By Shreehari H
An Indoraptor is a killing machine unlike any other. Endowed with fang-like serrations that protrude throughout the length of its spinal cord and with eyes that radiate so much malice they could well pass themselves off as Infinity Stones, it is a creature for the future made from pieces of the past, a “perfect weapon for the modern age” with technical responses more acute than those of any human soldier. Capable of isolating and tracking prey in complex environments, it attacks when triggered by acoustic signals, and is the predecessor of this selfsame beast—the Indominus Rex—that was responsible for taking down Jurassic World three years ago.
Much like the heavily flawed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the Indoraptor is but an unfinished product—a prototype of sorts.
Chaos reigns supreme throughout. J.A. Bayona’s film opens on the island of Isla Nublar, located 120 miles off the west coast of Costa Rica, where trouble is never too far off. A terranean dinosaur and its marine counterpart vie with each other—this amidst a torrential downpour—for a good nighttime snack. Many a human bone is snapped in the process, and this leads us to the moral dilemma that lies at the heart of the film—do dinosaurs, given their proclivity for destruction, merit the same kind of protective care that is offered to other species on the verge of extinction?
Lawsuits are filed, damages are sought, and an aged Jeff Goldblum tries to put things in context. “We altered the course of natural history,” he says. “I am talking about manmade cataclysmic changes. Changes like death.”
There’s a rather unsubtly named initiative called the Dinosaur Protection Group that aims to secure federal funding, and there is an adequate helping of political hokum as well (“We cannot condone government involvement in what amounts to a privately owned venture,” a spokesperson tells us.) As Goldblum’s character puts it, both avarice and political megalomania have taken over the planet for good.
As is painfully evident, the entire story of the film is one gloriously ill-conceived masquerade.
Dinosaurs, of course, remain the star attraction of the franchise—velociraptors, ankylosauruses and allosauruses all make an appearance at some or other point in this tone-deaf movie where humans continue to get scrunched like breakfast cereal. The film is best viewed with earmuffs and a healthy dosage of aspirin, one in which many a standard horror movie trope is employed as well. Any silence—a welcome respite, as it were—is solely for the purpose of foreshadowing impending danger, and the acting here is strictly unidimensional (there’s even a security guard who looks like a poor man’s Prince Harry, and a business partner who looks like a grizzled, embittered James Cameron). A special case must be made, however, for young Isabella Sermon, whose portrayal of Maisie Lockwood is so charming, so vivacious that is impossible to take your eyes off the screen each time she appears on it.
The production design, as always, is first-rate—one particular single-take scene involving a half-submerged pod is breathtakingly well-executed—but the story falls flat because of how conspicuously it hews to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original (goats are sacrificed, limbs are detached, and humans unsuccessfully seek refuge underneath cars as usual.) There’s even a fight scene between two dinosaurs that feels derivative, save for the fact that we see it unfold in slow-motion this time.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom tries too hard to be spiffy, but bereft of both novelty and genuine surprise, it ends up feeling like a painfully iffy retread instead. The only kingdom to have crumbled here is that of a visionary who ensured we would never see either great white sharks or dinosaur fossils in the same light again. This film may be about all things Mesozoic, but it has the personality of a pachyderm.
Shreehari H is a lover of films and an even greater lover of writing.
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