Hi, all —
So just to be clear, just because I’m fangirling does not mean I’m not aware of the giant steaming bucket of fuck that is our world right now. It just means that sometimes, you need to do some self-care, and for me, that involves escape into movies, TV shows, books, and comics.
And with that in mind, I went to see the latest installment in the Jurassic World (spun off the earlier Jurassic Park) franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
OH! SPOILERS BELOW!
Okay. Fun fact: I (me, Andi) was OBSESSED with dinosaurs when I was a little kid. My folks used to take me to the Denver Museum of Natural History (now the Denver Museum of Nature and Science) all the freaking time to see the dino skeletons and I was maybe 4 and explaining the dinos to any adults who were nearby. I knew all the names, their diets, and what era they lived in. So you see, friends, I was a geek from the get-go (and yes, my career list in elementary school and junior high included “paleontologist”).
And that’s why even with the trope-ish plots of some of these Jurassic Park/Jurassic World movies, I still love to see them, because of the dinosaurs. The special effects that created these are amazing.
So every time one of these is released, I’m, like, first in line, and I’m the little kid at the Museum staring up at the dinosaur skeletons for hours imagining what it would be like to see one in real life. So in that regard, the Jurassic franchise feeds the kid I was, and I haven’t lost (thank God) those parts of myself.
At any rate, like Jurassic Park (remember those movies from the 90s? I still love them), Jurassic World was a giant tourist trap that allowed people to see the genetically engineered dinosaurs on their island habitat. For those who saw Jurassic World (2015), the first in this installment of the dino-franchise, you know that Chris Pratt played the trainer Owen who worked with the young velociraptors, and that will come into play in Fallen Kingdom.
Basically, the 2015 movie was kind of a re-hash of Jurassic Park, in which the arrogance of humans demonstrates that you can’t cage nature, and all hell breaks loose and dinos overrun the Jurassic World theme park, and everybody abandons ship and leaves the dinosaurs to their island habitat.
That’s kind of where Fallen Kingdom picks up. The opening scenes have guys in a submersible trying to retrieve part of a bone from one of the dinosaurs from the 2015 movie; the skeleton is lying at bottom of the ocean just off the island and of course, you know this is Not A Good Thing because, trope — whenever dudes start messing with DNA shit, things always go sideways.
At any rate, ten minutes in, you know shit is going to go sideways.
Cut to the next scene, which deals with a big congressional battle over the efficacy of preserving the dinosaurs on the island or evacuating them because, as the trailer demonstrates, the dino island is about to be destroyed by a volcano. So you now have the set-up between dino-conservationists who want to save the dinos however possible (and these include Claire [played by Bryce Dallas Howard], from the first JW movie, who was the uptight manager of the theme park), and those who think nature should take its course. An ironic sort of view, since humans basically played nature and engineered all the dinos.
Enter our stressful subplot that will drive the rest of this movie: Claire gets a call from a secretive billionaire funder guy (Benjamin Lockwood, partner to Jurassic Park’s founder John Hammond) on his last legs who has created a place to put some of the dinos. He’s got an evac plan in motion, but they can’t save all the dinos. That’s okay — Claire’s into saving as many as they can. And one of those dinos is a really intelligent velociraptor Blue, that her ex, Chris Pratt’s character, had a bond with. So she goes to roust him to go back to the island and re-activate the tracking systems in order to tell the billionaire’s team where the dinos are so they can start evac proceedings, including Blue, who is the world’s last living velociraptor.
Owen and Claire are accompanied by a young IT dude named Franklin (Justice Smith) and paleo-vet (for reals) Zia Rodriguez (Danielle Pineda), who is super-salty but I loved it.
While on the island, our team finds out that the billionaire’s primary assistant guy has basically hijacked the op (unbeknownst to Lockwood) and it going to take the dinos back to the estate and auction them as bioweapons to arms dealers. Yep. He is the movie’s super douche.
