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The ‘Jurassic World’ Franchise Needs Better Bad Guys in a Big Way


Chris Pratt taking a selfie next to the Indoraptor featured in Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom for Entertainment Weekly

Chris Pratt taking a selfie next to the Indoraptor featured in Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom for Entertainment Weekly

Me and the Mrs. went to see Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom on Friday night and now I have opinions.

Heading into it, we already knew the reviews weren’t great (it’s currently battling 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park for third best out of five) so we knew what we were getting into but Daddy needed his Pratt fix. With lowered expectations, we took our seats, Hoovered popcorn (large tub demolished in THIRTY MINUTES of trailers nbd) and braced for impact.

I’ll say this, your eyes will get a HIIT workout from all the rolling upwards and absorbing the panic-attack-inducing action. Granted, the panic attack was probably from exceeding my daily recommended intake of sodium by about 5,000% but the dilated pupes were pure. My ‘balls are yoked from the reps. They went to failure fore shore. I could sit here and rattle off the many absurdities and happy coincidences the film doled out but I don’t want to break your neck. Like Wu-Tang, I advise everyone to protect ya neck.

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One thing I can safely say is we hoomans are quick to forgive a movie’s many implausible, over-the-top, dumb or just plain cheesy transgressions if there are some immensely satisfying payoffs and/or twists that are more hit than miss. I’ll quickly touch on how JWFK whiffed on those but then I’mma mainly focus on the main antagonists – two human, one man-made.

WARNING: SPOILERS

THE TWIST

Benjamin Lockwood (played as well as one can portray him by James Cromwell) was original Jurassic Park founder John Hammond’s partner. Yet I believe this is the first we’re hearing of him.

Lockwood’s granddaughter, Maisie, is the clone of Lockwood’s daughter who died in a car crash. Did your shoulders shrug? Legit response. It’s not that far of a stretch that a guy who condoned cloning dinos would give the green light to cloning a lost one. It didn’t get a single gasp from the crowd in our theater. No murmurs. No hushed whispers. Just indifference and ‘it is what it is’ acceptance.

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Why? I dunno. Maybe because cloning’s nothing new or special. Had this come out in ’93, the revelation might’ve carried more weight. Like when Ellen came out as gay on her sitcom. It was groundbreaking. Now we have people coming out on every show and movie in existence.

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Or it could be that we’re thrown these very new characters previously unheard of in the franchise / universe, weren’t given enough of an emotional connection or were hurried into one, then expected to react emotionally when their lives are turned upside down. It’s the equivalent of a drive-thru wedding with someone you stood behind at the ATM.

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Why the focus shifted away from Pratt’s Owen and Bryce’s Claire is also interesting. It’s either a major oversight or a condemnation of their relationship and/or their abilities. It’s like the writers and producers didn’t feel confident enough in them being able to carry the film by themselves.

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Side Note: Tuned into the original Jurassic Park on Showtime at the scene in which Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant is talking with the kids. Boy makes jokes about dino names. Girl gets sneezed on by a brachiosaurus. Grant wasn’t fond of kids before this adventure started, now he’s warming up to them. It’s called a character arc.

Can we say the same for either Pratt’s Owen or BDH’s Claire? For Claire, there was a shift in character from JW to JWFK that was unseen by the audience. Owen’s still really the same guy. What’s his flaw? His wound? What is he masking? Is there any growth?

Anyway, back to the twist, which was delivered by Lockwood’s right hand man, Eli Mills. He was all like “SHE’S A CLONE!” and Pratt and BDH were all like “Cool.” I wasn’t sure how that was supposed to alter anything. Like the girl wouldn’t be able to handle it and off herself? Pratt and BDH would be like ‘Ew!’ and off her? It was supposed to be a boom and it was a bust. And ultimately her being a clone was just a plot device to save the dinos when the others were willing to let them die in the basement.

Alls I know is “Dinos in a Mansion” was the wrong move. Saving them from the island? I get it. Putting them in a confined space? The complete opposite of what people want to see. We want to see these behemoths run wild.

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It looks like we’ll get to see that in the third one, which makes me wonder why we needed everything after the island escape in this one? It’s like the producers were worried Fallen Kingdom would be too much like The Lost World. If the ending / post-credits scenes are any indication, Jurassic World 3 will have the dinos comin’ to a ‘hood near you like they did in Lost World only on a much larger scale. At this point, Fallen Kingdom felt like filler but it’s possible the setups lay the foundation for even bigger and better payoffs in JW3.

THE HUMAN ANTAGONISTS

Ted Levine played Ken Wheatley – the big wild game hunter who loves teeth and tusks and collectibles. You may better remember Ted as Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs.

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This movie could’ve been an all-timer had they taken the restraints off Ted. Instead, they had him disappear for way too long. Let the man Buffalo Bill all over the place like a real live Looney Tune. Right from the jump. Don’t ease into him being a bad dude. Come out guns blazing. Have him oozing testosterone on PEDs.

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Look, I appreciated the “nasty woman” comment about Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda — her and Justice Smith’s Franklin were decent). It fit with Wheatley’s persona but man, you gotta crank that soldier boy all the way up to 11. Have him go on lil’ crazy asides and soliloquies, boasting about all the insane shit he’s done and the highly illegal poaching he’s pulled off. Make the alpha males in the audience feel a tingle in their Lt. Dangle.

