Not long ago, we watched the second of the “Jurassic World” films, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Now, those who have been hanging around here a while may remember that, when we watched the first Jurassic World movie waaaaay back in 2016*, my wife had let’s call them “constructive criticisms” of how Our Hero, played by Chris Pratt, engaged in velociraptor-training behavior. To recap:
Yes, you read that right! It seems that since the park reopened, Chris Pratt has been clicker training the raptors to get them to follow instructions. Or at least, he’s been making lots of clicking noises …
Chris Pratt on TV: “Hey velociraptors!” Click click click click! “Good velociraptors!” Click click click click click!
Wife: “Oh my God. He’s doing that all wrong. He’s using the clicker to get their attention and clicking it like a million times.”
CPoTV: Click click click click click!
Me: “If he wants to get their attention he’d probably have better luck with an air horn.”
Wife: “All that budget money, you’d think they could’ve done a little research.”
My wife doesn’t bother wasting a lot of memory space on what happened in movies she saw back in the day, but she definitely remembered that, if for no other reason than how I introduced Fallen Kingdom to her when the disc arrived:
Me: “Want to see what crimes against animal training they commit this time?”
Wife: “Sure why not.”
Needless to say, the new movie got right back into that well-worn “Jurassic Park” groove, i.e., shady profit-seeking businessmen hooking up with scientists of questionable ethical status roping in People Who Should Know Better to go back to their island to, in this case, rescue the dinosaurs from a volcanic eruption. Because of course we don’t want to lose our valuable investment in merchandise that’s six stories tall and weights forty tons. Presumably they will be doing this on the same type of extremely stable and buoyant and unsinkable ship that they used to transport Kong that time.
So anyway, they have their ship, and they’ve been rounding up their dinosaurs successfully without his help; so why do they need to go get Owen? Well, it’s because they want his pet velociraptor, Blue, and she’s apparently too smart for them to catch her on their own. So what they need is somebody she knows and trusts. You know. A quality trainer.
Owen: “I’m an animal behaviorist.”
Wife (rolls eyes): “Everyone says they’re an animal behaviorist.”
Do they have an ulterior motive for wanting Blue? Oh I don’t know. Do velociraptors have teeth? But anyway, accompanied by a crack team of heavily-armed
thugs military rejects bodyguards, Owen and fellow unkillable main character/former girlfriend Claire do manage to find Blue out in the jungle, where Blue, remembering how fascinated she used to be that Owen clicked stuff at her like 900 times a minute, pauses to give him the time of day. In return, Owen offers her some kind of treat that’s roughly the size of a cocktail weiner:
My wife was not impressed with this level of treat-dispensing.
Wife: “She’s not going to be interested in that! It’s like a Milk Bone! Give her something good!”
Nor was she impressed when he started up with the clicking, yet gave Blue nothing, as if hearing those melodious clicks were its own reward.
Wife: “There’s the click! Where’s the food?”
And then, on top of all that, to no one’s surprise other than Owen and Claire, as soon as Blue starts to sniff Owen’s hand, his “bodyguards” shoot her in the neck with a tranquilizer gun. Because ulterior motives and all.
Wife: “She’s never gonna trust you again!”
You can watch the whole sorry spectacle here, at least until it gets pulled down off of YouTube:
But there was still plenty of movie left! Because they really did want to evacuate dinosaurs off the island, if for no other reason than to … AUCTION THEM OFF TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER.
Yeah I know, it’s shocking. Try to compose yourself so that we can continue. Have you recovered? Maybe go pour yourself a drink.
All right, now that everyone’s heart rate is back to normal after that enormous surprise, let’s move on. Now, at this point there wasn’t much left in the way of Crimes Against Animal Training, but there were still plenty of other felonies going on, such as Crimes Against The Cast, in particular, against Bryce Dallas Howard.
Wife: “The readhead reminds me of Keanu Reeves. They’re only letting her have one expression, and it’s a Charlee face.”
What’s a Charlee face, you ask? Well, this is a Charlee face:
One could describe this face as, depending on the situation, “pop-eyed wonder”, “shocked consternation”, “extreme concentration”, “is that a moth?” … well I mean basically Charlee’s face always looks like this, except when she’s sleeping. So if you imagine Claire looking at everything in the movie this way, you’ve pretty much nailed it.
Me: “Okay, so you’re not a fan of Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance. What about Chris Pratt?”
Wife: “This isn’t a movie designed to show off anyone’s acting skills.”
Fair enough. And this is because, in addition to Crimes Against The Cast, we also have Crimes Against Storytelling In General:
Wife: “This whole movie is just an excuse to have lots of dinosaurs and volcanoes. No plot.”
Me: “It has a plot, it’s just a little … threadbare.”
Wife: “Threadbare? It’s just enough to get them to the island, then it’s, Ooh, we have to run away from dinosaurs and Ahhh, lava! Ah! Ah! Ahhhh!“
Me (beat): “I can’t say that’s inaccurate.”
Now, towards the end, we end up with … Oh hang on, River Song wants to say something.
Anyway, towards the end, we end up with dinosaur mayhem on the mainland, with the prehistoric creatures rampaging around the grounds of the mansion and elsewhere. At this point it reminded my wife of another film we saw some time ago:
Wife: “So now it’s just like Godzilla.”**
Me: “How so?”
Wife: “Isn’t Godzilla a lizard-thing that attacks cities?”
Me: “Well, yes, but Godzilla is much, much bigger.”
Wife: “Okay, so there’s a size difference.”
Me: “And Godzilla breathes atomic fire.”
Wife: “That’s minor.”
Me: “What?! It’s ATOMIC FIRE.” (scoffs) “Minor.”
We ended up watching Fallen Kingdom in several sittings. The first, and longest, kept my wife awake for 49 minutes, mainly because of her outrage with the Crimes Against Animal Training stuff. After that we were lucky to get through 20 minutes before she fell asleep, and in fact, I am pretty sure I ended up finishing it while she took a well-deserved nap, although I think I woke her up for the high comedy of a helmet-headed dinosaur (pachycephalosaurus, in case you were wondering) knocking people around like bowling pins during the dinosaur auction. This all happened in the background of some other general chaos, with the little dinosaur roaring and people flying through the air like ragdolls as it head-butts them off screen:
Me: “That dinosaur is my new favorite character in any of these movies.”
So that was Fallen Kingdom ― yet another travesty of animal training, as expected. Will this trainwreck stop me from watching the next one in the series, Jurassic World: Dominion? Well, uh, what do you think?
* AKA “The Before Times”
** My wife is referring here to the rather dreadful 1998 version of Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick, in which the scenario is transferred from Tokyo to New York City, and Godzilla is, indeed, basically just a big iguana trying to get by in the world. We both felt so sorry for her that by the end we were rooting for her to escape and go back to wherever her natural habitat was. Seriously, the only two good things to come out of the 1998 Godzilla movie were:
• This cover of “Heroes” by the Wallflowers:
• And this Taco Bell commercial: