Wednesday, October 10, 2018

My Pet Raptor

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Director: J.A. Bayonne
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard Howard, James Cromwell, Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, BD Wong, Jeff Goldblum

Spoilers ahoy!

I know the new Jurassic World movies get a lot of flack, but I still enjoy them. I think they are much better than Jurassic Park's two awful sequels, but that isn't a very high bar to cross! Look, there are a lot of stupid things in this movie that don't make any sense at all, but we'll cover all of those. As you may remember, in the previous Jurassic World, which only took place three years prior, many people were killed after everything went to hell at the dino theme park. The park is gone, but the dinosaurs still roam the island where there's a volcano that's expected to erupt "at any moment." Hang on one second. Nobody checked with a geologist first to see if opening this park (that was only open three years before the volcano would erupt!) on this island would be a good idea? (Obviously, it was NOT a good idea with or without a volcano!) So even if dinosaurs hadn't gotten loose and killed a bunch of visitors, both people and animals would have died in the inevitable volcano eruption. That's really reassuring.

There's a global debate over what should be done about the dinosaurs. Do they deserve the same recognition as other endangered species? Should they be protected from the volcano or left to die on the island, as Ian Malcom (in a cameo reprised by Jeff Goldblum) suggests because they should have never been cloned in the first place. Of course Ian Malcolm is going to be against the rights of the dinosaurs. He's had two harrowing experiences with them. (Though I don't believe that The Lost World or JPIII are canon in this rebooted Jurassic universe, but correct me if I'm wrong).

Our two heroes from the previous movie, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) go to the island to help an operation get the dinosaurs safely off of it. I understand why Owen is there because he has a relationship with Blue, one of the raptor he raised and trained in the previous movie. By the way, while I remember one raptor (there were four total) being killed in that movie, I don't remember two more also being killed, but apparently Blue is the only living raptor left. (Hmmm, I went back and read my review for that movie and I do mention only one raptor remains alive). It's a good thing Blue was the one who lived because she seems to have the best relationship with Owen. We see training videos of Owen working with the raptors when they were babies and Blue is the only one to show any sign of empathy. When Owen sees what would happen if he was vulnerable the other raptors try to attack him, but Blue tries to comfort him. And, yes, it is very cute. It doesn't make much sense for Claire to go, but ironically she is the one who has to persuade Owen to help her rescue the animals, namely Blue. When did Claire become such a bleeding heart for these animals? She never seemed to care much about them in the first movie; she only cared about the profit they brought in. But in this movie she is all about their rights and saving them. I will say she does seem more soft-hearted towards the herbivores, though!

Hey, that staff looks familiar!
She is recruited by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who is - get this - the partner of John Hammond. Uh...why were we never told this in Jurassic Park? Because they just made him up for this movie, that's why! He and his assistant, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) have a plan to move as many species as they can to another island. However, while Lockwood's intentions are pure, Eli's are not and right when we met him I knew he was going to be a bad guy. In fact, a lot of the predictions I made about this movie came true, that's how transparent it was. He wants Claire and Owen to help him because Owen is the only one who can get Blue. Eli has plans to create a new dinosaur using Blue's DNA and the DNA from the Indominus Rex, which, you may remember, was the genetically created dinosaur from Jurassic World who was the one who started all the havoc and was eventually done in by the T-rex. The movie starts with two guys locating and collecting the remains of the I-Rex underwater. They and the little bubble contraption they're in are swallowed whole by the mosasaur, the huge aquatic dinosaur that makes a great white look like a guppy. When one of the men is trying to communicate with them, telling them he is going to shut the underwater gate, he (obviously) gets no reply. This guy has to be the stupidest person in this movie (although he has some contenders!) because when the other men on the truck are waving and screaming at him, he shouts, "What is going on? I can't hear you!" Uh...what do you THINK is going on? Let's see, you're on an abandoned island where dinosaurs are roaming freely and people are frantically shouting at you and telling you to get on the truck. Seriously, you would have to be a moron to not understand that there is probably a big dinosaur with big teeth somewhere in the area, and sure enough, the T-rex is right behind him. The other men make it to a helicopter and are able to fly away and they send down a rope to the man who manages to climb on it, just barely missing the chomping jaws of the T-rex. As they were flying over the water, I knew right away that the mosasaur was going to jump up and grab him, but I also thought he was also going to take the helicopter down with him, but it manages to fly away. I did re-watch the trailer and that scene is in it, so maybe subconsciously I must have remembered that, but I honestly didn't know it was in the trailer. There is another scene from the trailer that I remember vividly and I'll talk about that when I get there.

What is it with the new Jurassic movies creating new species of dinosaurs? Are the dinosaurs that actually
roamed the earth not scary enough? Do we need something more ferocious than the T-rex? It used to be that the velociraptor used to be the true villains of these movies, at least the first movie. I remember them in TLW, but don't think they were as prevalent and I'm sure they're in the third movie, but I don't remember anything about that movie (which is probably for the best!) But in these new movies, they have decided to make raptors friendly and cuddly pets. Okay, maybe not quite, but they have strangely become dinosaurs we're rooting for. They're still dangerous, but if you're Chris Pratt or a friend of Chris Pratt's, then they will not try to kill you. I guess this is why we need new dinosaurs to be the Big Bad.

This new dinosaur is to be called the Indoraptor and Mills has plans to create it to be trained and used as a weapon for military combat. This was brought up in Jurassic World by that movie's bad guy played by Vincent D'Onofrio and I was thinking to myself, Wait, where is he? before I realized, that duh, he was the bad guy in that movie, so of course he had a vicious death! Let it be known that if you are a bad guy in the Jurassic movies, you will get a horrible, gruesome death, although still not as  horrible and gruesome as the woman who worked for Claire and watched her nephews when they came to visit the park.

A paleo-vet working on her very first patient
Claire and Owen join a team led by a man named Wheatley (Ted Levine). He is a terrible character, pulling the teeth out of sedated dinosaurs to make a necklace and just treating the animals inhumanly all around, so you know he's going to get a horrible death. (Spoiler alert: he does!) There are two new characters who are brought in to help Claire and Owen. They are really there to serve a purpose: when the movie needs them, they show up, when they aren't needed they conveniently find a way to get a rid of them (and no, I don't mean they get eaten by dinosaurs...since they are on the good guy's team, they don't die). They are tech nerd Franklin (Justice Smith) who is there to help them with anything computer related and Zia (Daniella Pineda) is a paleo-veterinarian  who has never seen a dinosaur in her life...huh? She is there to help Blue who gets shot by one of the men who is there to aid in the capture the animal.

The volcano erupts and our heroes manage to make it on a boat that has secured many, but not all of the dinosaurs. (I actually have no idea how many dinosaurs were on the boat and how many were left on the island to perish). There is a really sad scene of a brachiosaurus bellowing and crying as she is being swallowed up by smoke and fire. Wasn't that how Little Foot's mother died in The Land Before Time?  If a baby brachiosaurus had come up to her, I surely would have lost it! (Although, technically, Little Foot and his mother were apatosauruses, which are (I think?) the same thing as a brontosaurus? IDK. It's a good thing I'm not a paleontologist! We do see a mother and baby triceratops which share a very tender Dumbo-esque moment which is very cute.

The boat is sailing back to the California coast where Lockwood's massive mansion is located. This house makes the house in Home Alone look like a shack. It's a residence, museum, and laboratory all combined in one huge building. There's also an underground system of cages where they keep the dinosaurs in. They have come to the building to be auctioned off.

A man named Eversol (Toby Jones) is heading the auction and he has brought a bunch of his wealthy clients from all over the world to the mansion to bid on the dinos. What exactly do they plan to do with these dinosaurs? We do hear that one man wants to buy a baby triceratops for his kid. (And major points to that kid if he names his new pet Cera). What happens when that baby grows up? I suppose a lot of these people are going to exploit these animals and have people pay to see them. We know the theme park in Jurassic World was open for ten years, but I always imagined that not even one percent of the world's population ever got to see it because the tickets had to be astronomical, not to mention the flight to Costa Rica. So there's probably a huge mass of people who have never even seen a dinosaur (like the veterinarian who has specialized in dinosaurs!) I do wonder about the one man who wanted to buy TWO carnivores. There's something shady with him. Also, how do these people plan to take their new pets home? How does the man from Indonesia plan to take his ankylosaurus home? (The one he got for a great deal for only ten million dollars. Seriously, does that seem pretty cheap to you for paying for a dinosaur? I know the ankylosaurus might not be as well known as the T-rex or a stegosaurus, but it was still an extinct creature brought back to life! Even the 21 million that was paid for another dinosaur (was it the allosaurus?) still seems quite low.) I would love to know who would have bidded on the T-rex and what they planned to do with that monstrosity. However, before we get a chance for her to be put up on the bidding block, all hell breaks loose.

As a "special treat", they bring in a prototype of the Indoraptor to show prospective buyers. It is not for sale as it still needs to be tweaked by the geneticist, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong). The Indoraptor looks similar to a raptor, but is bigger, as we will later see the two fighting each other. It is supposed to follow human command, which I find laughable because this thing does not look like it's very obedient! All the dinosaurs are brought out in cages and this one is snarling and snapping at the bars. Eversol demonstrates the effects of the new species by pointing a laser at some poor guy sitting in the front row (and he looks a little nervous!) The dinosaur locks on to him and when a trigger sound goes off, that is his signal to attack. I really thought he was somehow going to get out and kill the guy (not to mention everyone else in the vicinity), but that doesn't happen...yet. He does try his darnedest to get out! Even though this is only a prototype and not ready to be put on the market ( I don't think it will ever be ready!), it goes to an Eastern European guy for almost $30 million. I want to know what this guy plans to do with that creature!

