♫Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur!♫
Introduction – Nataceous Era
Welp, I never thought I’d be talking about mainstream Hollywood movies on this site, but Cassie suggested that we sit down and watch the entire Jurassic Park hexalogy. Why? Because that girl loves herself some dinosaurs, and watching movies with Cassie is a lotta fun!
Considering I was a pretty frequent movie watcher as a kid, there’s reason to assume that I’m familiar with the series. That I grabbed it from the local library or caught it on TV. After all, the series has a lot of cultural panache, and was actively being supported when I was in my dinosaur phase as a little kid (I was born in 1994). But… nope! I am going into this with no real knowledge or awareness of this series, beyond things I picked up through cultural osmosis, clips, or ‘nostalgic reviews’ I watched a decade ago.
So without further establishing, let’s hand it over to Cassie and get this bad girl started!
Introduction – Cassandrassic Era
I adore Jurassic Park and its two trilogies of films, so I was super excited to share these movies with Natalie after the idea was brought up as a potential continuation to the Pokémon movie rambles.
I’ve been a huge fan of the prehistoric pretties for the longest time, probably since my mother is similar and I got it from her. Walking with Dinosaurs, Prehistoric Park and Jurassic Park were all strong parts of my childhood. I have over 3,600 hours in the sadly going extinct Ark:Survival Evolved, the dinosaur survival game, I have been numerous times to the British Natural History Museum home of the infamous Dippy the Diplodocus skeleton, and I have distinct memories of stealing my mother’s boxed up archaeologist Barbie doll set to play as a very young egg that I was!
In short, I like prehistoric animals. My favorite dinosaur is Spinosaurus!
This isn’t exactly very Ojou-sama like? Well I also like ships, planes and other sorts so I’m weirdly versed in subjects despite my secluded princess, airheaded persona.
I remember some of these movies being pretty good. I just hope the 2nd/3rd don’t put Natnat off the idea as I know that for some, those ones are terrible movies through and through. You’ve had literal decades to watch these, no complaints about spoilers!
Movie 01 – Jurassic Park (1993)
In Steven Spielberg’s massive blockbuster, paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are among a select group chosen to tour an island theme park populated by dinosaurs created from prehistoric DNA. While the park’s mastermind, billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), assures everyone that the facility is safe, they find out otherwise when various ferocious predators break free and go on the hunt.
So, 1993’s Jurassic Park is one of the most iconic and well-known movies of its era. It broke all sorts of records when it released, spurred a merchandising empire across everything you could plaster a logo onto, and is one of the most widely referenced films in general. Pretty much every five minutes, there is a widely quoted line and a wonderful shot, and it is without question a film with more than a few brilliant moments.
As such, I feel kind of out of my element trying to say something about it, so let’s start with a summary. For roughly the first half of the film, Jurassic Park focuses on introducing its world. Starting with the central protagonists, a paleontologist power couple, being interrupted for a dinosaur dig by an eccentric old man to see the ‘real deal.’ Establishing the setting of Isla Nublar as a vast untouched island that almost appears to be of another era in Earth’s history. Showing off the best dinosaurs that could be made with puppetting and CG circa 1993, and they still look pretty dope to this day (largely due to the excellent animation). Offering a Disney park like introduction to the science behind this miracle. Addressing some of the ethical/scientific ramifications. And then finally beginning the tour that this entire park is built around.
However, as is always the case, things go awry, characters are left stranded in dino territory, and dinosaurs start invading human territory. This is where the movie really gets started, and while it is wisely not non-stop action, and offers many humanizing moments… most of the appeal is just watching dinosaurs do cool stuff. Eat people, break stuff, roam free in the wild, interact in a modern environment like a kitchen or visitors hall, pretend to be a Xenomorph, the works.
Thinking it through, I do find the introduction to be a bit long for a blockbuster like this, but I also see why the film is constructed like this. It wants to get everybody on board with the absurd idea it is proposing, make it digestible— make it seem logical and realistic— while grounding things around a cast of characters. Characters who… aren’t deep or all that special, but have just enough personality for an audience to grasp onto them, figure out what their deal is, and find them likable. They feel like regular-ass people, and regular people aren’t special by definition.
The intro makes sense, is peppered with enough engaging and novel elements to keep the audience engaged, and once things hit this latter half… It’s pretty much all great stuff. You have a dope pair of dinosaur encounters that cap off the night. A more tranquil midnight encounter that focuses and reinforces the more human element of this story. And once the new day emerges, you get a 20 minute long compilation of high intensity action sequences as the characters try to fix this mess.
It’s well-structured, has enough character to keep people engaged, and is littered with excellent moments and quotable lines. It is, quite simply, a good film. …But at the same time, there were plenty of little things that set me off.
The film is clearly about two minds about technology. It believes it is something incredible and to be celebrated, able to automate laborious work and achieve miracles beyond what was thought possible. However, the conflict of the film is also caused by an over-reliance on technology. The systems implemented throughout the park go down, dinosaurs escape, and people start dying.
Now, the text of the film makes it clear that the reason for these failings are due to logistical failings, sabotage, an over-reliance on automation, and a lack of due process or testing. However, the visual language is that technology has gone too far, and it is easy to extrapolate one character’s spiel about how humanity has gone ‘too far’ by bringing back the dinosaurs as ‘technology must be contained.’ Now, I don’t necessarily think that was intentional by the filmmakers, as that sentiment can be found throughout a lot of sci-fi stories, and an often deserved one.
You have a corporate espionage subplot where super hacker Nedry is bribed to steal dinosaur embryos, because he is not being paid enough for his IT work. Makes sense. However, the scene of bribery is both the audience’s introduction to Nedry, happens before any character sets foot on the island… and Nedry ultimately fails to secure the sample anyway. I get why it’s here, but it feels like this subplot had to be shuffled around to fit where it does.
You also have a… plot detail about how all the dinosaurs on the island are female, in order to prevent uncontrolled breeding. And a related detail that all dinosaur DNA was reconstructed using frog DNA to fill in the gaps. These seem like flavor text initially, but it is later revealed that the frog DNA used gave the dinosaurs… ‘sequential hermaphroditism.’ Which characters figure out when they find dinosaur eggshells in the wild.
This plotpoint works, if you ignore the fact that anybody who read enough Zoo Books could probably spot why you shouldn’t have used DNA from that specific frog. But after introducing this revelation, the film does… actually nothing with it. Is this a sequel tease? Maybe? But it is so overt that it’s distracting. It tells the audience to expect something, and just never delivers it.
I could go on and on, ranging from how unrealistic the security and IT team is to how Jurassic Park seems like a pretty crappy zoo based on the brief snippet that’s shown. Or how the movie just kind of … stops in the end, without any final word or solving the fact that dinosaurs are running amok on the island.
Jurassic Park definitely has problems and shortcomings… but I also completely and utterly understand why people were so enraptured by it back in 1993, and why it blossomed into such a huge movie series. It’s a rock solid 8/10 movie with lots of spectacle and a concept with near universal appeal. …Everybody does like dinosaurs to some degree, right?
Now, is the rest of that series good? From what I have heard, no. But Cassie seems to think otherwise, so let’s find out!
This movie kickstarted everything and no doubt settles a particular spot in most people’s hearts. It’s an almost timeless classic with visuals that I would expect even modern children to enjoy and appreciate, something that Walking with Dinosaurs made 6 years later may struggle with due to its very dated feeling puppetry. Not to mention this movie has reams of quotable lines throughout it.
The dinosaurs in this movie simply hold up to time quite well, likely due to good use of CGI. I have absolutely no understanding of this to even properly review it, but they mesh well with the scenes and never look out of place so much as a Dinosaur should draw attention as the movie wants it to.
The plot of this suspense thriller movie starts off slow, giving us more than sufficient time to learn stakes, background info and build interest in characters. Such as Hammond’s dream to create the titular Jurassic Park or Alan Grant’s dislike of children and provides their realized character arcs in this movie. The final scene being Hammond overlooking the failure, the end, of his dream. This all results in the watcher being much more invested in later scenes when the risk is much higher.
In terms of flaws, the entire Dennis Nedry plotline comes to mind. It is typical industrial espionage performed by rival company Biosyn. My problems with this are simply questions like “Would Dennis really need to disable all of what he did to achieve the escape?”, “Did they not think to retry without the storm?”, “Surely Dennis is paid a fairly fat check for what he manages at JP to not need bribes?” Otherwise, him being eaten by the Dipholosaurus is simply more funsies to the plate.
This movie has a rich palette of thrills to it, with ebbs and flows of tense action interspersed by calmer relaxed scenes to further plot and all that goodsies. It’s a nice 8/10 and easily the best of the first trilogy, it is little surprise that a franchise sprung from this seed.
Movie 02 – Jurassic Park The Lost World (1997)
John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) summons chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to his home with some startling information — while nearly everything at his Jurassic Park had been destroyed, his engineers happened to have a second site, where other dinosaurs were kept in hiding. It seems the dinosaurs on the second island are alive and well and even breeding; and Hammond wants Malcolm to observe and document the reptiles before Hammond’s financiers can get to them.
Jurassic Park was such a massive hit that a sequel was necessary, as there was no way in hell Universal would let this cash cow get gobbled up by the dinosaur of irrelevance. However, the prospect of a Jurassic Park sequel is a lot less… obvious than one might think. The first movie introduced the dinosaurs, established why a dinosaur theme park is a bad idea, because dinosaurs are super powerful animals, and ended with an abandoned dinosaur island.
So… naturally, the movie would follow what happens on this island after the fact, right? Maybe more of a horror movie that explores a group of indigenous folks or explorers venturing to dinosaur island and trying to escape. Or perhaps a military movie about a group of rogue agents from the rival corporation who, instead of taking dinosaur enzymes, just steal the dinosaurs themselves?
Well… no. Instead, the sequel shoe horns in the idea that there was a second dinosaur island, where the dinosaurs have thrived. …Like they did on the first island, which made a big deal about the fact that the dinosaurs could, somehow, lay eggs. The inclusion of a second island basically defeats the moral of the first movie. That dinosaurs are still with us, and while they are fascinating, they should not come back just because it would be cool if they still existed. Hammond, the philanthropist behind the park, learned this lesson, and not only does he relapse on his bad decision, he decides to send a team of field researchers to investigate the dinosaurs. One of which happens to be the girlfriend of funny mathematician man, Ian Malcolm. As such, we have a main character from the first movie going back to the island, a new spunky female lead, and another excuse for dino chaos
The set-up of the film is shakey as all hell, and really makes it seem like little thought was put into how to make the first film into a series. While the rest of the movie… honestly just feels like it’s made of concepts that the writers left on the cutting room floor. What if a pseudo-military organization uses needlessly elaborate vehicles to capture dinosaurs? What if it was a military jungle movie where men with guns slowly get picked off by dinosaurs? What if people got caught in a car that a tyrannosaurus tries to destroy and shove off a cliff— wait, we already did that one… screw it, let’s do it again! Same with the velociraptors trying to enter a human settlement with their mad hops and madder dexterity. Let’s do it again, but make it cooler!
Now, are these set piece scenes good, let alone good enough to hold up an entire movie? Eh… I’d say yes on both fronts, as every one of these setpieces is pretty darn cool. The stegosaurus introduction where they go hog wild after hearing an unpleasant noise. The sorta incompetent dino wrangling scene after the special task force shows up. The truck heck action scene set piece that sees a mama and papa T-Rex. And especially the ten minutes of absolute triumph where T-Rex trots across San Diego.
