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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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I loved 2015’s Jurassic World, the reboot of the Jurassic Park “franchise” starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, directed by Colin Trevorrow, and co-authored by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly. Jurassic World blew away the Jurassic Park films. It is highly entertaining and also surprisingly wholesome. Along with the main attractions, the dinosaurs, Jurassic World is pro-masculine, anti-feminist, and pro-family, with an overwhelmingly white cast and virtually no political correctness. White audiences loved it since it was not calculated to offend them — and everyone else loved it too. It as close to a perfect movie as one can expect from Hollywood, and a very tough act to follow. But a movie that popular was bound to have a sequel.

That sequel is the runaway global blockbuster Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which I am delighted to announce is a superb, flawlessly entertaining film. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return as the leads, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. The script is again by Trevorrow and Connolly. But this time Spanish director J. A. Bayona is at the helm. Fallen Kingdom is thrilling and scary (but not terrifying and gross). The special effects are on such a high plane that one no longer sees CGI dinosaurs. One simply sees dinosaurs. The movie is well-paced, with lyrical and touching interludes that allow you to catch your breath between the action sequences. The diversity consists of two likable and white-presenting minorities. There are a number of extremely funny scenes. The cinematography is stunning, delivering the sublimity of nature with enormous impact. And there are sequences of pure visual magic, such as when a dinosaur transforms into a storybook dragon menacing a damsel in a tower.

As in the first movie, Claire Dearing is a stressed-out career woman. In the first film, she was running the Jurassic World park. In the new film, she is lobbying the US government to DO SOMETHING to save the dinosaurs now roaming free on Isla Nublar, who are threatened by extinction yet again by the imminent eruption of the Island’s long dormant volcano. As in the first film, she turns for help to her ex-, Owen Grady, a paleo-masculine frontiersman type. The reason they are no longer together is that Owen’s unpretentious, nature-centered lifestyle does not accord well with Claire’s feminist-urbanite idea of the good life. But Owen’s courage, mastery of machines, and literal alpha-maleness — he’s the alpha of a pack of velociraptors — prove indispensable. As in the first movie, human greed and hubris are no match for dinosaurs. All hell breaks loose, and Claire and Owen team up for survival, forming a surrogate family by protecting two boys in the first film, a girl in the new one.

When the film began, I was sad that Owen and Claire’s on-again, off-again romance was off again, as it was at the beginning of the first movie. There’s a huge amount of wholesome sexual chemistry between Owen and Claire, and we really thought it was going somewhere. Fortunately, there will be a third film. So no more on-again, off-again. No more surrogate families. We want the real thing. People this good-looking need to breed. And if Trevorrow knows what’s good for him, he needs to deliver in the third installment, which he will direct and which is due in 2021.

In truth, Fallen Kingdom is a very close and calculated remake of Jurassic World, with the same larger themes, dramatic conflicts, and dinosaur antics. But Fallen Kingdom is not a cynical, clumsy, mechanical remake, like The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi. In fact, I found the movie so captivating that the similarities didn’t even occur to me until the next day. And that really is a testament to what a virtuoso team Bayona, Trevorrow, and Connolly are.

Then again, every sequel is a highly calculated affair. Very few sequels surpass the originals, because directors and studios are afraid to take risks and cover new ground. (The Empire Strikes Back is a significant exception to this.) If you want to assure success, you repeat what came before. But there are two kinds of repetition. The Disney Star Wars formula is to behave like 70-IQ cargo cultists, who have no idea of what is essential, so they just copy everything. The other approach, exemplified in Fallen Kingdom, is to understand what was essential to the success of the previous film, to preserve that, and to make the rest as new as possible.

Just as a virtuoso pianist can take the same dots on paper that he has played and you have heard a thousand times before, and enthrall you with something that seems entirely new, spontaneous, and effortless, Fallen Kingdom recaptures everything we loved about Jurassic World and brings the story forward, ending on a very serious and sublime note, and setting us up for another sequel that I can’t wait to see.

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  1. Benjamin
    Posted July 13, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Oh yeah, I remember seeing the 2015 film in theaters when it came out and leaving absolutely stunned that it didn’t have any cultural Marxist propaganda therein

  2. dolph
    Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Yes, but does it matter? My answer is, no.

