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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Review

fallen-kingdom-poster-t-rexThree years ago the Jurassic Park franchise made it’s mark on the box office once again as it surprised everyone by becoming one of the top grossing films of all time. The series is back, under the direction of J. A. Bayona and looks to pick up where the last one left off, collecting a massive sum of over $450 million worldwide, even before opening in the USA. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are back, reprising their roles of Owen and Claire as they try to keep the rest of the world safe from threat of weaponized dinosaurs.

Responsibility 

In many ways, all of the Jurassic films have been about responsibility, but the theme is particularly strong in Fallen Kingdom. It’s three years since the events of Jurassic World and the park has since been abandoned. Isla Nublar’s once dormant volcano is now active, threatening the dinosaurs with another extinction level event. The world must decide what responsibility it has towards these creatures it’s created. Do previously extinct animals, brought back through science have the same rights as other species? Is this volcano an act of God, meant to correct our mistake in bringing them back? As the world wrestles with these question, time is running out for the dinosaurs.

The film brings the question of responsibility a little closer to home through the characters of Claire and Owen. As the plan to weaponize these animals is unfurled, Claire is reminded that she also once exploited these animals for profit. She was instrumental in creating the Indominous Rex, keeping it in a cage, keeping all of the animals in cages for the benefit of the bottom line.

Owen is reminded that it was he who helped prove that a creature like a raptor could be trained, yet had failed to see the applications his research could be used for. What’s fascinating is that Owen, as he’s training these raptors, especially Blue, there’s almost a Garden of Eden feel to it. He’s connecting with one of the most dangerous predators to have ever roamed the earth and him doing so is innocent. In fact, he’s really living out the first great commission from Scripture, to have dominion over all the animals. Owen’s dominion here is the relationship God had in mind pre fall, a care and stewardship of these creatures for mutual benefit. Owen is the antithesis to who Claire use to be and the villain of this movie, Eli Mills.

jw4Accountability key here. What is our responsibility with the things we create as humans? How should we use the technology we create? What about the cities, political structures or even our own children? The movie shows two ways of doing things. We can treat everything as if we’re nothing but consumers, seeing everything through the lens of what we can get out of something monetarily or how it can benefit us. Or, we can be stewards, people that think through the implications of our actions of creation and how we accountable for those creations. Isn’t that what Malcolm was trying to get at in Jurassic Park?

Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun…

If I may… Um, I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it…

Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.

And Malcolm is right. Too many times our responsibility in creation is neglected because the creation of something is driven by something much more temporal and mundane, money, and the carnage in it’s wake is what happens while we’re busy scheming for something more. Honestly, the message that resonates through each Jurassic movie the most is, humans make crummy gods.

The Movie

In some ways this movie is a spiritual successor to The Lost World, yet it works better. The reason for taking the dinosaurs off the island makes a lot more sense, especially in light of Jurassic World. They’re not being saved, they’re being exploited, once again. Sadly this time, the entire world is being put at risk just to line the pockets of a few.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard have real star power. Rafe Spall as Eli Mills is sufficiently skeevy as the villain. James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood adds a whole new wrinkle into the story and to what is possible with genetic power and his granddaughter played by Isabella Sermon is a wonderful addition to the cast.

The effects are fantastic, even better than Jurassic World. The times when someone touches one of the dinosaurs, it looks so real. Giacchino’s music is on cue, using themes from the Williams’ scores and his work on Jurassic World perfectly. The movie does have it’s flaws, it’s a little too derivative, but honestly, it’s better that Jurassic Park III and The Lost World (all this particular reviewer needed it to be), a worthy addition to the series. It’s rated 3.75 out of 5 stars.

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Jurassic World – Review

Jurassic-World-Poster-Official

Jurassic Park was the highest grossing movie of 1993 meaning it was inevitable that the film would spawn sequels. The Lost World bought Spielberg and Crichton back together to create not just a movie but also a follow-up to the book and four years later Joe Johnston would finally get his wish by directing Jurassic Park III. It has been 14 years since dinosaurs roamed cinema screens and now the park is open once again with Jurassic World.

“No one’s impressed by dinosaurs anymore.”

From the very beginning of the movie Jurassic World reminds you that it has been over 20 years since the last good Jurassic Park movie. In that time audiences have been inundated by CGI monsters, planets, aliens and anything else that a filmmaker can conceive. One of the main characters is shown playing with his cell phone while an incredible demonstration of a mosasaur eating a shark off a line, further accentuating the fact that dinosaurs are a dime a dozen now.

jurassic-world-super-bowl-trailer-1The movie does the best thing that it can for the series and reminds us that these animals are scary and wild. Even though they have been engineered, they still have instincts to kill and kill they do. Jurassic Wold has the highest body count of any of the films to date. Like the first movie, the dinosaurs are used to great effect. We don’t have many shots where we just spend a lot of time on the creatures. There are many more flashes of quick action which ratchets up the tension and when we so see them in full view, the CGI here is good. For the first time since the original, these animals feel more real and definitely more scary.

Bigger More Teeth

Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire runs Jurassic World. At the beginning of the movie she is taking a group of investors from Verizon around the park trying to reel in their support. She promises them that the new Indominus Rex will be bigger, have more teeth and scare kids and parents alike. Every few years, like all theme parks, Jurassic World must get the world’s attention again, yet instead of a new ride, it needs a new dinosaur. Since no one is impressed with them anymore the park’s genetics team, run by familiar scientist BD Wong has gene spliced up a new attraction. In the name of profit, Frankenstein has created a monster.

Jurassic World perfectly picks up on the themes of Jurassic Park and contemporizes them. This is science and human kind at their most dangerous, driven by greed. There is no more awe and wonder for Claire, there is only the bottom line. This leaves the scientists unchecked to create in their lab something that should never have existed. They are playing God and no one cares, at least until people die and even then their only worry is saving their research and embryos.

-1_8And if that was not bad enough, the Ingen security devision wants to take the raptors that Chris Pratt’s Owen has formed a bond with since hatching and turn them into living weapons. It is human hubris at it’s peak. Jurassic World vividly reminds us that human kind is it’s own worst enemy. Without respect for what we create or what we steward, everything is just a commodity in attempt to satiate our greed. As humans we are suppose to be civilized and evolved, yet the instincts on display in remind us of just how far we have to go. Apparently we are still not above creating the next frankenstein.

The park owner has a wonderful reminder for Claire during a helicopter ride around the park. He says that he finds that life is best when he remembers that he’s never truly in control. It’s one of the consistent messages in the Jurassic films that humanity has a place in this world yet we don’t control it and never truly can. It is when we forget this that we forget our place and make ourselves our own gods and by playing God, wreck havoc over the earth.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalms 115:3

Conclusion

Jurassic World is fun. I’ve been a dinosaur fan since I was young and I love having them back in a movie that is good. There are moments that the movie does make you feel awe again, just as the original did. While at the same time reminding you just how scary these animals would be. I liked Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt. A lot has been made of whether or not Claire is feminist enough and I think if her character had been a guy, no one would complain about the characterization, so I have no issues with her. Jurassic World is a great popcorn movie with timely reminders of the dangers that not dinosaurs, but humanity are to ourselves and to the world when we forget our place.