That, that right there, is enough to sustain an entire 90 minute film, and the film kind of wastes the premise. It’s basically just a ground level kaiju movie mixed with a monster movie, and it’s kind of baffling that wasn’t the starting point of this film… or the third film.
Overall, I think this movie is above average due to the competency on display with its set piece moments, but it is completely bereft of the same level of theming, characterization, or majesty of the first movie. Here, there are scenes that I recognized as being ‘iconic’ but for the absolutely worst reason. Like the transition to a yawning Ian Malcolm, or when the Black girl shows her gymnastics skills by kicking a velociraptor out the window.
…Actually, I think that scene really does a lot to cement the different ideologies between the movies. The first one was very considerate about how dinosaurs are part of nature, while this one… basically just views dinosaurs as monsters to be defeated and controlled. That is not strictly a bad thing, but it almost feels like a fall from grace, and does not breed confidence in the future of this series. Especially the next one, which is supposed to be the worst of them all.
Hmm, I remember this one being better.
Honestly this movie’s review is kind of the same as the previous, the John Williams score is astounding and memorable. The CGI holds up better than I could ever expect for a movie of this age, and the idea of a dinosaur movie simply doest get old. Especially one with a sequence set in gosh dan San Diego, possibly the most memorable section of the entire movie for its wild premise.
However this movie is flawed in regards to its plot, and these are my main problems. The start/set up is annoyingly slow and this part feels surprisingly long. I guess they are probably trying to go with a similar kind of setup to the first movie but I don’t feel like it works nearly as well, perhaps this is because I’ve seen this movie 8 to 10 times now and could watch it on mute without subtitles or problems. The movie picks up once they are on the island for a little over 5 minutes-ish but the opening really puts this movie on the wrong foot starting off and tripping up straight into mud. There’s so much mud in this film I swear..
Beating this bush further, The Lost World really askes its audience not to ask questions while watching it. It simply has no answer for “Why did the t-rexs push the trailer off the cliff?”, “How did they see it after the first movie established them having motion based sight?”, “How did the t-rex break out of the ship and kill people inside the bridge without damaging it at all?” That’s before even getting into the details of other things. This movie is clearly at its best when you simply brain-off, watch and enjoy it as an action movie. And in that situation it delivers, with enjoyable CG Dino vs. RL Human fights, escape sequences with all the good stoofs.
I have to give this movie a 5/10, varying from a 4 to 6 depending on my mood I’d say. This movie simply is one of the weakest in the two trilogies, paying dues to the quality of the rest over this one. I’ve seen it a lot of times and I think it’s finally reached a stage of just a bit too much now.
Definitely still a classic, everyone should see this at least once.
Movie 03 – Jurassic Park III (2001)
After being persuaded by a wealthy businessman to conduct an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, InGen’s second site for a failed Jurassic Park experiment, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) discovers the true reason for his invitation. A tragic accident maroons the party of seven, and they must attempt to escape with their lives.
Going into this movie, I knew two core things. This movie went through some form of development hell, where the script was finished on set. And this movie was over 30 minutes shorter than every other movie in the series. From those two facts alone, it’s easy to reach the assumption that this movie lacked a cohesive idea of what it should be, what it’s trying to do, and what it’s trying to say… And after watching the movie, I have to say that assumption was completely correct.
The premise of Jurassic Park III is kept very simple. Dr. Alan Grant from the first movie is approached by someone promising a blank check for venturing back to the island from The Lost World (which he never set foot on). He begrudgingly agrees after being given a blank check, and it turns out that the people who gave him the check were… blatant liars. An ex-husband and wife duo who scrounge up every dollar they could to venture to this island to rescue their son, who got lost in a parasailing accident. With their plane destroyed by the next generation of dinosaur hotness, a spinosaurus, the three need to escape the island, reach the coast, and get rescued.
During this venture to escape dinosaur island, there are, of course, various set pieces that aim to iterate and build upon the foundation of the prior two movies. Characters trying to run in a dinosaur stampede, a river-based encounter with the spinosaurus, and one especially cool encounter with pterodactyls, just to name a few. However, it is also an action movie where, once you strip away the action scenes, you’re left with… nothing.
Nobody is trying to learn anything, the movie has no real moral or message, the dinosaurs are strictly presented as threats who get in the way of our heroes, and the human characters… suck. You have the lead protagonist from the first movie, jaded and infallible after his experience, so he gets no complaints from me. But you also have an aspiring researcher who does something dangerous for money, a hysterical woman, a competent child who survived in dino country for eight weeks, and a lying dad. None of them are compelling, they feel more like vessels than characters, and while there is an attempt to add some bickering ex-spouse tension between two characters… I just wanted to see them get eaten by a dinosaur to be honest.
Everything about this movie feels like it was made up on the fly, something that was rewritten at the last minute, and because of that, it is full of these strange contrivances. Like Dr. Grant getting knocked out as the plane lands. Hysterical woman bringing a gosh darn megaphone with her… to dinosaur island. The kid being the world’s greatest, dinosaur survivalist. The pants-on-head stupid satellite phone plotline that involves a surprise cameo from a dinosaur that I think just existed so they could make more toys. And the outright comical way the ending promptly ends everything as the military shows up.
It is a downright sloppy movie by people who were trying to make something that worked, while having no idea what they were doing… aside from the action scenes, which were consistently cool! A plane getting torn up by a spinosaurus, a stare down with a group of raptors, the pterodactyl terror pit, the boat cage mayhem, it was all great.
There’s no wonder why this movie put a cap on this series for 14 years. It represents a sheer lack of creativity and imagination among the people responsible for this series, and feels like the bare minimum of what a Jurassic Park movie needs to offer: Dinosaurs doing cool shit!
I won’t say I had a bad time watching it… but that was mostly because Cassie and I kept giving voices to the dinosaur, and riffing on the movie. I don’t know why we thought the idea of the pterodactyls trying to get the humans to invest in cryptocurrency was funny… but it just was.
The Spino one!
This one’s not so great.
Quite frankly the underlying plot is abysmal, even by the low standards you even need for a Jurassic Park movie, where as long as you get the characters on the island with dinosaurs for the thriller chase sequences you’re usually good. However the plotline in this movie is particularly poor, has unlikeable characters (Who do NOT get eaten) and hand waves many important points. This movie simultaneously establishes that Alan Grant will not go back to the island, overwrites that by having him be bribed into it. Reveals that he will in fact not get paid and was scammed and simply never addresses the all important financial frauds at all!
I really don’t like the Kirbys. Amanda Kirby is an agony to deal with during her worst and tolerable at her best, although the latter times are uncommon. This woman simply invites karmic danger with her spliffery of bad decisions such as using a megaphone, yelling, running away into the Jurassic Jungles alone. Paul Kirby suffers from similar problems, although admittedly less-so. Instead trading that for being a lying bastard of a bathroom fittings and hardware store owner. Quite frankly it feels like you are supposed to cheer for these characters to be eaten by the prehistoric reptiles in this movie.
Speaking of which, they really are the stars of the show here, giving the truest idea of how a movie can do poorly in most regards but still be fun to watch with giant lizards. The spinosaurus vs. tyrannosaurus is a memorable classic that no doubt sparked many playground debates over which is better. The pterosaur cage and spinosaurus wall chase feature some of the weirdest moments in the series but I remember them fondly even now. That satellite phone ringtone will never leave my head.
Something I’ve noticed over the years is how… samey, both of the last two movies feel. The amount of times I’ve heard people discuss the movie by getting their order mixed up, confusing scenes for each other. Thinking the spinosaurus is in the latter movie, or the San Diego scene is part of this one etc. And I myself am very much guilty of this as a fan of the series, I have to wonder if this is due to movies being very similar and failing to truly find their identities, leading to some unusual Mandela effect with them.
Either way, this ones a 4/10. Varying from very low to decently high if you segregate the action parts from the Kirbys’ marriage. This movie is the weakest of the whole series and decidedly a low-point. I am always confused when I hear the latter movies disregarded and considered worse than this one and the previous, even if I do enjoy it.
Despite the low ratings, this one’s still great if you love dinosaur action.
Movie 04 – Jurassic World (2015)
Located off the coast of Costa Rica, the Jurassic World luxury resort provides a habitat for an array of genetically engineered dinosaurs, including the vicious and intelligent Indominus rex. When the massive creature escapes, it sets off a chain reaction that causes the other dinos to run amok. Now, it’s up to a former military man and animal expert (Chris Pratt) to use his special skills to save two young brothers and the rest of the tourists from an all-out, prehistoric assault.
So, how does one bring back a series like Jurassic Park after a decade-plus hiatus? Well… the series is actually fairly limited with what you can really do with it. The first movie began with the angle of a ‘WIP dinosaur theme park,’ only for things to immediately go wrong when the systems are disabled. The second one was about a bunch of people and military types going to a different island to capture dinosaurs, and whose biggest idea was ‘T-Rex in the big city.’ While the third one was about a bunch of schmucks escaping from dinosaur island.
So, what does the fourth movie do? …Revisit the idea of a dinosaur theme park with the titular Jurassic World. A fully new theme park that has been in operations for several years, but is dealing with the challenges of a dinosaur theme park. Namely, genetically engineering dinosaurs, caring for them, and creating attractions is really damn expensive. And when people have the opportunity to visit dinosaurs and see them in their natural environment once… they probably won’t want to spend money on the several thousand dollar ticket, and round trip flight. Sure, you can point at the absurd amounts people spend at Disney parks, but those don’t require a 120 mile boat trip or an all-inclusive resort
So, to keep people coming back, the corporate folks running this park decided to take things a step further and… make a new dinosaur! The ultimate dinosaur! The Indomitable Rex! A dinosaur who, naturally, escapes containment 40 minutes in, and the rest of the two hour movie is about dealing with the steady ripple of destruction. Dinosaurs destroy stuff, people get nommed up, death is doled out like it’s going out of style, and about every ten minutes, there is a cool and memorable action set piece to keep things going. All before culminating in a final climax that offers the best dinosaur X dinosaur action this series has seen yet, taking two of the best battle scenes from the prior movies and cranking things to the next level.
Viewing Jurassic World strictly as a series of cool action set pieces, it’s DOPE. The series has always triumphed in this regard, so that’s not really a big deal, but these set pieces also feel distinctly more modern. They know how to make better, often more excessive, use of CG. The dinosaurs themselves are presented as more aggressive and monstrous which, while likely less scientifically accurate, is cooler. And the sheer level of destruction on display is higher than ever before.
It’s also a movie that I feel the need to praise on a visual level. The setting of a dinosaur theme park is wonderfully well realized, from its bustling main street center to its numerous attractions reaching deeper into the habitats. The slight futuristic bend to most of the technology makes the park seem like a true modern wonder, selling the idea that this is one of the most advanced places on the planet. And, this might just be due to the versions Cassie and I are watching, or stem from a general technological advancement, but even the jungle itself seems to pop a lot more. The greens are greener, the scenery is more scenic, and it simply seems more like a place that people would want to visit and see in person.
…But notice how I really haven’t talked about the story or characters? Well, there’s a reason why, namely, I don’t think they’re that great. The movie begins by following a pair of brothers with a notable age gap between them, because it’s a movie about a theme park, so there needs to be a child element in the story. But as characters, there is barely anything there for them, and they more often feel like props. Props with a background involving divorce, because that’s contemporary, and are only more important than any of the 22,000 other visitors because they’re nephews of a business lady executive, Claire.
