There are two truths that must be acknowledged before we begin this exercise in pointlessly trivial sniping. First, it’s never fair to judge a film solely on the merits of its trailer. Especially these days—especially for would-be blockbusters—when previews exist largely as viral “events” jostling for attention among the 10,000 other snackable videos screaming content at you, there’s simply no room for nuance. Every explosion and explosion-related quip is served up at maximum volume; its only goal is to provide the kind of bludgeoning thrills that provoke retweets with reaction GIFs. To exact some sort of analysis or draw a sweeping conclusion based on two minutes of footage from a two-hour film is extremely ungenerous, and it suggests a cynical eagerness to shit on something that has not yet proven itself worthy of being shat upon.
Secondly, Jurassic Park is dumb. It is the extremely entertaining kind of dumb that the movies were made for, yet it is dumb nonetheless. Even in a pop culture landscape littered with high-concept claptrap based on bad science or a total disregard for its existence, the idea of an amusement park filled with dinosaurs genetically cloned from old mosquitoes just chilling in amber is a preposterous premise that any 11-year-old could “wait, what?” into oblivion. It’s to both author Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg’s enormous credit that they were able to spin it into something where you’re having too much fun to even think about it—that you’re actively annoyed when people try to make you, because it’s a dinosaur theme park, you joyless asshole. Just let us have this.
With all that said, the trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is exceptionally dumb. Like its predecessor, it fulfills the base-level expectations for any Jurassic Park film: There are dinosaurs, and people who don’t want to be eaten by dinosaurs. In some respects, this is all we need. The $1.52 billion gross for the first Jurassic World would confirm that this is true. Jurassic World is now the third-most successful movie of all time, even though no one remembers a damn thing about it other than there were dinosaurs and people running from those dinosaurs, and that one of them was Bryce Dallas Howard in high heels. You may also recall some sort of scene where Chris Pratt leads a velociraptor motorcycle gang that you possibly hallucinated. More than likely, you remember the flood of articles—like this one!—nitpicking its myriad disappointments more than the movie itself.
And yet, it made a shit-ton of money, so here we are. So let’s look at what Jurassic World 2 is volleying to counter all those ultimately irrelevant criticisms, then filter it through yet more futile nitpicking.
Ah, there’s more of that old Tracy/Hepburn/algorithm banter that we dimly recollect from Jurassic World’s central relationship. Remember how Howard’s icy career woman Claire and Pratt’s muscly vest-man Owen kind of hated each other, but then, after numerous scenes where everyone else almost got eaten by dinosaurs, they realized they were both the only viable sexual partners left in the film? Surprisingly, the bond they forged when they both finally opened up about how much they love not dying doesn’t seem to have carried over to the sequel, so we get to relive their strained will-they-or-will-they all over again. Subplot satisfactorily established! Let’s get back to the island where we sexily almost died!
Every Jurassic Park sequel must grapple with making this justification: Why would anyone fuck with these dinosaurs again after they have proven demonstrably that they are dinosaurs? The original sequels worked around this by setting up the need to go back for people, whose folly is that they chose to ignore this basic fact. Jurassic World made that ludicrous, illogical hubris the whole point, and not without a little meta self-loathing.
Jurassic World 2 gives us... a volcano.
It’s an active volcano that John Hammond, apparently sparing at least some expense, just kinda shrugged off when he decided to make it the prime real estate for his massive theme park pivoting around a delicate science experiment. And now that volcano is erupting, threatening the lives of every dinosaur left on the island by the many people who have fled it.
Here is the proper response to that: “Good! I vaguely remember almost being eaten by those dinosaurs—who, again, are dinosaurs—and there is a long, documented history of them doing that sort of thing to other people. I think we’ve seen repeatedly that any control we think we exert over them is a delusion, and if I may be pedantic for a moment, it was a mistake to make them in the first place. We went against nature, and now nature is volunteering to sort that out for us. We should totally let it. Now, back to our sexy-funny bickering. Are you dating a house? Because I know you like a doormat.”
But here is Pratt’s actual response: “What could go wrong?” [Wink-wink, honk honk, wiggily-wiggily sitcom spinning thing, smash cut to Pratt on island screaming, “It’s all going wrong!”]
Oh right, Pratt has a little pet dinosaur that he loves. Did you remember that he had a little pet dinosaur? Anyway, her name is Blue and he loves her. She used to sniff his hand! Gotta get Ol’ Hand-Sniffing Blue. Back to Dinosaur Murder Island, now with volcanoes!
“Do these animals deserve the same protection as other species, or should they just be left to die?”
This rhetorical question, drawled by some faceless Senator Tobaccy before the congressional subcommittee on Should We All Be Killed By Dinosaurs?, is meant to embody the overarching philosophical theme behind Jurassic World 2. “A mistake made a long time ago just can’t be undone,” said writer Colin Trevorrow of that central idea, while asserting that it would be a “parable of the treatment animals receive today.” When it really comes down to it, this is about ethics in dinosaur-ism.
The answer is, of course, fuck no, they don’t, and yes, they absolutely should—and furthermore, mistakes can absolutely be undone, preferably by a huge, cleansing fire. These are artificial, God-defying animals that shouldn’t exist, whose most established traits are that they cannot be contained and eat people. The idea that you have nevertheless forged some sympathy for these misbegotten abomination—Howard’s character, whose most established trait was underestimating just how much dinosaurs want to eat her, is now apparently the leader of the “Dinosaur Protection Group”—all of that doesn’t change the fact that dinosaurs patently do not give a shit about your politics. They will eat you and shit out your Coexist shirt.
And yet, you saw that Sarah McLachlan commercial with the puppy-eyed brontosaurs and now you feel bad, so we’re off to the hot lava fields where dinosaurs run rampant, hoping to coax them into coming with you somewhere else—presumably somewhere that is not a remote island, where there is no ecosystem already in place to sustain them, and that is much, much closer to even more delicious people. It’s a moral victory, they can tell themselves as they’re being torn apart by dinosaurs.
Well, it’s at least an attempt at giving this film the patina of being about bigger ideas. “[It will not be] just a bunch of dinosaurs chasing people on an island. That’ll get old real fast,” Trevorrow also said.
In need of an expert opinion on what dinosaurs are and whether they’re bad, the court calls upon one Dr. Ian Malcolm, who [checks records] was almost killed by them a couple of times. You love and definitely remember Ian Malcolm: He does math! His entire role in the original Jurassic Park was to act as the charmingly cynical math-guy inspector for the insurance company who was a bit cautious about backing a dinosaur theme park, so they hired him to tag along and point out all the ways that bringing dinosaurs back from the dead, then tossing people into their cages might be, ah, dangerous. Presumably, Sam Neill’s Alan Grant made good on that threat to commit suicide, taking every living paleontologist with him, because the only one left to weigh in on dinosaurs in Jurassic World 2 is the guy who mostly lounged about making snarky quips in his strategically unbuttoned leather. Here’s a new one:
Thanks for your testimony, Doc! Indeed, dinosaurs were here before us. This is why you get paid the big mathematician bucks.
Really, every Jurassic Park sequel should be the same thing: A new group of strangers approach Jeff Goldblum and suggest they’re thinking about going to Jurassic Park, and Goldblum says, “Are you nuts? Don’t go there. A bunch of dinosaurs live there, and dinosaurs like to kill people. Believe me, I know,” and then the strangers go, “Ohhhhh, right.” Honestly, the franchise’s legacy would be about the same.
Also, how much does Goldblum clearly not give a shit about what he’s called in interviews a completely excisable “sprig of parsley” of a cameo? He looks like he wandered over between Apartments.com shoots; he didn’t even bother to shave his Jeff Goldblum-concealing beard. The trailer is also half taken up by him regurgitating his “Life finds a way” monologue like he just got interrupted at dinner. There is zero chance he has more than about 60 seconds of screen time.
Remember how excited you were in Jurassic World when the kids whose parents were maybe getting divorced or whatever, who cares, found the old Jurassic Park Jeep and the night-vision goggles, and then John Williams’ theme played and suddenly your own parents were back together and you were 12 again and everything was taken care for you and you didn’t have to go to work anymore and you could just play Nintendo?
Well, here Pratt reunites with Blue in what looks like the original film’s T-Rex paddock, in front of what is probably the wreckage of the Jeep from that movie! And then Pratt, Howard, and newcomer Justice Smith—who plays a young, open-mouthed scientist—are chased by a rampaging herd of dinosaurs in a scene reminiscent of that film’s “flocking Gallimimus” sequence! And then, as they huddle around one of those hamster balls from Jurassic World that you also remember but frankly, don’t particularly feel one way or the other about, they’re nearly attacked by a dinosaur—only for the T-Rex to suddenly swoop in and save them, exactly like Jurassic Park’s big climax!
He even does his big hero’s stance with the trumpeting roar and everything! “Roaaaaarrrryou’reyoungagainandtheworldisn’tyourproblem!” One ticket, please!
All right, everyone? She put on some boots. Everybody shut up.
Do you also vaguely recall that Vincent D’Onofrio turned up in Jurassic World as some sort of military guy who wanted to make super dino-soldiers and then gave lots of windy, macho speeches about war and nature and the evolutionary supremacy of the goatee? Well, anyway, there’s some more military bullshit in this, it looks like. Hey, maybe someday they’ll finally get around to making that human-dinosaur hybrid super-soldier concept they’ve been dancing around for the past decade.
Or maybe that’s where there is headed? Trevorrow himself has said the trailer only covers the first 57 minutes of the film, leaving an entire half in which that could potentially be explored—or anything else along the lines of what Trevorrow has hinted will involve the idea of dinosaur technology going “open-source,” ostensibly leading to yet more dinosaurs being created by yet more corporate opportunists, then eating the people who realize too late that it was a bad idea. Of course, this, too, would raise the question of why anyone would spend one minute—let alone 57 of them—traipsing across a volcano trying to rescue a bunch of dinosaurs when anybody can just make more of them, and the only way to stop that is to, you know, not. But then, Jurassic Park was never really about satisfying answers. It was always about the friends we made along the way to being eaten by dinosaurs.
And also, it’s just a trailer—one that doesn’t even touch on the film’s third act. There’s still every chance that, ah, life will find a way toward redeeming this dumb, pandering two-minute preview that I just spent 2,000 words grousing about. Either way, it will make a billion dollars.