I’ve already written about the experience of going to see this film with my son but now I’m going to tell you what I thought of the film.
It’s very entertaining but it’s not a good film. It’s not good in ways that I, as a writer, find irritating but I still enjoyed it. If you like dinosaurs or you have kids that like dinosaurs and are old enough to deal with the level of peril then you’ll probably enjoy it. I’d also recommend it if you have a nostalgic hankering for disaster movies.
Now I’m going to talk about the film in more detail and that means spoilers. There will also be spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok.
The cinematography is excellent, it’s a beautiful film. The visual effects are stunning. The music is pretty good and though it doesn’t quite have the majestic sweep of the music from the original Jurassic Park it does the job. The casting is excellent and the cast do a fine job with the script that they’re given. The problem is the script and to a lesser extent the editing. I find that frustrating as a film fan because those should be the easiest, or at least cheapest things to fix.
The plot is full of holes some of it makes no goddamn sense. None of the dialogue is exactly sparkling and a lot of it is just horribly flat. Every scene with lava in it made me want to throw the director into a volcano. Owen (Chris Pratt) survives at least 3 things that would definitely have killed him – the radiant heat from the lava, the pyroclastic flow and the jump from the cliff into the sea. I half expected him to turn out to be a robot or something.
The director doesn’t seem to know what to do with Blue the raptor. She’s one of the big driving forces of the plot and she saves the human characters several times but she’s not treated like a character in her own right which would make for a far more satisfying arc. She just disappears from the film for long stretches which makes her triumphant slaying of the Indo Raptor feel cheap.
But the scene that I find most irritating doesn’t involve lava, or Blue or plot holes. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen are in the front of the truck about to drive out of the ship and she asks him where the mercenaries are taking the dinosaurs and he says that he doesn’t know. All that scene adds to the movie is run time. It doesn’t develop the characters or move along the plot or build the world. It doesn’t add tension or raise the stakes and it’s not funny. There’s literally no reason to leave it in.
Compare that scene to Thor and Loki in the lift together in Thor: Ragnarok. That’s also a little joining scene and it happens at roughly the same point in the film. That scene is funny and poignant. It shows us how Thor has grown and it gives us a hint of Loki’s ambivalence about that growth. It sets up the action in the next scene, it lays the groundwork for Loki’s subsequent attempted betrayal and his eventual heel turn.
You might be about to suggest that and Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are just better actors. I don’t think that’s it. They’re very good but so are Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. The problem is the script that gave them so little to work with, the director who filmed such a nothing scene and the editor who left it in.
Nevertheless, I’m still probably going to see the inevitable sequel. I just wish it was going to be a buddy movie about Maisie and Blue fighting wildlife crime in the forests of Pacific Northwest.