Claire is the only character with a discernible arc in this story, but even then, it’s barely there. She starts out as a cold unfeeling business woman, tries to rescue her nephews after they go missing, and becomes the film’s go-to action girl, using her knowledge of the park to her advantage. The film really tries to push this arc, complete with a character design shift as she undergoes an outfit change, but… she really doesn’t have anything to learn. She does not come to respect dinosaurs as beings, her actions are motivated by financial and familial relationships, and she does that movie thing where she has to fall in love with the male protagonist, Owen Grady.
I would describe Owen Grady as the action man of this movie, because that’s what he is. He’s buff, he smells bad, he likes motorcycles, and he respects dinosaurs as animals more than anyone else in this movie. I mean, he’s bros with velociraptors, and there’s not really anything manlier than that. However, he also does not feel like a real character. He does not have any flaws, is right about everything, and is highly competent. He feels like someone who was bred in a lab to be the protagonist of an event like this, and is… pretty boring as a result. It’s probable my thoughts on him will change as this trilogy plays out, but in his debut role… meh.
Still, I say this is a good movie. It delivers on the action, looks gorgeous, and is a fun ride from start to finish. A lot of the story feels like it was made up by a kid and their friend playing with kitbashed toys from their uncle, but if you’re in the mindset, that’s not really a bad thing.
Jurassic World, the 4th movie and start of a new trilogy in the franchise after almost 15 years.
Personally, I think this is the most realized film of the lot. The movie is essentially a contemporary version of a successful Jurassic Park, a sprawling theme park stocked to the brim with tourists and crowds everywhere. I could easily imagine the waits in line for the living attractions of this park… ugh. The fantastical experience of a dinosaur theme park marred by REALITY!
On another note, I think this is all good, it solidifies the vibes and really sells the park idea. It’s simply immersive and it carries much of the film.
Another part of this film is the action, a huge part actually. The action resolves majorly round the Antagonal Indominus but is also spread throughout. Including snippets like the first appearance of the Mosasaurus or the Pterodactyl Air Raid complete with Sirens. I don’t know where or who thought that a multi-million dollar park needed an old war air raid siren but it’s great and I’m for it. The pieces of action more than make up for the lulls between, even if you simply aren’t interested in anything but Dinosaur Destruction over dialogue/intrigue of the plot. The movie more than provides and with the modern CGI it looks good doing it too. The Indominus is a worthy villain and the fights surrounding it, especially the ending, are exceptional, one of the highest points of the series as a whole.
However I also want to draw attention to the plot on this one too, as I like it. The basics are simple, a theme park where dinosaurs break loose, but the execution is done well. The movie starts slow but also early using the approach of the Indominus Rex as a way to amp up the stakes from a concealed breakout of an asset to a cataclysmic over-running of the entire parks operation with everyone in danger.
This gives time to introduce and acquaint the audience with this movie’s unknowing dino-chow and set stakes. There’s a strange attention to detail in this movie, such as visualizing the character arc of Claire via her outfit and hair becoming increasingly disheveled. I would be lying if I said this movie’s plot had lows or points of question but ultimately I think this is still the best rendition with its many little bits of well-done parts, even if they don’t perfectly fit together.
All on all I think this movie is a 7/10 to 9/10 depending on how harsh you are. It’s a well done movie that simply needs better connecting juices on parts, however its end goal is simply an action movie with dinosaurs and this part it excels in.
I genuinely think this one is a blast (from the past).
Movie 05 – Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinos while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.
Something strange about the Jurassic Park series is that every sequel up until this point felt… like it did not really know how to continue the story of the past one. But Jurassic World was almost certainly planned as a trilogy from the outset, so it unsurprisingly takes the form of a fairly direct continuation.
After the events of the first movie, Claire is now the head of a dinosaur rights group, and is working with a bunch of quirky young tech startup folks to try and make sure they are protected. But after being home to four movies, the setting of Isla Nublar has decided enough was enough, and is on the verge of complete collapse because nature is fickle like that. This, unsurprisingly, means that protagonist hero action man Owen Grady needs to be recruited from the woods, and the romantic duo need to return to save the dinosaurs. …With the help of a group of private military contractors who claim to be working for a philanthropist. But this is 2018, so if someone is a billionaire… they are evil. That’s not even a matter of opinion, that’s just a fact!
After 24 minutes, the lead duo is back on the island, with two new support characters to replace the children, and need to do their part to secure the dinosaurs. Namely the surviving velociraptor from the prior movie, but also deal with the fact that… the characters are trying to also escape from Fireball Island. Which I initially wrote as a joke, but they actually made a low budget copy of that classic board game as a tie-in.
What ensues… is just an absolute spectacle. Not only do you have rampaging dinosaurs, but you have lava flying from the sky, burning everything, and a cloud of death threatening to consume and kill the protagonists. You have betrayal from military grunts, high-speed dock havoc, underwater action, and the return of those cool hamster balls from the last movie, because they probably made for nifty toys. It’s 15 minutes of some of the most lavish action of a movie of this era (or at least it feels like it warrants such praise), and concludes with a surprisingly sad note, as dinosaur island, the world of Jurassic Park, is DEAD, it is KILLED, and every dinosaur to be found is reduced to a damn fossil!
It is a really bold move… before remembering that they have another dinosaur island they can always bring back. But I still appreciate it for saying that they are done with jungle havoc, and want to do something bigger, bolder, and overall… different! With mansion mania!
Following a twenty minute cool down section, where the characters need to perform a blood transfusion with a velociraptor while trying to stay stealthy on a boat. …Which sounds super strange now that I say it, but it does a good job of cooling things down before moving to setting two. The dino prison!
This sets off the second half of the movie and… I would say that this is where Fallen Kingdom stops being a strictly dinosaur movie, and more akin to an action movie where the unique element is the dinosaurs. You have a prison escape, but the prisoners use dinosaurs to escape from their confinement, and need to free the dinosaurs. You have a cabal of businessman villains who drive into an underground black market lair, where they are bidding on dinosaurs. And when things inevitably take a turn during the final quarter of the movie, things are shifted yet again into a horror monster movie, but with the ultimate dinosaur. And the setting is a decadent mansion, because that’s still one of the best settings for a horror monster movie
It is trying to broaden what the Jurassic IP can be, and I would say it does so pretty well. It builds upon the same basic concepts from The Lost World: A return to dino island, loading dinosaurs onto a boat, and fighting against businessmen who view them as mere financial assets, rather than beautiful animals. All before a dinosaur is let loose in a human place, where chaos and destruction ensue. It is a familiar series of concepts, and, when viewed broadly, means that this entry is not doing a ton that’s totally new.
…But it takes familiar concepts and executes them with the same expertise and skill from the prior movie. Which is to say that, if viewed only as a bunch of action scenes and set pieces, it is an incredible time. The change of scenery offers new opportunities to deliver a visual spectacle. The new dinosaur is way, way more interesting than the Super T-Rex from the last movie, as they both move and look different enough to feel like a whole new creature. And since the story is mostly focused on… avoiding the dinosaurs and people who want to kill the heroes, while trying to also save the dinosaurs, I would say it has a better sense of flow. There isn’t much cutting back between two separate groups, the characters never need to babysit a bunch of rotten kids, and the story has the ability to focus more on what people are here for. DINO ACTION!
And it is all rendered with… so, so much money. This movie cost over $400 million to make, and it really shows. The sheer amount of CG and set pieces used here, the number of dinosaurs just included for background shots, I would call it wasteful… but it’s so much fun that I don’t really care!
On that note, let’s talk about the actual story here. Claire and Owen still feel like fairly flat characters, and have… no arcs to speak of. They are just action man and action girl. Most of the character is interjected by the plucky young startup employees who tag-along for the ride, who add some grounded Hollywood-ified humanity to the proceedings. And the film features an almost obligatory child who… is mostly there to be a child and broach the idea of human cloning, without really doing anything with it.
Again, the story feels more like a kid playing with action figures, but as a sequel, it feels more like the movie is just owning it. It does not want to or care to offer much in the way of narrative, and that’s fine by me, because it delivers on the sheer spectacle and thrill!
It also has one of the best and most promising cliffhangers for a movie that I have seen in… ever. Because this series is long past Jurassic Park, it is past the idea of being an island, it is time for it to reach its true and final form. It is time for a new era to begin. The era… of Jurassic World!
Heck yeah! This one’s my favorite, the Indo-raptor is uber cool and a great hybrid antagonist made of science giving us all the excuse in the world to make it hyper intelligent and do creepily human things!
I’ll be real for a second, broken down this movie is kinda a trainwreck. The car jumping on completely flat terrain, the confusing as heck timeline/travel times, plot points that make little sense if dug into at all. Gosh even I have to complain about the Pyroclastic flow scene, that’s just a sin against geology. This one’s got holes like it got darn chewed up by raptors.
This movie is amazing. The initial return to dino-island sequences are hog-falls of action, spicy quick intrigue and the shock and awe from just seeing a huge Brachiosaurus. It’s quick paced, no-thought action which scene by scene is well executed and hella fun to watch. The military vehicles and convoys, dino-capture goals all make it seem like a more modern recreation of JP2 with a new perspective, higher budget and a knowing that they want to make it cool first and foremost. I really believe this is how the modern movies shine where the last trilogy got bogged down in ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ the newer ones go full into the action element to great success.
As per my previous comment, the characters and plot suffer as expected serving mostly as devices/tools for the movie to use to further itself along as instruments of its orchestra of chaos. I cannot think of too much character development in this movie beyond Maisey realizing her origins and accepting them, also causing a worldwide disaster in the process. Owen/Claire learn to become foster parents? Most characters get eaten in some form, which serves as nutrients for the dinosaur’s growth which I guess is a kind of development..
The plot can be summarized as Take the Dinos from Island > Misuse Dinos and establish evil plans > Rescue dinos and be chased by Indo-raptor > Wrap it all up in a bow to end. It is quite simple, serving as a resource to drive action and this is more than fine. We’re all here to watch the big bad capitalist man get bitten by a T-rex, swung into the air where a Carnotaurus severs off his legs mid-swing and chows down. JP5 knows how to have FUN! Selling dinosaurs for profit and breeding war-machines out of them is a natural, if basic, continuation of the previous movies plot point whilst giving reasonable excuses for things to take place and exist as they do not to mention establishing the most interesting sequel idea of the entire series at the end.
The visuals on this one are astounding, even more so than usual and you can simply feel the budget here. There is no lengthy period of time between fancy shots, from sweeping island landscapes, the emotional brachiosaurus fire or the Indo-raptor roaring under a full moon. That last one is iconic to me but all of them are great, slap ’em on a poster!
The dinosaurs, environments all look beautiful, visual design especially selling the theme with the old architecture of the estate contrasting the cold modern lab underneath and auction pit. The Indo-raptor itself, is such a good design visually for a horror set-up, making full use of it’s longer forearms, human-like hands, large tapping claws and quivering back-spines, I simply love this creatures design, it speaks to me on a level that makes so upset it’s a work of fiction making me unable to declare my favorite dinosaur of all time.
This movie is a 10/10. I don’t even care how biased I am about this, I remember people being critical of this movie calling it worse than JP2/3 and that’s a horrendous lie. I tried to find and buy the LEGO model of the Indo-raptor (Fookin £50 y’all is wild). I went and bought physical copies of every movie and saw the next movie in theaters. It revived my interest in this franchise so much.
I love this one, I’ve watched it so many times now.
Movie 06 – Jurassic World Dominion (2022)
This summer, experience the epic conclusion to the Jurassic era as two generations unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill in Jurassic World Dominion, a bold, timely and breathtaking new adventure that spans the globe. From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live–and hunt–alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.
