Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park is one of the finest works of literature of the last 100 years. Alongside novels like 1984, Brave New World, Lord of The Flies and The Handmaid’s Tale, Jurassic Park ushered in an era of novels that addressed the nature of politics and the human condition. Though it used the information and technologies of its time, Jurassic Park is just as relevant today as it was when it was released 28 years ago. Addressed in Crichton’s novel was Chaos Theory, which helped shape the violent undertone he created in this new world. Adding chaos to DNA cloning and research, and the perils of playing God, the novel was ripe for a man as genius as Steven Spielberg to bring to the silver screen.
Joined by veteran composer John Williams and written for the screen by the joint efforts of David Koepp and Crichton himself, Jurassic Park opened to a wide audience on June 11, 1993, and like every other time Spielberg released a film, it completely changed the game. Keeping with the elements that made the novel great, Spielberg crafted a mass-appeal film: the blockbuster of all blockbusters. It’s a formula he created two decades earlier with the release of Jaws, and it helped mold a formula still being used in cinema today. Jaw-dropping special effects littered with political and scientific subtext, Jurassic Park made the blockbuster film smart again.
Four sequels later we find ourselves in 2018, and the fifth installment of the franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, has just hit theatres. Fallen Kingdom seems to lose everything that made the novel and subsequent film great, and in a year of divisive franchise sequels – Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi divided audiences more than any other film of recent times, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, though a great film, performed so poorly at the box office that Disney has put the future of Star Wars on hold – another lackluster franchise installment is not what we need. Yet, Fallen Kingdom has fallen prey to the same curse.
Rian Johnson may have butchered an entire franchise with The Last Jedi, but J.A. Bayona is giving him a run for his money. Fallen Kingdom focuses solely on making memorable scenes instead of making a film; it loses all literary value and in the end, we are left with only two shots that stand out in my mind: an Apocalypse Now homage and a smoke-infested longshot of the island, which, if you are not sympathetic to the plight of the dinosaurs, will do nothing for you. It is oversaturated in look and in tone, and this Disney-style approach to rebooting franchises does nothing for this film. Today, the blockbuster film is more invested in capturing younger audiences by selling toys and merchandise than providing audiences with quality entertainment; but, with toy stores going out of business worldwide, I’m left to wonder why this is where their efforts lie. Either way, a plastic IndoRaptor will be on every child’s wish list this Christmas, and it seems that’s all these modern blockbusters care to achieve.
The acting and writing were something from a 1998 straight-to-video Blockbuster Select. The film was absent of all soul and essence and lost all entertainment value its predecessor Jurassic World had. It’s a shame the use of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcom, a franchise favorite, was saved for this film and not Jurassic World; he is just too good for this film. The only solution to saving this franchise is to bring Spielberg back to the director’s chair, because in this current, watered-down, Land Before Time installment of this franchise, I don’t see the Jurassic Park universe lasting too much longer.