This is around the time Owen makes a distraction by unleashing a
stygimoloch, a human-sized
 dinosaur that starts butting into people. Everyone runs out and the Indoraptor is left alone in its cage where Wheatley sees it and decides to sedate it and get one of its teeth for his necklace. In one of the stupidest scenes in the movie, as Wheatley is attempting to pull one of the teeth, we see the dinosaur open its eye, then close it again and almost smile in a cartoony way. It literally made me groan out loud. Why do we need that scene? Of course we know the dinosaur is still awake and is pretending to be out. Of course we know that this character, who has already been established to be a villain is going to get a horrible and gruesome death at the hands (or should I say teeth, haha) of this evil and terrible creature. We don't need the cute hints that this Big Bad is about to strike. It's so dumb. Well, of course Wheatley realizes the dinosaur is not out and gets his arm bitten off before being killed. The Indoraptor gets out of his cage where he kills and attacks Eversol in an elevator. There were about four other people in there as well and I assume they probably got it as well. I feel bad for them because they really didn't do anything wrong...

So now we have this creature (said to be the scariest in the Jurassic franchise...don't they say that with every new creature they create?) loose in the mansion. The only bad guy still alive is Eli and he has smothered Lockwood with a pillow. As with every movie that preceded this one, a child comes into play. This time, it's a young girl named Maisy who is the granddaughter to Lockwood. She spends most of the movie whispering, "Grandpa, Grandpa!" We assume she's the daughter of Lockwood's daughter who was killed in a car accident. But then we soon learn that she is not his granddaughter, but rather a CLONE of his daughter and Hammond cut his ties with him because he thought what he did was "unholy". Yeah, cloning humans...probably not a good idea. I mean, look how it worked out for Michael Keaton in Multiplicity.

Claire and Owen join up with the girl and they all get chased by the Indoraptor around the mansion. Supposedly this thing has a keen sense of smell, but somehow can’t sniff its prey out when they’re all literally right below its nose. I know she’s just a scared little kid, but Maisy does something really stupid that puts her as another contender for the stupidest person in the movie (though, she is a clone, so at least she has that excuse!): she runs away from Claire and Owen (who has a gun) and hides under the covers in her bed. Like that’s really going to help you. Also, her room is easily three times the size of my apartment. The shot of the claws reaching towards her in the bed is the one I remember from the trailer and I remember thinking, How is she going to get out of this one? I knew she was going to be okay because while the kids in Jurassic movies come very close to their demises, they never get killed off. At the very last second, Owen comes in with his gun and shoots the Indoraptor, but it doesn’t seem to affect it and when he runs out of bullets and is about to be cornered, who should come in and save him? Blue, his trusty pet velociraptor. I saw this coming a mile away. The two dinosaurs fight and the Indoraptor ends up falling into a glass ceiling and impaling itself on the horns of a triceratops model. 

Meanwhile, the other animals are dying from a poisonous gas that has been let lose and Claire wants to free them, but doesn't  know if she should, but Maisy steps in since they’re clones like her and they also are alive. Mmm, I don’t know if that was such a good idea, but I did feel bad for the dinos, so I may have done the same thing. We see them all running out of the building and of course Eli gets his comeuppance when he gets eaten by the T-rex. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the T-rex eat anyone: I don’t think she had any human snacks in Jurassic World. It looks like the next movie is going to be about all these dinosaurs running amok on the West Coast and I’m sure plenty havoc is to be had. It also looks like the T-rex made her way to a zoo because she is shown roaring at a lion who roars back at her. Please…that lion would be shaking in its fur! 

Throughout the film I noticed some callbacks to the first movie. When they return to the island and are looking at the brachiosaurus in awe (the first dinosaur that dinosaur vet Zia has ever seen) is very similar to when Alan and Ellie see the brachiosaurus (in fact, it might even be the same one). The scene where they’re running away from the erupting volcanos and all the other dinosaurs join them reminds me of the scene where Grant, Lex, and Tim are running away from the flock of Gallimimus. The scene in this movie is a little more alarming because not only are they trying to not get struck by hot spewing lava rocks, but every type of dinosaurs is running in their direction: not just ostrich-sized ones. It’s really a wonder nobody got trampled on. And the scene that gave m a real flashback to Jurassic Park was when Maisy, who is running away from the Indoraptor, gets into a dumbweighter and is desperately trying to shut the door and manages to pull it down a second before it reaches her. This obviously reminds me of the scene from the original movie when Lex gets into a pantry with the same kind of door and wants the raptor to come to her to get it away form Tim, but she can’t shut the door and it ends up attacking her reflection. 

I did learn some new things from this movie: I learned about dinosaurs I’ve never heard of before like the aforementioned ankylosaurus, and stygimoloch, the baryonyx, and the carnotaurus.

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