…You know how I was excited by the sheer possibilities offered by the last movie? How much I loved the idea of the story being about dinosaurs invading the world? It’s an idea with oodles of narrative potential that could create its own darn cinematic universe as the world is forced to change in the wake of all these dinosaurs. But… this movie doesn’t totally forget about that. It just mostly forgets about it.
Ultimately, the plot of this movie isn’t really about dinosaurs. It’s about the rival dinosaur company, BioSyn (named because they do biological sins) creating a biological super weapon as they revive a species of massive and wildly destructive locust. Why? To monopolize the world’s food supply with a swarm of biological weapons that destroy the crops of their competitors. Which… is so illegal I don’t even know where to begin, but as I like to say, laws are made by billionaires and destroyed by billionaires as they see fit.
With one locust in hand, the movie shifts into dual storylines. One that follows the cast of the first movie infiltrating Biosyn to get the data they need to uncover their obviously shady plan. The other about the new characters— Owen, Claire, and cool high flying action girl Kayla— trying to rescue their adopted clone daughter, Maisie. All so the two can get… some data or something that can prevent the ecological collapse of the world and the deaths of… they call it million. But if there are plagues of dinosaur locusts who breed by the billions, then… that’s game over, my dude. If there’s no food, no crops, then humanity is just done, and dinosaurs will rule the world.
…That would actually be a pretty dope movie series. Where humanity brings dinosaurs and jurassic-era life back to life, only for them to escape and dominate the world, causing humanity to fall hard and modern civilization to collapse. I mean, that’s pretty much just the Planet of the Apes reboot series but with dinosaurs but… is that really a bad thing?
Anyway, as for the movie itself… this premise makes basically no sense as a direct sequel to Fallen Kingdom. It is not about a world full of dinosaurs. And it makes even less sense as a ‘reunion sequel’ that brings back the three main characters from the first movie and pairs them with the leads from the last movie. The unifying factor among all of these people are their connections to dinosaurs… and the plot is about them saving the world from a biblical disaster.
It… it just does not make sense as a sequel, and I have no idea how the creative lead of this reboot trilogy, director Colin Trevorrow, thought this was an even sensible end to the series. Just skimming through the Wikipedia summary on the production of this film makes it seem like Trevorrow had oodles of ideas, and nobody was around to tell him that they didn’t fit together. …Or maybe the script underwent a bunch of last minute rewrites during filming, because this film was shot throughout the height of the pandemic. …Alternatively, you could just point out how Trevorrow came up with the notoriously bad story of Rise of Skywalker, and deem him either a hack, or someone who has amassed so much clout that he has gone deranged.
I won’t say that the story itself is bad… but it is a jumbled mess of ideas without a coherent whole, filled with so many little things that could drive someone insane trying to understand them. The story struggles to make all the characters feel like they have a place or necessary role. The corporate avarice and incompetence is so extreme that it’s not even fun. The way it handles the global collapse concept is the sort of thing that only makes sense when writing at 2 AM, but becomes complete nonsense by the time you finish breakfast. And not the fun kind of nonsense that was seen in the past few movies. The kind of nonsense that someone can only achieve when they are trying to do something smart… but they don’t know what that is.
That all being said… the Jurassic World trilogy is one that I have come to enjoy almost entirely because of its visuals and action. Which… are generally quite good.
Rather than being set in just one or two central locations, this is a globe trotting adventure. Shifting from winterswept rural America to the vibrant Mediterranean city of Valletta to the gorgeous forests of the Dolomites, with plenty of other stops in between. All of which have their own unique visual identity, and make the events feel larger and more significant than anything before them.
However, this increased scale also comes with an increased reliance on CG and visual effects. Something that I feel the prior films delivered upon quite well. The dinosaurs were still very clearly CG most of the time, and a trained eye could detect when they were switched out for a physical model. But when things were destroyed, they looked like they were getting destroyed. And the level of detail and care placed into the movements of the dinosaurs remained consistently impressive
With Dominion… everything just looks a little more fake. I can only assume this is due to a greater workload being put on the FX team due to COVID restrictions on filming, the grand scale of everything, and the sheer number of dinosaurs and creatures to animate. I can only imagine that the workload was immense, with creators needing to work under a state of perpetual crunch to make the Summer 2022 release window. Which is why it stinks that the final product looks so rushed. Like it never received a final pass of TLC to make sure the dinosaurs moved just right and consistently felt like animals. Not monsters.
When it comes to the action though… it’s pretty much nonstop bangers, and cool scenes after cool scenes. The first ten minutes of this movie contains the dino whale from the first movie destroying an entire boat. A YouTube mini doc to exposit how dinosaurs have changed the world, which is peppered with these spiffy little vignettes that get you hyped to see how this world changes. A baby dinosaur heist and car chase. And then a bunch of cowboys wrangling up dinosaurs in the snow.
It starts strong, and keeps on delivering the goods. I initially thought the movie peaked with the spy action investigation and chase sequence in Valletta. With its skeevy dinosaur black market, exaggerated villains, and the absurdity of running away from raptors in an exotic city like this. But then the movie just… loses its damn mind and sees an infinite swarm of locusts get incinerated, only to escape from their containment and out into the wild. Where they form a black cloud of flaming death, dropping the burning husks of the countless locusts across the forest, engulfing it in flames. It is the most apologetic world-ending thing. It makes absolutely no sense on any level… but it’s so cool that I have to love it.
Admittedly, it does end on kind of a… flaccid note, with a barely three minute fight sequence before a genuinely baffling epilogue where the entire conflict is solved off-screen. But at that point, I had two hours of hardcore dinosaur action, so I was good. I was happy!
…So in conclusion, I can acknowledge that Jurassic World Dominion, as a movie with story, characters, and things you are supposed to care about, it’s far from good. It’s sloppy, and well past the border to bad. But as a vehicle to deliver visually captivating action sequences… It’s freaking dope! Just like the two movies that came before it!
