Monday, June 25, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Dinos Devour Box Office While Chewing Scenery


It's a perfect time to test the effectiveness of the Jurassic World franchise. After blockbuster Super hero movies like "Black Panther" and "Avengers: Infinity War," one thing is clear - people still love prehistoric thrills.

"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" deliveries a full set of teeth to make your bones chill.  In fact, it may be the most thrilling and suspenseful of all the Jurassic sequels.

The screenwriting doesn't break any new ground. Although audiences have proven they enjoy thoughtful scripts, subtext, complex interweaving of character arcs and clever dialogue, the Jurassic writers give us only enough to get us from one scene to the next.

My T-Rex - Pen, ink and charcoal on 138lb Canson
The film uses the ticking clock device to ramp up the urgency. The remaining dinosaurs from the former Jurassic World chapter are running unchecked on the abandoned and decimated resort island, which suddenly has an active volcano as one of it’s prime inhabitants. Why an entertainment corporation would build a resort on an island with deadly volcanic activity is beyond me. Apparently it’s beyond the filmmakers too, as evidenced by their absence of an explanation, their limited vision, or their lack of integrity for story. (since this writing a friend has explained that many Pacific islands are built on or from volcanic history, and it's not unusual for one to suddenly split ground and go boom).

But wait – the red head played by Bryce Dallas Howard with the perpetual bangs somehow avoided culpability from the previous Jurassic massacre and now runs a “Save the Dinosaurs” club. Instead of making reparations to all the tourists who were killed or maimed by escaped dinos, she raises money to save the priceless dino creatures before the volcanic lava can make fossils of them. I’m sure her assistant who was dragged through the air by multiple pteranodons before being swallowed by a giant Jurassic Shark in the last film feels rejoiced by Red Head Bangs’ efforts.

Red Head gets her funding for the rescue mission from John Hammond's first and never before mentioned partner in research – who wakes up from his hospital bed nap in time to help Bangs preserve the sincerity of Hammond’s original vision.

Bangs enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend Chris Pratt “Starlord” from Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War, because he is the key to tracking the most important dino – the velociraptor named Blue, who is the only dino trained since birth to show obedience to man.

When their island expedition of militant sidekicks double crosses Bangs and Starlord (henceforth called “StarBangs”) they are left to die amidst encroaching lava so the dinos can be auctioned for millions each on the black market.
J.A. Bayona is pretty good directing action, and the peril proves threatening and entertaining simultaneously.
With the introduction of a new hybrid Frankenstein dinosaur that is trained to kill on command things quickly get out of hand.

One great feature the animators and modelers have given the new dinosaur is a touch of borrowed behavioral traits. The Indoraptor gallops through hallways like a horse in a steeplechase. It writhes its way through elevators and staircases like a modern day xenomorph from James Cameron’s “Aliens.” Not only does the Indoraptor tap his big toe in homage to Spielberg’s original velociraptor – it also smiles and plays dead before it kills ya.

Jeff Goldblum makes his reappearance as Dr. Ian Malcom, testifying that the dinos had their chance - they went extinct centuries earlier, and we need to correct the error of mad scientists who restored them to life. Unfortunately, the dinos flee en-masse to the city outskirts, where according the Dr. Malcom they will soon accelerate the extinction of mankind.

I’m not expecting the Jurassic franchise to become “Planet of the Dinosaurs”, but one can only hope for a sequel where thrills and suspense are accompanied by a metaphor, perhaps one which comments on the arrogance of mankind and his insistence upon continually trying to profit at the expense of a less developed or primitive species.

If you are aware of the inhumane treatment of animals in the meat and poultry industry, it stands to reason that the exploitation of any species - dinosaur or dog is wrong. It makes good sense – and good cinema - for future filmmakers to weave science, ambition, action and peril with a good dose of ethical subtext. The results will allow the audience to think as well as scream.   

No comments: