Jurassic World and the Dawn of Dinosaur Dosti

Pop Culture

Jurassic World and the Dawn of Dinosaur Dosti

Illustration: Akshita Monga

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the cinema for the morning show of Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom was that the hall looked like Lord of the Flies. Children of all ages filled the seats, spilling popcorn and filling the air with an excited chatter while mildly irritated parents tried to control their charges. It took me back 20 years, when I was the kid dragging my flustered mom and dad to go see “the dinosaur movie” which kickstarted the now five-film-old franchise, Jurassic Park.

Back then, as the terrible lizards ran amok on the screen, my parents shed their annoyance – they were lured in by a plausible story, captivating performances, and an original plot. Jurassic Park was a film meant to cash in on children’s obsession with dinosaurs, but the way it captured adult attention has helped it endure as a classic even today. At the screening of The Fallen Kingdom, however, the grumpy adults found no solace, even as the little ones were predictably stoked to identify favourites like the T-rex, stegosaurus, triceratops, and of course, the velociraptor.

Stepping in to take forward the legacy of an inimitable classic like Jurassic Park is not easy. Of the five films in the series, none has really lived up to the standard set by the original. Even so, out of all the underwhelming sequels, The Fallen Kingdom stands out as the worst.

When Jurassic World released in 2015, some people, including me, wondered if the series even needed to be rebooted. The Fallen Kingdom confirms these fears.

The Jurassic series used to be a film event for all ages. The Fallen Kingdom is patently childish. The ten-year-old boy in the seat next to me spent a good chunk of the movie’s second half explaining to his mom why Blue, the velociraptor that’s besties with Chris Pratt’s Owen, is a “good” dinosaur. In my head, I wondered how he would react to the terrifying raptors who ruthlessly hunted the kids, Timmy and Lex, in the original film. His mother, like me, was having trouble suspending her disbelief and wrapping her head around the concept of dino dosti.

Apart from completely implausible, feel-good interactions between the lead characters and the dinosaurs (who seem to magically only kill the bad guys), the signature Jurassic aesthetic is missing. While the preceding film, 2015’s Jurassic World, was also a disappointment, the one thing it had going for it was that the never-ending parade of in-jokes and references. The shift of setting from tropical Isla Nublar to a spooky mansion and a verdant private estate lend The Fallen Kingdom the air of a moody horror film, not a high-octane blockbuster.

When Jurassic World released in 2015, some people, including me, wondered if the series even needed to be rebooted. The Fallen Kingdom confirms these fears. The director of Jurassic World, Colin Trevorrow, returns as a co-writer, and his script allows this installment’s director JA Bayona to steer a course even further away from the source material. With pet raptors and human cloning stretching believability in an already unbelievable series too far, the franchise has become a badly written fan fiction version of itself. Throwing in some token fan service by having Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm appear for a couple of minutes at the start and end of the film isn’t going to fool us at this point.

All things considered, it is fitting that The Fallen Kingdom looks and feels more like a horror movie than an adventure story. For if you go looking for the magic that made you a fan of Jurassic Park, all you’ll find are ghosts.