This is the type of sequelized franchise-clone film that makes you feel like you’re waiting in line with Nurse Ratched’s patients at the movie theatre, while a dead-eyed attendant pops IP-content capsules out of a large blister pack.
Genre and formula films can be amazing, but this drab bit of digital entertainment – the third in the Jurassic World series and the sixth overall in the Jurassic franchise – is mostly awful and pointless, produced and lifeless sophisticated to the point of gibberish.
The first game of the World Series, in 2015, sparked some interest, but this exercise in dead-dino flogging has only gotten worse. Chris Pratt’s performance is the worst of all. It’s dreadful to think about how much fun he was on TV in Parks and Recreation and Guardians of the Galaxy.
He’s now the drab action hero, always staring at the camera with smolderingly heated eyes. You’ve probably heard of the band Blue Steel. Brown Steel is the company’s name. Another option is Beige Steel.
Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom left us with the sense that, like bears or spiders, humanity will simply have to coexist with terrifying but controllable dinosaurs out in the wild. This new film picks up a few years after the destruction of the “Isla Nublar” dinosaur facility.
Burly velociraptor handler Owen (Pratt) lives a distant, almost hermit existence as a kind of dino-cowboy with his wife Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and their adopted daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon), the cloned progeny of Sir Benjamin Lockwood’s daughter.
Sir Benjamin (James Cromwell) is rumoured to be the former business partner of Jurassic Park creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) in the original film. Maisie retains her aristocratic English accent.
The Jurassic World ensemble is now complete. In the meantime, “legacy characters” from the Park series (1993-2001) must be added to the mix. Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) will cross paths again.
All of these characters will be drawn into the orbit of BioSyn, a newly formed corporate baddie that is developing dino-clone technology to manufacture dinosaurs as weapons and a new super-locust to destroy crops grown by independent farmers who refuse to buy BioSyn seed.
In a gigantic Bond-villain city-state retreat in the Italian Dolomites, it is ruled by scary plutocrat Lewis Dodgson, played by Campbell Scott. Dr. Henry Wu, the clone genius, and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) serve as a sort of contrarian in-house lecturer/motivator for his staff (BD Wong). Malcolm and Wu, on the other hand, aren’t sellouts and will eventually join the true opposition.
There are a few humorous moments, largely from the older generation: Dern and Neill have a great chemistry, and Goldblum is always witty. Pratt and Howard, on the other hand, appear to have only met at a party in Los Angeles and share nothing in common.
As they execute their poor acting expressions at each other, their closeups seem to build a green-screen atmosphere of phoniness all around their heads.
One of the action set-pieces generated for its own purpose and with no convincing tie to the declared non-plot is a vehicle chase with a dinosaur, which reminded me of Charlie Kaufman’s car-versus-horse concept from Adaptation.
The film mashes together bits of Alien, The Swarm, Bourne, and 007 with abandon, and it’s chaotic, CGI-bound, and risk-free. And the major thrill of the first Jurassic Park picture, based on Michael Crichton’s novel, is gone: that vital sense of something hubristic, transgressive, and wrong about bringing dinosaurs back to life in the first place. It’s far past time for all parties involved to think beyond the box.