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Don’t get me wrong, Wheatley’s death was befitting but I would’ve loved to see him try to out-beast the Indoraptor instead of screaming like me during a night terror.

Rafe Spall played Eli Mills, the head of Lockwood’s trust / estate. I haven’t seen much of Spall and I don’t remember his parts in Hot Fuzz or Black Mirror so I can’t speak to whether or not he was the right choice here.

I will say the character Spall played was the most vanilla of vanilla villains. The moment he got done saying, he ‘used to be young and idealistic’ to Bryce Dallas Howard, I was like yup, there’s the bad guy. There wasn’t much hope for a dynamic dude after that line. From there on out, his path was as predictable as LeBron leaving Cleveland.

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Hey man, I get it. The movie’s PG-13. There were a ton of kids in the theater. You don’t want to go too hard with your villains. But to say Eli Mills is cliche would be an insult to cliches. The shot of Eli’s eyes widening at the sight of his ever-increasing sales at the auction was a real eye-opener. How did that end up in the movie? It belongs on the gag reel.

For me, it’s simple. You want us to actually be surprised when Mills turns on Lockwood? Or you’d like the audience to sympathize with or empathize for Mills, you’ve got to flesh his ass out. No, giving his character a Twitter account isn’t the answer.

Maybe Lockwood’s been a dick to Eli because he blames Mills for his daughter’s death? Maybe Lockwood’s making promises he never keeps and all of Eli’s numerous sacrifices (love life, personal life, etc) have gone for naught? I dunno maybe they went over all of Eli’s motives and backstory with that rapid-fire exposition scene near the beginning but I must’ve missed it.

Mills has been watching over Lockwood for how long and in a heartbeat he’s like okay I have the capacity to kill an old, defenseless man whom I’ve been caring for the past decade no questions asked? Greed is a helluva drug but turning a grown man into a first-time cold-blooded killer without hesitation? That’s ‘nanners, man.

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THE DINO-ANTAGONIST

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom could’ve gotten away with essentially phoning in those two buffoons (Wheatley, Mills) if they just came correct with the dino villain.

Jurassic World had Indominus Rex, which turned out to be like a smorgasbord-meets-melting pot of predators, most notably the T-Rex and raptor. At first, I was like nah, son, nothing can steal my feels for the T-Rex but then… Indominus Rex ate its sibling, faked out a group of humans into thinking it escaped when it hadn’t, used camouflage to kill trained mercs, hunted big game for pleasure, generally ran amok like a Coked out kid in a candy store and ripped out its own goddam tracker. In short, I-Rex got my I-respect.

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Fallen Kingdom spent a significant amount of time trying to save the I-Rex only to have its fossil crushed by the T-Rex at the end. That would lead one to believe the I-Rex is done-da-da but that can’t be the case. You can’t expect us to invest 2 hours of our lives into caring about the fate of a bone for it to get curb-stomped. Then again, it was a sweet reminder that the OG T-Rex is still boss.

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I’m sure the kids crapped their pants over the Indoraptor but I was like oh… okay… a bigger… blacker… raptor? With a racing stripe? Kewl.

Neal, Mills and Wu and Toby(?) clearly stated the indo-raptor was “in beta” and not ready yet. That sounds like the writers’ excuse for when the script’s due and they still don’t know who the new dino should be. Uh, well, it’s like a bigger raptor and it’s black and it’s got a racing stripe… IT’S IN BETA!

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What the John Kruk did Indo-raptor do to earn his racing stripe? It gets excited when someone points a laser and blows a whistle? Wow. So it’s like a cat mated with a dog? It’s cat-dog.

True, Indo-raptor’s claws are cool. They have a very Nosferatu vibe. I still dig that it tapped its claw on the ground as — what I assume is — a tracking tactic similar to sonar but also as a sign of impatience. Long story short, the Indo-raptor felt like a step down from the I-Rex.

The entire movie I just thought where’s the T-Rex ? Ya know, king of the dinosaurs? Ever heard?

The T-Rex is quietly becoming the Stan Lee of the Jurassic Park franchise. Producers are like what? Huh? The T-Rex? Oh yeah. Shit. Uh, give him a cameo and call it a day. Such disrespect. Sure, they opened JWFK with T-Rex. Why? Because that’s a strong opener. That’ll kick the tires and light the fires. When Jurassic World needed to pull out the ace in the hole, who’d they call on? T-Rex in Bay 9. So, what’s the deal? Is it the kids? Are the kids really bored of a goddamn sexual Tyrannosaurus?

The Mosasaurus came through again, stealing another couple scenes.

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We got an overdose of that battering ram dino.

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Blue is emotionally complex. The auction showcased some contenders. But riddle me this, why haven’t the geniuses at InGen experimented WAY more? Let’s blend a T-Rex with a Moz. Or a Pterodactyl? Or all three?

Imagine a T-Rex with Triceratops horns, Stegosaurus spikes along the back, Pterodactyl wings and the venomous spit of the Dilophosaurus. Get all Island of Dr. Moreau on everybody’s ass.

The fate of the (Jurassic) world depends on it. For the children.

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