Because unnecessary franchises always find a way, this year we got a sequel to the reboot that was Jurassic World. If you thought that story of a Starbucks-filled theme park being destroyed by a genetic dinobomination seemed unnecessarily convoluted, get ready for an erupting volcano, secret clones, and a surprising amount of time spent inside a freaking house. Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, maybe the dumbest blockbuster of 2018 outside of Ready Player One. Spoilers below, but who cares?
The Villains' Plan Makes No Damn Sense
After trotting out Jeff Goldblum to reprise his role as Ian Malcolm (either because the producers paid him a bunch of money or lied and told him the set was piano bar that needed his services), we meet the villain of the piece: Eli Mills, who is planning to extract all the dinosaurs from Jurassic World, which is parked under an active volcano. He tells our hero Claire that he wants to move them to a dino-preserve, but really he wants to auction them off to the highest bidder because, brace yourself, the "Fallen Kingdom" is America.
So Mills invites Claire and her rugged friend Owen to help out, because they're after one animal in particular -- Owen's velociraptor bestie Blue.
This means they're bringing along a group of people who will ultimately foil their plans just to grab one raptor. Even weirder, we find out that they only really wanted Blue's DNA, so they could have just killed her and taken some samples. Or they could have looked for one of the many dead raptors littering the park (as they did with the Indominus Rex skeleton), thus saving the bad guys from having to bring Indiana Jones' understudy along in the first place.
Once they have the dinosaurs primed for their clandestine Eyes Wide Shut orgy mansion gathering, Mills starts auctioning off the dinosaurs ... for surprisingly paltry amounts. The Indoraptor, a big bad new dinosaur, is only worth $28 million. One of the dinosaurs goes for a mere $10 million -- around a quarter of what private buyers in the real world are spending on dinosaur fossils. And sure, that's still a lot of money, but look at how many expenses these guys had, from renovating a secret laboratory and cloning facility to basically hiring a goddamn army to transport the dinosaurs.
You have to wonder how much they're actually netting here. Also, who are all of these rich guys buying dinosaurs? The Indoraptor is billed as some kind of ultimate weapon -- all you do is point a laser sight at what you want killed, and moments later, it attacks!
So yeah, it truly is the ultimate killing machine, at least until somebody invents a portable device that could murder nearby people quicker and for less than $30 million and doesn't require food or an entire dinosaur. That'll be the day.
The Movie Went Full Orphan Black
Fallen Kingdom retcons Jurassic Park so that John Hammond had a partner, Benjamin Lockwood, whom he never bothered to mention for some reason. This is especially strange because this poor old codger even keeps a portrait of his old friend turned bitter enemy in the front hall of his house ... which, now that we're saying it, is a damn weird thing to do.
We learn that Hammond and Lockwood fell out due the latter's interest in human cloning. But oddly, Lockwood's house is full of dinosaur stuff. So it seems the pair set out to create a dinosaur clone park, but as a result of that venture, they realized they could apply the technology to perfectly clone humans? They fell ass-backwards into one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time, like if the founders of Six Flags inadvertently stumbled upon a perpetual motion machine while designing roller coasters.
Did they tell anyone? Nope. Instead of, say, sharing their technology to, say, perfectly clone human organs and tissue to save lives and revolutionize the world as a whole, they kept it a secret. Lockwood decided instead to make a clone of his dead daughter, whom he now claims is his granddaughter.
The ending finds this little girl realizing she's a clone, and saving the dinosaurs because they're "like her," thus unleashing a horde of murderous creatures on an unsuspecting public. The final shot is of a velociraptor perched at the edge of suburban neighborhood.
This tees up an exciting sequel in which innocent families are torn to bloody shreds set to the inspiring themes of John Williams. Wow!
Our Main Characters Are Simply Baffling
How many people died in the first Jurassic World due to Claire's negligence? Well, for some reason, she's not in jail at the start of this movie. In fact, she's done a 180 since the last time we saw her -- not just abandoning heels for flats, but also working as an activist trying to save the dinosaurs, even though they tried to eat her and her family. This is a little like abandoning your career to volunteer full-time at a bird sanctuary in response to being almost murdered by a roving gang of emus.
Then there's Zia the paleo-veterinarian, which is apparently a thing. Most conspicuously, Zia mentions that she's never seen a dinosaur in real life before.
Wait, what is your job, exactly? Could someone work as a regular veterinarian if they'd never even seen a dog before? Even if she somehow never worked with a live dinosaur, she wouldn't have at least popped by Jurassic World to see what they were like? And for that matter, why wouldn't she work at Jurassic World instead of, for instance, Owen, who is decidedly not a paleo-veterinarian? And speaking of Owen ...
It Tries To Rework The Themes Of The Original, And Fails Miserably
We've talked before about how the original Jurassic Park is all about the fear of becoming a parent. It's both in the text (Alan and Ellie's discussions about kids) and in the subtext (visual metaphors for parenting like ultrasounds and piles of poop). Fallen Kingdom tries to force that same theme on its characters for no damn reason. Jurassic World made the problematic suggestion that Claire, as a woman with a career, A) can't have a family and B) must have a family, and this movie similarly continues that. Claire, now that she's not bogged down with a high-paying job, is free to embrace her maternal instincts ... but she sucks at it.
The clone kid Maisie, whom Claire reaches out to, prefers Owen. Claire is still awkwardly adjusting to connecting with kids, whereas Owen represents an old-fashioned masculine head of a nuclear family. So much so that his introduction here has him building a shelter.
Since Maisie prefers Owen, it means that Claire's desire for a family is filtered through this dude. Which is a problem. In Jurassic Park, Ellie and Alan were already expressing anxieties over parenthood. Here the same theme is shoehorned in, even though Claire and Owen aren't even a couple anymore, and certainly aren't talking about having kids.
And weirdest of all, Owen's arc finds him swapping his paternal love for one clone to another. In a supposedly touching finale, he says goodbye to Blue, the velociraptor he raised, and wistfully watches as she wanders off to presumably slaughter countless civilians.
And immediately after, Maisie takes Blue's place.
While the ending of Jurassic Park found Alan bonding with Lex and Tim, signaling to Ellie that his feelings toward children had evolved, here they take that idea and make it painfully literal. Alan thankfully didn't kidnap those kids, but this movie ends with Claire and Owen just taking Maisie.
What was a simple story about conquering your fears of parenthood somehow turned into two halves of a failed relationship illegally adopting a small girl they barely know and driving ... somewhere. (Hopefully to Ian Malcolm's house.)
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Sometimes the stories after the stories are even stranger.
For as much as people love them, the 'Star Wars' movies have gotten rather awkward from time to time.
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Going for that 16th minute.