Tag Archives: Bryce Dallas Howard

If ‘Fallen Kingdom’ is the Best They Can Do, Maybe it’s Time to Let ‘Jurassic Park’ Go Extinct

To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum from the first “Jurassic Park” film: “the executives at Universal were so preoccupied with whether or not they could make a “Jurassic World” sequel, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is the sequel to the 2015 blockbuster that confirmed Chris Pratt as a leading man and (for a time) owned multiple box office records. This time around, with the island of Isla Nublar set to fall victim to a volcanic eruption, Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) must return to the abandoned theme park to try and rescue the remaining creatures. J. A. Bayona takes over director duties from Colin Trevorrow (who returns to write the screenplay with Derek Connolly) as Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones and Isabella Sermon all join the cast.

I really loved the first “Jurassic World.” It was a fun summer surprise (that I saw three times in theaters) and really thought it captured the fun and thrills that a film of that genre should. Yet despite that, I really wasn’t looking forward to this sequel all too much. The trailers did nothing for me and as we got more and more of them it just seemed like they were struggling to find new places to take the franchise. And after seeing the actual film, it is obvious they are struggling to find new places to take the franchise.

Let’s talk about the good first. There are brief moments throughout the film that play almost like a horror movie and I think that is when director Bayona felt most comfortable, which makes sense since his breakout film was “The Orphanage” in 2007. Dinosaurs are killing machines, there shouldn’t really be a scene in the entire film that doesn’t have a sense of threat surrounding, and Bayona makes good use of shadows and sound to convey that fear.

Chris Pratt is too good for us and he is too good for movies like this, but he tries his best to make the best of a weak script. Occasionally his charm bleeds through and he gets one fight scene to flex his muscles but most of the time you can see the embarrassment in his eyes and the “this is paying for your beach house” in his line delivery. Isabella Sermon, who plays the young granddaughter of James Cromwell (who in-turn is playing an old partner of Jurassic Park founder John Hammond), does alright keeping up with the likes of Pratt and Howard, although her character adds nothing to the story save for one twist that is eye-rollingly dumb. Also Sermon, an English actress, speaks only half of her lines in American so they literally added a scene where her nanny is struggling to teach her how to speak with an English accent to try and cover for it. It’s funny to realize but lazy by the filmmakers.

The first “Jurassic World” had its moments of cringe humor but it also had some comedic moments that worked (“I was with the Navy, not the Navajo!”). Here near everything is a swing and a miss, from the jokes to the over-the-top acting (mainly by a shrieking Justice Smith). There are moments of possible tension that are ruined by “jokes” and while that is a problem that plagues many Marvel movies, those jokes are at least actually funny and they’re characters we’d expect it from (including Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord). The script here just felt like a first draft, with unpolished dialogue and numerous conveniences, and they clearly assumed this thing would crank out a billion dollars no matter the quality.

What truly hinders this film, however, is just that we’ve seen this all done before and it has either been done better or are parts of previous “Jurassic” films that people noted as not liking. Take the dinosaurs off the island? Didn’t work in “The Lost World” but let’s try it again here. Create a super dinosaur with a grab-bag of powers that work for the plot? Really annoyed some people in the last film but that made $1.5 billion so what do people know? And so on.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is a massive letdown and wastes a great director and charismatic star. There are a handful of thrills and exciting moments, as well as those darker bits I mentioned, but they just never mesh and the sense of “been there, done that” is more powerful now more than ever. As Jeff Goldblum is asked during a senate hearing, “should these be left to die?” and if they’re talking about the “Jurassic Park” franchise then to that I say, maybe it is time.

Critic’s Grade: C–


‘Jurassic’ Knocks it Out of the Park

Jurassic_World_posterIt’s a cliché line, but I don’t care: this is why we go to the movies.

“Jurassic World” is the first film of the Jurassic Park franchise since 2001, and it stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Vincent D’Onofrio. 22 years after the events of the first film, the island of Isla Nublar now features a complete dinosaur-driven theme park. In an effort to boost dwindling attendance, a new hybrid dinosaur is created, which then escapes containment and must be stopped before it reaches the park. Colin Trevorrow directs.

There is so much that “Jurassic World” does right, I don’t know quite where to begin. From the score, to the direction, to the visuals, this movie succeeds on most every level, as both the quintessential summer blockbuster, as well as continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise.

The score of the film is done by Michael Giacchino (who won an Original Score Oscar for “Up”), and he does every scene masterfully. He puts his own little spin on the John Williams classic theme, and every time it starts playing you’ll get goosebumps and be filled with nostalgia.

Trevorrow does a great job directing, too, and just like Giacchino he strikes the perfect balance between the classic style of the first film while still giving it his own touch. When Trevorrow was named director of the film a few years back, many scratched their heads. His only directorial experience was the indie film “Safety Not Guaranteed,” which was about magazine writers covering a guy who wants to create time travel; doesn’t exactly scream “give this guy $150 million to create a dinosaur adventure!”.

But Trevorrow masters the intense scenes, and builds up a shroud of mystery surrounding the hybrid dinosaur, by only giving us small glances for the first third of the film. His camera movements are smooth and the climax is as entertaining and satisfying as anything you’ll see at the movies this year.

Chris Pratt continues to impress and show why he’s Hollywood’s next leading man. Gone are the days of him being the funny fat sidekick; Pratt, just like in last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is a rugged, sarcastic cool Joe that all the guys want to be and all the girls wanna be with. I mean, the dude trains raptors. You should be reaching into your pocket to give the film your money based on that sentence alone.

The film’s biggest problems aren’t really problems, just gripes that took me out of the moment for a second. For example, the whole film is based around the idea that attendance to the park is declining because people aren’t interested in seeing dinosaurs anymore. I find that hard to believe, seeing as zoo’s have been around for 150 years and remain huge attractions, and they aren’t filled with creatures that went extinct 65 million years ago. [shrugs] Just saying…

When you get right down to it, though, this is the perfect summer movie. It has a charismatic star, features amazing music and visuals, and is immensely entertaining throughout. “Jurassic World” captured my childhood fantasies and made me feel like a kid again, and I don’t know of too many movies that have been able to do that.

Critics Rating: 9/10