone to watch it. This movie is frustratingly bad. I love this franchise and Fallen Kingdom is by far the worst of the franchise and one of the worst movies from this year. Don’t watch this; just watch Jurassic Park again.

1 1/2 Stars out of 5

Director: J.A. Bayona

Writers: Derek Connolly, Collin Trevorrow & Michael Crichton

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda & Jeff Goldblum

Release Date: June 22nd 

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hours and 8 minutes

Image Credit: Jurassic World

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