    The original Jurassic Park did. The amazement at the cgi graphics, the childhood wonder at the interesting creatures, the sense of excitement, even of possible reality. Will the dinosaurs actually be brought back?

    None of that is captured in the sequels and that is incresingly true in hollywood. It’s all recycled now, there’s no sense of any of this feeding back into the real world. It’s now total escapism so we don’t actually have to confront the hard reality that America is falling apart, a nation that no longer has any reason to exist but just to keep on going, to keep on pretending. Like a middle aged woman continually getting plastic surgery and botox.

  3. margot metroland
    Posted July 14, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I seldom see a review for a film that makes me seriously consider seeing it, but this hits the bell. I may see the previous one as well.

  4. Owlspotted
    Posted July 15, 2018 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    This review made me go and see the previous one and it really is head and shoulders above other blockbuster types. I’ll now have to see this one and find out how much the CGI has improved.

    On another note, I’ve recently started a new habit: whenever I read a current events article on here I’ll go back in the archives and listen to and/or read one of Greg’s lectures on Socratic dialogues.

    Highly rewarding.

  5. E
    Posted July 27, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    These Jurassic World films are watchable because the filmmakers made decisions at the start, and followed wherever the narrative logic took them. But this consistency is also the cause of their problems.

    At the beginning of Part 1 we see a heroine who is supposed to be operations manager of a high tech, high risk, billion dollar company. Instead she comes across as the editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine. Anna Wintour bob, Duchess of Cambridge nude heels, gross incompetence, corporate bullshitting.

    On the other side, the hero is just perfect. He is totally alpha. Even his smelly shirt is endearing.

    It’s all fine, the manosphere nods approvingly. But the problem is, the story has to move forward, the characters have to have an arch. And starting with the above premise the filmmakers have no choice but to build the woman up and tear the man down.

    So she first finds her mission (saving the annoying little nephews), then grows up to the challenge, and in the final scene she becomes larger than life and steals the show completely. In the meantime Mr. Perfect loses his alpha status when his subordinates find a new alpha, and finally ends up hiding in a dumpster while his girl stares down a T-Rex.

    End of Part 1.

    In Part 2 it would have been logical to tear her down and build him up. Break her legs, make her accidentally pregnant, lock her up as a princess in the tower, make her the virgin whom the dragon wants to devour, etc. Saving her would have provided an opportunity for the hero to regain his alpha status.

    Instead what we have is a team in which both members are equally competent. (Unintelligible hairstyle, boots.) They are brother and sister. And of course, no sex between siblings.

    The sad truth is, if we want sex in a story, we have to start with the traditional premise: a hero who needs to prove himself, and a perfect heroine – perfect not in the girl power sense, but perfect as an object of desire, a trophy, a prop. But of course no such movie can be made in Hollywood these days.

    There are a couple of other problems. Making even bigger and badder animals wouldn’t have worked for the second time, so they needed a new alpha. And it’s a… volcano! (In Part 3 it will have to be an asteroid, similar to the one that wiped out the original dinosaurs.) All these big summer blockbusters bleed into each other, but I would have preferred if they had moved in the direction of Alien. The best part of the original Jurassic film was the mystery that surrounded these creatures. That is completely lost now. It’s like full frontal nudity, the dinos are just uninteresting after a few minutes.

    Also, in Part 1 our heroes tried to save little humans from the animals, now they are trying to save animals from humans. Unfortunately I just couldn’t get past the problem that these animals are not cats or dogs but very ugly and very dangerous lizards. When the heroes pet them, it’s obscene. It feels like watching a video of vegan prophet Gary Yourofsky go to animal shelters and kiss the rescued pigs on the mouth. Ugh.

    And finally, the biggest disappointment: the red button scene, when the hero lets two emotional females decide the fate of the planet. Total soyboy. He’s just a good-looking prop now, I wonder if he will be part of Part 3 at all. They can as well leave him out completely.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted July 27, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      The girl hit the red button when the adults weren’t looking. There’s no question that it is going to be a disaster for the human race.

      Pratt will have to come back for the third movie. He’ll probably be the best paid leading man in Hollywood history by then.

      I came to the second film because of him, not the woman or the dinosaurs.

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