THE PARK — Few trips to the theater have had quite the impact on me that "Jurassic Park" did when I first saw it.
That was the first time I was truly in awe while watching a movie in the theater. The first film had everything you could ask for: drama, action, humor and tension. Even as a 10-year-old, I recognized the brilliance of the film and it still stands as one of the greatest cinematic experiences of my life.
With the four subsequent films made since 1993 I keep waiting for that magic to happen again, but "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" let me know that will never happen with this franchise. Or at least it likely won't.
This isn't me telling you that "Fallen Kingdom" is an awful movie, but at the end of the day, it's just fine. Nothing more, nothing less.
Here are some reasons "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is entertaining enough but doesn't hold a candle to the original "Jurassic Park."
The real selling point of most of these films have been the dinosaurs, and "Fallen Kingdom" really ups the ante. It felt like "Fallen Kingdom" had more dinos than almost anything else in the franchise. I'm sure I'm wrong on this, but the filmmakers made sure to make the previously extinct animals the focus of this film.
This seemed to lessen the impact of the human characters, but in a way that was OK because the dinosaurs made for some fun action and tense moments.
In a lot of ways "Fallen Kingdom" is not a good movie and we'll get into that, but it is a fun movie.
Between all the action, peril and chaos I had a good time at the theater. "Fallen Kingdom" tries to tap into its roots of borderline horror genre with man-eating monsters hiding in the shadows with some success. I didn't feel the dread and tension I did when watching the raptors sneak up on Muldoon in the original, but I was clutching my seat at times and clenching my jaw.
If "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" was just a 10-minute short of the opening scene, I would have given it a 10 out of 10 and called it brilliant.
I don't want to give away what happens, but this felt like vintage "Jurassic Park," and it had me on the edge of my seat and saying, "Oh no. Oh no. Oh no," to myself over and over again as soon as the first specs of light showed up on screen.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film never matches the opening scene's magic, but the first few minutes are fantastic.
While the action was pretty solid and the film offers up some truly great moments, overall the script felt lazy. Characters were shallow, motivations were weak and the dialogue was often predictably terrible.
A good example of this is when a crew lands on the island and someone says, "It's so hot here." Chris Pratt's character, Owen, then looks at an active volcano and says, "It's about to get a lot hotter."
I think I audibly groaned. I feel like this kind of dialogue belongs in an 80's action flick, not a studio film with proven writers and directors in 2018. I'd forgive it if there were the only line, but the movie is full of this kind of banter.
Another area the script felt lazy was how perfectly everything works out. It almost made things too easy and had me rolling my eyes.
I don't want to say I was bothered that the film wasn't realistic considering we're dealing with cloned dinosaurs, but you never really felt any danger for any of the characters because everything was set up so perfectly with ladders that seem to appear out of nowhere and dinosaurs or other characters materializing from thin air to save the day.
Once or twice is forgivable, but several times in a two-hour period is pushing it.
I appreciate it when reboots, remakes or sequels hearken back to the original film that gave it life, but "Fallen Kingdom" seems to be an entire film dedicated to little homages to "Jurassic Park" and forgot to be a film of its own.
A few of the nods to "Jurassic Park" made me smile, but 20 minutes in and we'd already had three or four and it never stopped. To me, it was just another testament that none of these films will be able to live up to the original.
As I mentioned earlier, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," is fine. It will entertain you for the most part, but it will have you wanting to drive home and watch "Jurassic Park" to remember how amazing the movie is that kicked off this franchise.
"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril. Check back tomorrow to see Dave Clyde's parents' guide for the film.