Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
As soon as I heard that Jurassic World was getting a sequel, I was immediately not interested. Where could the franchise go after Jurassic World? It could only go one of two directions. Get worse and fall into a cesspool trapped in time or it could somehow improve. I’m here to tell you, that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom does neither of those, but at the same time it has its moments that exceed it’s predecessor. Does that make it a good movie? By no means is this movie, good, but it does a lot of things that Jurassic World wishes it could have done.
Ian Malcolm: Genetic power has now been unleashed. And of course, that's gonna be catastrophic.
The film opens up with a group of mercenaries who are scavenging the remnants of Isla Nublar to collect the remains of the Indominus Rex, which is at the bottom of the lagoon. Unfortunately, things are not as dead as they appear. A Tyrannosaurus Rex and of course a Mosasaurus appear to eat various teams. And, unfortunately because this movie needs a plot, despite this the mercenaries recover the Indominus Rex DNA. I wonder what they are going to do with it?
We switch to Washington DC where a debate takes place on if the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar should be saved as the volcano is about to erupt. Ian Malcom returns, and offers that the dinosaurs should be allowed to perish.
Don’t worry, not everyone agrees with Ian Malcom, as Claire Dearing has established the Dinosaur Protection Group to save the animals. Because, she has gone completely one eighty degrees from corporate starling to animal rescuer. The film tries to parallel her path with Hammond from The Lost World, it doesn’t work. We have no character development onto why Claire is doing this, instead here is Claire a character who for some reason has a change of heart.
Claire meets up with Benjamin Lockwood, who is one of Hammond’s former partners. He invites Claire to his estate where she meets is aid Ali Mills. At the estate a plan is revealed to relocate the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary. Claire needs to go to the island and reactivate the park’s tracking system to locate the animals, mostly Blue, the last surviving Velociraptor.
To do this she meets up with Owen Grady and his alpha male complex. Although, Claire has changed, Owen has not, unfortunately. However, after guilting Owen he agrees to follow them to the island. Their team consist of Zi Rodrigruez a paleo-veterinarian and Franklin Webb who is IT for the DPG. (Ha, so original) The team meets up with the Lockwood/Mills paid mercenary team led by Ken Wheatley to find Blue.
On the island, we see the disparity that has transitioned since the park closed down. There are scenes that are both reminiscent from Jurassic Park and The Lost World and even Jurassic World. The volcano is slowly fuming in the background. Building to something that will happen latter. Also, we found out the mercenaries have already been capturing dinosaurs without the tracking system, which is a red flag. Claire and Franklin get through security and turn on the tracking system.
Grady goes with Rodriguez to capture Blue. However, the mercenaries double cross them, who didn’t see this coming after the first red flag? Wheatley even tranquilizes Owen. They take Rodriguez and Blue, and thanks to mismanagement, Blue is injured. It is at this point that the volcano erupts. There is a funny scene with Grady being woke up by a Sinoceratops licking him. But, the lava is coming close and Grady has to deal with the effects of tranquilizer and escape the lava. Meanwhile dinosaurs are trying to flee the eruption, a Baryonyx even enters the area where Claire and Franklin.
Everyone escapes the island. But, a lone scene of the last Brachiosaurus really makes you tear up. If this movie does anything, it has some really good heart-quenching scenes. Franklin, Grady and Claire sneak aboard the ship and find Zia with Blue. However, Blue needs a transfusion and the only creature who can do it is a T-Rex. Another funny scene features the T-Rex getting his blood into a blood bag. It also actually features bonding between Owen and Claire. *shocker*
At the estate the dinosaurs are going to be sold to an action. Masie, the granddaughter of Lockwood finds this out. She wants to protect the dinosaurs and tells her grandfather of Eli Mill’s betrayal. Also, she follows Eli down below to a secret laboratory. There she sees a video where Owen Grady trains Blue. Her video viewing is interrupted by Wu and Eli who talk about a new creature called the Indoraptor. Which, Masie bumps into only for her to get captured.
She isn’t alone, as our apparent protagonists, Claire and Owen are also apprehended. This is while the auction goes off. Owen does his most proactive thing in the whole movie, and one that is still weird. He uses a Stygimoloch to escape. Trust, me this is just the beginning of the lunacy. So bear with me.
Wu wants Blue’s DNA, unaware that she has been contaminated with T-Rex DNA thanks to the blood fusion. Blue is let out by Zia and Franklin, the latter of which tried to save her. Masie informs her grandfather, but Eli ends up killing him off screen.
Masie finds Owen and Claire and the three of them watch the auction taking place. The Indoraptor is brought out and showed in a limited field test. Despite not initially being up for sale, as he is a prototype. Yes, the Indoraptor is a he, the Indoraptor is sold for twenty-four million dollars. Wu protests, but don’t worry the real hero of the movie, Stygimoloch interrupts the Bilionarie’s Black Market Party.
The area is clear, until Wheatley, who now takes the role as the Jurassic Park franchises most idiotic villain opens up the cage and tranquilizes the Indoraptor, only letting it out in the process. The Indoraptor kills him and many of the guests. The beast then hunts Masie, Claire and Owen. In the escape, it is revealed that Masie is not Lockwood’s granddaughter, but a clone of his daughter and that is what pushed him and Hammond apart.
Blue goes and saves Masie from Indoraptor, like a guard dog or superhero. I don’t know, Blue is basically the hero as he only kills the bad guys. In the ensuing epic battle on the roof, Blue and the Indoraptor fight in a free fall until the latter falls through the glass ceiling and gets impaled on a Triceratops fossil. A pretty metal way to end. Poisonous gas however has been leaked into the dinosaur cages. Claire hesitates to save them. But, Masie the real hero of the movie presses the buttons letting the dinosaurs roam free. In the ensuing stampede Eli is killed by a Tyrannosaurus and Carnotaurus in a scene eerily similar to Eddie’s death in Lost World.
The film ends with Dr. Malcom once again giving us a movie quote.
Ian Malcolm: How many times do you have to see the evidence? How many times must the point be made? We're causing our own extinction. Too many red lines have been crossed. And our home has, in fundamental ways, been polluted by avarice and political megalomania. Genetic power has now been unleashed and of course, that's going to be catastrophic. This change was inevitable from the moment we brought the first dinosaur back from extinction. We convince ourselves that sudden change is something that happens outside the normal order of things, like a car crash, or that it's beyond our control, like a fatal illness. We don't conceive of sudden, radical, irrational change as woven into the very fabric of existence. Yet, I can assure you, it most assuredly is. And it's happening now. Humans and dinosaurs are now gonna be force to coexist. These creatures were here before us. And if we're not careful, they're gonna be here after. We're gonna have to adjust to new threat that we can't imagine. We've entered a new era. Welcome to Jurassic World.
This movie is a train wreck. It doesn’t know if it wants to stay on the island or be a super hero movie. Claire’s sudden change of character makes no sense and her and Owen accomplish little except for be our eyes and ears of the film. Which, I kind of like them better that way, but still the two characters are boring and not well written. Its said when Masie and Blue, and even the damned Stygimolich are more proactive than our two supposed protagonists. Should have just had Masie and Blue as the main characters and let out those two and given more time to those characters.
There are a few scenes that are done really well. The scene of the Brachiosaurus at the docks, is very sad and probably the best scene in the movie. And, despite it being shot like a Spiderman movie the end fight featuring Blue and Indoraptor is at least enjoyable, although I did face palm during the whole scene. Also I chuckled at whenever the Stygiomolich was on screen, it was both cute and ridiculous. This movie really decided to go into absurdity like a Showa Godzilla flick and when it did I actually enjoyed it more. Just take out all the serious saving dinosaurs and go all shlock and maybe you might find something enjoyable about this film. Its not a good Jurassic Park film, but it is still in its own way sometimes very entertaining. The sum of it’s parts are greater than the whole movie. It is more enjoyable than Jurassic World at it’s best, but at its worse it is pretty forgettable and plagued with an unfocused script.
Don’t worry I already have a theme for October, it’s going to be spooky.
Pacific Rim was deemed a commercial failure at launch. Despite this, the film introduced a whole generation to kaiju films, and giant robots. Despite its commercial failure in the US, it did okay in Japan and did well in China. It was only a matter of time before it got a sequel. Originally, Del Toro was still attached to the project and there were rumors it would in fact be a prequel staring Idris Elba. But, for whatever reason this didn’t happen. Del Toro became producer and was no longer the director of the project and with him gone went the magic of the first film. Pacific Rim Uprising was a direct sequel to the first film with a few recurring characters and similar plot, the only ties to the Del Toro original, and as we are about to see, there are good and bad things about the change.
Pacific Rim Uprising takes place about a decade after the kaiju were defeated in the first film. The world has changed, and we are introduced to Jake Pentecost the son of Stacker Pentecost, who makes his living as a thief. There is no better way to make money than to steal jaeger parts. In this new post-kaiju world, people build their own jaegers through junk and we get a sort of slightly future urban dystopia feel. Although, one that has somewhat healed from the kaiju invasions, less than a decade ago.
The film begins like the first one. Jake is our protagonist and like Raleigh Becket in the first film, he has done some deeds in his past and he runs from it. He is then recruited to become a pilot again, although in this film Stacker’s role is replaced by Mako, who is Jake’s adopted sister. His female ally is Amara Amari who is a scrappy engineer who managed to build her own mini jaeger called ‘Scrapper’. The two of them get arrested after trying to steal a jaeger core. Mako gets them out of prison but are then recruited to become jaeger pilots. Pentacost becomes a marshal while Amari is to go through training.
We are introduced to a group of diverse recruits, but in all honesty, they are not important so I’m not even going to describe them. The film only focuses on our two protagonists and their foe, computerization and drones. Yes, apparently, we don’t need the gimmicky two pilots in a jaeger anymore when we can just send drones out to the field. Why, this wasn’t a thing in the first film is beyond me. A short summary is one of the drones goes AWOL and we are slowly given a mystery.
The mystery makes you think that Shao Industries the maker of the drones are the evil masterminds. Shao herself seems overconfident and cocky. But, in fact the plot twist is that Dr. Newton Geiszler who has been manipulated by the Precursers is the main antagonist. It’s such an anime trope, and one that brings an interesting twist to the plot.
Geiszler hacks the drones which have kaiju parts in them, the drones then open rifts in the Pacific and let three kaiju into our world. Shao and Gottlieb manage to shut down the drones, but those three pesky kaiju are heading towards Mt. Fuji. Another anime plot is that the kaiju want to go to Mt. Fuji to cause a chain reaction to open a seismic event to terraform the planet for the Precursers. They do this as it is found out that kaiju blood is highly reactive. Gottlieb wanted to use this knowledge to crate jetback thrusters on the jaegers for deployment. Geiszler uses this same plan to make the world ready for the Precursers and kaiju and destroying life on earth in the process.
The kaiju are pushed back, but not defeated. In another interesting moment, Geiszler uses some of the smaller drones to merge with the three kaiju creating a super kaiju. Yes, this is a thing, and it is awesome. The super kaiju ends up defeating the other jaegers one by one. Even, injuring Jake’s copilot forcing a deus ex machina moment where Amara and Jake become co-pilots to take down the kaiju. Eventually, they pilot Gyspy Avenger to explode and destroy the kaiju, and are saved by Shao who is automatically controlling Scrapper via drone tech. The kaiju is defeated, and the day is saved. But, not before a warning that the Precursers will continue. But, Jake assures us that there is room for a third film by stating, “Next time, the Precursers won’t have to come here, because we will be bringing the fight to them.”
This film has great action and is like a live action anime. It has a lot of charm despite it cutting a lot of the more enjoyable parts of the first film. The banter between Jake and Amara is golden, and they are the obvious focus of the film. I feel their friendship is better constructed to whatever type of partnership Mako and Raleigh had. Instead of kaiju fights, we have robot on robot action which is a nice change of pace. Mako is still as charming in this film, but let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
The worse thing this film does is not only does it kill Mako the spirit of the film. It does it in the most meaningless way. Yes, her death was important for the plot. But, it was a plot death and all it did was cut off the remaining ties to the first film. Mako was a great character in this film and killing her off as a basal casualty was a wrong choice. If she died as a sacrifice it would had been more meaningful. Other reviews have talked about this fact, and it is a major complaint.
Neither Jake nor Amara have that heart and soul that Mako brought to the first film. They are not bad characters by any means, but they lack the heart and admiration and relatability that Mako had in the first film. This is probably the film’s worst flaw.
So, despite this, I loved this film. It is cheesy monster fun. Nothing less but lacks the heart of the original. The touches of Del Toro are gone, but it has a cheesier charm like a mecha anime or Power Rangers. If the first Pacific Rim was more like Evangelion, than Uprising is more like Gurren Lagann.
Heart of Metal, 10,000 Tons of Fun
In today’s blog post I’m revisiting a movie that I love. Pacific Rim. It’s a kaiju film directed by one of my favorite directors, Guillermo del Toro. It’s a crazy mix of giant robots and monsters which happen to be some of my favorite genres. Released before Legendary’s Godzilla and Shin Gojira a few years later, Pacific Rim healed that open would of no kaiju films since Godzilla Final Wars and Cloverfield.
Pacific Rim is a fun filled monster fest of anime, mecha, and kaiju films. A fantastic ride that I fell in love with first watch and have re-watched it many times since. Let’s examine this film and understand why it is so beloved by its fans and not understood by its critics.
“To fight monsters, we built monsters!”
We begin our movie with info dump via our narrator, the main character in this action flick, Raleigh Becket. Raleigh is a jaeger pilot, and a bit of a rebel. He and his brother pilot a giant robot called Gipsy Danger fighting invading aliens known as kaiju. These kaiju come from a breach in the Pacific Rim, heh get it? The pilots drift minds to control the giant robots. It’s already Saturday morning and we have one of the coolest concepts in the film. It’s not original, but quite interesting as a plot device as we shall see later.
During a routine kaiju assault, Raleigh and his brother Yancy save a boat off the coast of Alaska. Unfortunately, the kaiju coined as Knifehead rips out his brother leaving Raleigh by himself. It is a difficult task to pilot a jaeger on your own, but our hero saves the day and does the impossible, killing the kaiju at the last minute. The last time we see Raleigh is when Gipsy Danger falls on an Alaska beach.
Flash forward a few years, it seems that kaiju keep coming through the breech and are destroying the jaegers faster than the planet can pull its resources to stop them. To compensate, the world governments plan to build a giant wall. The movie thought of the idea before Trump did. And, guess what the wall doesn’t work, a kaiju makes quick work of the wall and is stopped by an Australian jaeger called Striker Eureka.
Speaking of that wall, it seems Raleigh has been building the wall along the US coast. His commanding officer, Stacker Pentacost arrives to recruit him. Apparently, Raleigh still had a part of his brother’s brain in his mind when he died. Not to mention, he doesn’t want anyone else to go through what he did. But, for whatever reason he returns with Pentacost.
It is here that we meet Mako Mori, a Japanese orphan whom Pentacost has adopted. She shows Raleigh around and introduces him to his old jaeger, Gipsy Danger. There are only four jaegers left and they have one more mission. Reach the breach that the kaiju come from and plug it with an atomic bomb.
We are also introduced to Dr. Netton Geiszler and Gottlieb two researchers who are completely different from each other. Gottlieb is a nerdy academic while Geiszler is a kaiju groupie meaning he loves kaiju. He is quite eccentric as we will see later on.
Mako and Raleigh seem to not like each other at first with Mako chastising him for being reckless. But, soon, we see that none of the recruits that Mako brought are up to standards. The two get into a fight, and eventually Mako and Raleigh show they are drift compatible. It is kind of pushed that way, and rushed, but it gets the show running.
Pentacost allows for Mako to test a drift with Raleigh. At first everything goes fine, but because we need drama problems occur. It begins with Raleigh’s PTSD triggers from losing his brother, remember he has a part of him in his brain. This gets the two of them out of sync. Mako who has never done this before, because Pentacost views she is a liability, gets lost in the drift. We see Mako’s past, and there is a lot of character development. Mako, however loses control and almost kills everyone. She gets blamed, well to be fair both get blamed, but really Raleigh and Pentacost are to blame for different reasons. Mako just gets caught in the cross fire. A fight breaks out and Pentacost puts the two of them off duty.
Meanwhile, Geiszler decides to drift with a kaiju brain, what a genius. We find they have a hive mind, more on that later. This triggers two waves of kaiju, which Gottlieb had predicted earlier. The two kaiju fight three out of four of the jaegers. Two of these jaegers are destroyed quite quickly, and disappointingly I might add.
"Today, we are canceling the apocalypse"
To add insult to injury, Striker Eureka the big shot and latest cutting edge of the jaegers gets disabled due to a kaiju with magical E.M.P abilities. While another kaiju goes after Geiszler who knows their secrets. Geiszler had went into Hong Kong to go find a guy named Hannibal Choi as the former needs a full kaiju brain so he can get more information from the kaiju’s hive mind. Once, Hannibal finds out he shoos him away, as it is revealed that Hannibal also mind-melded with a kaiju, once.
With Gipsy Danger the only one left, our two leads pilot her successfully this time. The gorilla like kaiju falls easily by plasma shotgun blasts the size of airplanes. The other beast who was looking for Geiszler shows it can fly. The kaiju tries to take Gipsy Danger into the sky but is destroyed thanks to Mako giving Gipsy Danger a sword. She has killed a kaiju and has completed her character arc. The only one in the film.
After the fight, Geiszler gets a hold of a kaiju brain. Him and Gottlieb mind meld with the kaiju. Meanwhile, Pentacost pilots Striker Eureka and along with Gipsy Danger the two go to close the breach. Geiszler and Gottlief have found out that they need a living kaiju to pass through. The two jaegers are ambushed by three kaiju, one of which is an upgraded version of Knifehead fought at the beginning. The fights are at the bottom of the sea floor and unfortunately, Striker Eureka sacrifices itself. Gipsy Danger takes a corpse and goes towards the portal but is stopped by the upgraded kaiju. So, instead Mako and Raleigh light up the ocean floor and use that kaiju instead. They send the nuke, but in the last-ditch effort, Raleigh sends Mako with all of his oxygen, saving her life. Don’t worry, because this is a movie, he survives through space and time and somehow makes it out alive. The world is safe now, and our heroes can do whatever they did before the kaiju attacked humanity.
This movie is awesome, as it is action packed and filled the itch of kaiju films. The designs of the kaiju and jaegers are awesome, both unique and interesting. The size of everything is immense, bigger is better in this film. Many of the scenes are beautiful, both the fight choreography and the foreshadowing. A good scene is before the flying kaiju revealed it had wings, there was a scene when it made land fall from the sea where parts of its legs/arms folded like wings.
The plot is not amazing, but it works for a monster movie. The characters are all interesting and many of them of them border on eccentric, but except for Mako they don’t have arcs. Raleigh seems to have been the token narrator and we see the world and events through his eyes, but I don’t find him compelling. If he was the war-torn soldier, he should had been the secondary/supporting character. If Mako was the main character I would had been more invested. After her character arc reaches its climax, she doesn’t really do anything, and its sad. I feel that hurts her character in the long run. Mako is the heart and soul of the movie. The focus should had been on her.
Besides that, I would had liked to see more jaegers in combat with kaiju for a bit longer. The other robots like Crimson Typhon and Cherno Alpha didn’t get enough screen time and were just fodder for the kaiju, whom Gipsy Danger made quick work of. But, as we will see next week, maybe dial it down a bit.
We finish our Jurassic Park review series with not the latest in the franchise of films. I will watch that and review it later, but with the most recent video game based on the property, Jurassic World: Evolution. Where you can live up to John Hammond’s dreams and literally spare no expense in the creation of a dinosaur park of your dreams.
Now fair warning, a lot of people tried to hype this game up as a spiritual sequel to Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, one of the best park building games of all times. Although, there are similarities, we are going into this review that this game is its own game, not building up to the hype of nor trying to reach the heights of Operation Genesis.
Evolution is a 2018 park building simulation developed by Frontier Developments, who have worked on Planet Coaster and many others. The game is loosely based on the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World. In the game you are constructing dinosaur amusement parks on the Cinca de Meurtes or the Five Deaths as they are known in the Jurassic Park universe. Your sites will be the successor of both the original Jurassic Park as well as it’s unfortunate successor, Jurassic World.
Your goals are to create the parks and researching both new dinosaurs and fitting your parks with attractions to achieve a five-star rating. For example, the first Island, Isla Matanceros will reward you with the sand box mode of Isla Nublar if you score five stars on it. More on that later. The five islands are Isla Matanceros, Isla Muerta, Isla Tacano, Isla Pena and of course Isla Sorna. The game features Jeff Goldblum voicing Ian Malcom as your guide through the parks. He is the voice of reason and skeptical of the three branches within the park.
The game features three interesting branches of play, Security, Entertainment and Science all led by colorful casts of characters. Beyond just giving you access to different dinosaurs, buildings, and genes. These three characters introduce the plot of the game. Yes, there is a plot. Although, it is loosely tied to the films, and unfortunately is does not a have a true ending. This is either showing that Frontier will be working on more DLC or perhaps something else will be released later. It is sad, because there is a lot of build up with not a true ending where anything you did really matters. The plot is pretty much just padding, and although interesting the branches of play only really become annoying rather than helpful.
The problem with the three division branches comes in the form of sabotage. If you are too nice with one of the branches and not enough with the others, then the ones with no loyalty to you will begin to sabotage your park. This can be anything simple like opening your gates to getting you dinosaurs sick. Even worse they can shut down the power in your mark, which forces you to manually boot up the power in a jeep. In early game it can be frustrating, but I feel it does give a game a challenge occasionally. It’s a good system in theory, but as you will see a lot of this game is better in theory than in practice.
The AI is terrible, the terrain manipulator tools are limited and dammit we don’t have enough space. They keep adding dinosaurs to the game, so it is near impossible to make a park with all the dinosaurs. It is possible to put all the dinosaurs on Nublar, but they are fit in boxes. It’s a limited system. I think the game should have been in development a bit longer, hopefully Frontier can give this game the things it needs for the gameplay to truly shine.
But, when the game works, it really works. I tend to be so good at planning out my park that I don’t have dinosaurs break out much anymore. There are occasionally problems, but once you unlock all the genes, and know how to keep your dinosaurs and god forbid your guests happy then the game becomes a rather humbling experience. It is also a game I can just go and chill for a while, venting my frustration on dinosaurs who escape from captivity.
The bare bones of the gameplay and many of the decisions don’t make sense, and it seemed rushed. When the gameplay mechanics come together it is a rewarding experience. The AI just needs fixed, the terrain tools need to be increased and the size of Nublar and Sorna needs to be increased. Those three fixes would make the gameplay much more rememberable.
The game is beautiful. I don’t think I have said it enough. There is a limited amount of textures for grasses, trees, water and dinosaurs. But, all of it still looks pretty despite these limitations. It seems Frontier put all their money into making the game look shiny and shafted the gameplay. The graphics are the only thing that doesn’t seemed rushed.
Some of the music from the films are used, most of it is interesting that has a JPark feel. But, nothing really of note so I tend to listen to my own music.
In summary, Jurassic World: Evolution is a game that has a lot of potential. It is beautiful game, but it has some flaws in its execution. The AI, both the guests and the dinosaurs need retooled. The islands need better editing tools for terrain and at least Nublar needs to become an actual sandbox with more room. Especially if they are going to add more dinosaurs.
The graphics are pretty, but the animations are lacking, and in general we need more dinosaurs and the game should feel more like a zoo tycoon than a disaster movie. If you chose to make dinosaurs more aggressive and break out, that is all on you. The good thing with great park building games is it lets us choose, and we don’t get a lot of freedom in this game. Instead, we are given a limited and rushed game that could had been much more.
If you enjoy Jurassic Park/World then this might be something to pick up and play. if you like park building simulators or want a successor to Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis prepare to be disappointed. I still really enjoy the game and will on and off have an idea for a new park, now and then. It has it's flaws ,but despite that I still love the game.