So basically, our team has to somehow get off the volcanically screwed island (great special effects in that regard) onto the transport back to the mainland. While doing that, they’re captured and put in a cell on the estate, which also has lab facilities for engineering more dinos.
Fairly predictable plot, with the exception of a twist that kind of caught me off guard regarding the billionaire’s young granddaughter, but I DON’T CARE BECAUSE I LOVE WATCHING THESE DAMN DINOSAURS.
And there are a bunch of faves we’ve already seen — velociraptor, brachiosaurus, T-Rex, mososaur, ankylosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, and of course hybrids, like the scary-ass indoraptor, which is derived from a velociraptor and the first Jurassic World’s super-dino, indominus rex (also a hybrid). I mean, seriously, this movie has TONS of dino-action, which suits me JUST FINE THANK YOU because I’m all, PWP? when it comes to watching dinos on the big screen.
Plus, Fallen Kingdom introduced other dinos (cool vid about them at the link), like the carnivorous allosaurus (like mini T-rex in some ways); the hard-headed stygimoloch (there is debate about its genus and whether it’s actually a juvenile form of another dino); the carnivorous hunter baryonyx; carnotaurus (another carnivorous dino that played a big role in Michael Crichton’s books but not in previous Jurassic movies); and sinoteratops (a dinosaur found in China).
YES I AM A DINO GEEK SO WHAT
At any rate, I also appreciated Claire’s character evolution since the 2015 movie — much more relaxed than in the first movie, and much more likable. I thought her rapport with Pratt was much better this time around, and just a lot more fun.
Also, CAN WE PLEASE HAVE MOAR ZIA RODRIGUEZ KTHX. Not only is she a badass paleo-vet who helps save Blue, but she reps everything I ever wanted to be growing up, and that was someone who works with dinosaurs!
The Rodriguez character was supposed to have a queer backstory but the line that would have established it was “cut for time” (are you freaking kidding me?????). Basically, this was supposed to happen:
In the scene, Pineda’s character, Dr. Zia Rodriguez, takes a moment to size up her dino-fighting buddy, Owen Grady (Pratt). After giving him a good once-over, Rodriguez says, “Yeah, square jaw, good bone structure, tall, muscles. I don’t date men, but if I did, it would be you. It would gross me out, but I’d do it.”
Seriously? CUT FOR TIME? We were robbed, friends. Especially since the movie dropped during Pride month. Thanks for wussing out, production companies. I’m looking at you, Amblin, Universal, Perfect World, and Legendary Entertainment.
At any rate, the auction of the dinos at the estate ratchets up the tension because you just know shit is going to go sideways yet again and sure enough, it does, and it’s a rollercoaster of a ride to the film’s end, which demonstrates that uh-oh, it was a Very Bad Idea to bring dinos to the mainland and I’m sure that’s something that will be explored in the next installment. Dino-pocalypse, bitchezzzz.
So basically, I really enjoyed this film because of the dinos and the fast-paced action that involves them. I do also like Chris Pratt’s character, but I’m really stoked about Danielle Pineda’s character — hello! badass lady dino doc! WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE ABOUT THAT — who just might get her queer backstory in the next movie OMG.
And because I’m a fan of this franchise, I tend to forgive the action movie tropes (unless they’re racist/misogynist/anti-LGBT/involve other douche-ness) that move the plot and subplots. I do like that all the films struggle in some way with the consequences of re-creating creatures that may or may not have a place in the modern world. I like those big idea struggles, but face it, I’m also down for a totally awesome romp with a bunch of cool-ass dinos, funny one-liners, and bigger-than-life special effects.
These are movies in the grand tradition of creature features, but they tap into that little kid in some of us who marveled at dinosaurs and longed some day to actually see one.
So for a totally great escape from the bucket of fuck that is our current world, this movie may be just the ticket for you. ROWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRR!
Happy Friday and may the odds be ever in our favor.