Jurassic World Dominion is a weird final addition to this franchise, feeling notably different to other movies and somewhat failing to deliver on expectations.
Let’s start with that last one. After Fallen Kingdom’s end, to say that expectations were high is understatement, even I was so excited that I went to see it in cinemas and the last movie I had seen like that was the gosh darn 4th PotC movie. However the thrilling idea of dinosaurs running amok in cities, urban centers, that amazing shot of the T-rex/lion are instead scarpered at the start by a time-skip. Biosyn have captured the majority of the dinosaurs and hold them up in their sanctuary and instead we’re focussing on… locusts. There is one scene, a dual-car chase throughout the island of Malta with raptors but that’s all you’re getting after all the advertisement and stuff with the whole big city blocks. In the same vein that Hoopa suffered, JW6 promised big and just didn’t really deliver here.
The plot is strange and unusual, with the movie’s writers choosing to focus instead on the idea of genetic engineering leading to an ecological crisis based on insect plagues and this is one of my bigger complaints against Dominion. In simple terms, this plotline is unrelated to dinosaurs that the franchise is based off, making the movie feel unusual as its focus is elsewhere. Normally I let the plot slide when it’s bad in a JP/JW film, but this one feels quite overt to me and doesn’t give the dinosaur action the time it needs to fully shine. And that’s bad. It’s great to see all the cast return and sell the fact that this is the final movie of such a long running franchise, perhaps bloating the characters a bit but ultimately a net positive, the movie’s flaws are not here to me.
The Quetzal plane attack, the initial therizinosaurus/claire scene and especially the final battle. Comparing all of these to the previous two movies shows shorter, less thrilling, scenes. The Quetzal plane attack having less than a minute of actual dinosaur screen time makes it almost a non-factor here! The therizinosaurus scene similarly lacks true and proper tension desired here, with Claire spending most of the scene actively crawling over the ground and the creature simply following her. Comparing this to the initial T-rex scene from JP1 and it’s much longer and deliberate in it’s actions, the T-rex feels much more threatening whereas the Theri seems like a cameo almost. Again the final fight scene is simply too short and too lacking compared to the Indominus battle of JW4 despite having 50% more big scary creatures. JW4 really did its animals justice by putting them into the limelight and giving us some truly good dino-battle fanservice that JW6 is just too timid to do for any period of time long enough to stick. This is the crucial factor of the movie to me that has not been properly seized.
This movie does have entertaining action to it, but I must admit I am unsure how long the surrealness of the flaming Locust Armageddon will hold up through repeat watches over time. Similarly the entirety of Malta is a good time, from the black market to the Atrociraptor chase to the Allosaurus/Carnotaurus in the town center. It’s a carnival day when the scenes last long enough to matter, to stick and then they become fun. It’s great and with 5 movies they should really know what works and what doesn’t by now so it’s shocking that these good scenes are in such short supply. The CGI budget also seems to be… poorer on this movie with the dinosaurs looking seemingly worse and some obvious greenscreen effect over certain parts that simply shouldn’t be there in one of the most expensive movies ever made.
All in all, I think this movie is anywhere from a 4 to 6 out of 10. I enjoy watching it, but thinking back on it I am less enthused, pondering how much of this movie comes from it pulling unusual stunts that entertain me on merits of shock or surprise over being genuinely enjoyable. Only time will tell how this movie will fare in the long term for my rating.
It’s worth a watch, but she’s not taking home no trophies, gurl!
Conclusion- Nataceous Era
And that’s the Jurassic Park hexalogy! Was it good fun? Yep! While I would only say that the first movie is a truly great movie, I can confidently say that… none of them were boring. Even though the storylines for many of them felt either aimless or like they lacked much of a message or theme, they do deliver upon the promise of good dinosaur action, and the in-between bits never felt like they dragged on for too long.
The second and third movies lacked much in the way to add to what the first one established. Part four was a sensible sequel and a good place to start anew, bringing back the concept of the original, but going all the way with it. But while parts 5 and 6 could have built upon this idea, they instead took things into a frankly bizarre direction. One that simultaneously tries to make Jurassic Park its own grungy realistic sci-fi alternate universe, but also doesn’t want to be that at the same time.
It makes me genuinely curious where the series could go from here with its inevitable third trilogy, because with a series this overwhelmingly successful, it truly is only a matter of time.
But as a group of six movies, would I recommend them? …Yes. For all their faults, I cannot deny that I had loads of fun watching them with Cassie, so you should too!
Conclusion – Cassandrassic Era
This one was a bit..
Actually no it was hugely shorter than the previous Movie ramble, that’s just what happens when you cut the number of movies down by 75%. The biggest difference that number makes is that the Jurassic Park franchise simply has fewer attempts to find out what works and what doesn’t, and I definitely think that there’s more that doest work than does.
The second and third movies are simply lacking in terms of plot, the 5th movie has a terrible timeline when considering travel distances and feels thematically different to the franchise which is either hit or miss for the individual. The 6th movie is almost disgraceful, something I would happily lay blame toward Trevorrow for this, citing the similar disaster of Rise of Skywalker.
Seriously, who looks at a dinosaurs-in-modern-times franchise and thinks “We need a plot about corporate shenanigans and global famine?” Or decides to make so little of its runtime dedicated to those dinosaurs. Man the final battle is such a huge letdown, especially considering how good the 4th movie is.
Ultimately looking back at these movies I feel there was great potential that simply wasn’t used due to a lack of understanding of how to use what they had, but nonetheless I still love this franchise. The films are a part of my childhood and certainly played a part in my love of dinosaurs, and I’m very happy to see the franchise expand beyond its first trilogy as I grew older allowing me to come to enjoy it all over again.
Extinction may come and go, but dinosaurs are forever!