Scene from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Scene from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

While Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom has earned an insane amount of money in a very short time, it has only received about a 50 percent rating on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate website. It appears to be one of those critic-proof films like Suicide Squad or anything with Princess in the title. Ultimately, fans don’t care about the negative reviews, which I have explained by stating how much money J5 has already made.

I saw the movie on its opening weekend and my initial impression was that the first 15 minutes or so is as exciting as an Amish porn film. You’d think that things would pick up with the appearance of the hero, Chris Pratt, and the heroine, Bryce Dallas Howard, but you’d be mistaken.

While it was established in the first Jurassic World film that the characters had previously shared at least one intimate liaison the squabbling couple still behave like two kids freshly returned from rumspringa. (I'm not sure why I’m picking on the Amish today.) Pratt and Howard have no sexual chemistry. They seem to be a couple only because there’s no one else on the island as pretty as they are and their behavior is almost as annoying as the monotony at the beginning of the movie.

Here’s the thing: I’m crazy about these actors, but the writers seem to mistake their costumes for their characters. Howard is used predominantly as a clothes horse whose sole trait is to go into a dither in almost every precarious situation. At least she’s abandoned the stilettos, and she even shows a little moxie late in the film. But this strong, modern, powerful woman spends the vast majority of the movie wailing like an old-fashioned damsel in distress.

Meanwhile, Pratt, dressed to the nines like any second banana in a Johnny Quest episode, has all the spark of those wooden cartoon characters. I’ve loved the complex and conflicted characters Pratt has created from his glory days on Parks and Rec through his swashbuckling in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Unfortunately, the guy in this flick only seems to care about fighting the villain of the moment, serving as the raptor-whisperer and warning stunningly stupid people to stay away from the big scary animals who immediately proceed to eat them nonetheless. Pratt deserves better than this paint-by-numbers silliness.

And then the volcanoes start erupting? Yes, the writers in their infinite wisdom decided that what this movie really needs is VOLCANOES, because tyrannosaurs and velociraptors running amuck just aren’t thrilling enough.

When my siblings and I saw the original Jurassic Park back in ‘93, the movie made us giddy and we repeatedly hounded my parents to go see it as well. On the Thanksgiving after the movie came out we kids were slumped on the couch in a tryptophan coma when our folks came into the room in winter coats. My father said it would be a good day to see the movie if for no other reason than to get us off their backs. We were stunned when they returned a short time later, much too soon to have seen the entire film.

Seeing our incredulous looks, Dad said “Your mother and I enjoyed the first part of the film. The dinosaurs looked very real and were a lot of fun. The trouble started when the little boy climbed to the top of an electric fence, got hit with a jolt strong enough to stop a T-Rex, fell 20 feet to the ground and in the next scene was blissfully enjoying a bowl of ice cream in the commissary, no worse for the wear. At that point I said, ‘Time to go mother.’”

That anecdote comes to mind for two reasons. The first is that there was one-too-many electrocuted-boy-goes on-to-eat-ice-cream-moments in Fallen Kingdom. The second is that oft times so many people are so determined to love a movie before they’ve seen it that it doesn’t have to be great to be hugely successful. You simply have to love it, so check it off your box.

Pop wasn’t one to fall for that gimmick.

Incidentally, my rankings for the Jurassic franchise are as follows:

1 //  Jurassic World – The only Jurassic movie that actually had a functioning “Park” in it. Also, I could watch Chris Pratt do almost anything at least once.

2 // Jurassic Park – Besides the awe factor the first in any classic franchise has (see “Star Wars”), the original has by far the best overall cast.

3 // Lost World – The T-Rex is a spectacular 10 minutes of movie-making – the other 120 not quite so much. 

4 // Jurassic III – An endless marriage counseling session masquerading as a classic sci-fi sequel.

5 //  Fallen Kingdom – The first in the franchise that feels like an exercise in making money.

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Ed Johnson-Ott has been NUVO's lead film critic for more than 20 years.