Movie Mechanic: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

Make: Universal Pictures

Model: Sci-fi Action/Adventure

Year: 2018

What makes nature dangerous, and what made dinosaurs dangerous, is that nature does not distinguish between good people and bad people. There is no morality in nature other than the law of the jungle. And yet, Fallen Kingdom wants us to believe that there are good dinosaurs and bad dinosaurs, and that the good dinosaurs can distinguish between good and bad people. If you’re a good person, you won’t die. This premise is inconsistent with reality, it’s inconsistent with the law of the jungle, and it’s inconsistent with previous Jurassic Park movies. Once you realize that the dinosaurs won’t eat good people, all the peril, and credibility, are gone. The purpose of this rebuild is to bring back consistency, credibility and peril. Along the way, we may even iron out some cliches.

What works: Unfortunately, not much, unless you like dinosaur booger gags because there are dozens of those. The volcano island is also a great device, but it only features in the first act.

What doesn’t work: Theme. Fallen Kingdom thematically contradicts the themes of the original Jurassic Park (“life, uh, finds a way”), as well as Jurassic World (“you need to respect these animals”). In Fallen Kingdom, Ian Malcolm says that the dinosaurs need to be allowed to die. Owen Grady comes at Blue with nothing but a clicker and some jerky, AND IT WORKS! The worst example, though, is the nerdy kid, Franklin, never gets eaten. He is funny and entertaining, but he is not at all equipped for dinosaur encounters, and yet he survives half a dozen very close calls with history’s deadliest predators.

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Story. The story is so full of holes. Owen Grady is the guy full of grit who respects what dinosaurs can do, but in Fallen Kingdom, he shirks his bond to Blue until Claire calls him out. And Claire, the bleeding heart environmentalist, goes to the island to save dinosaurs, but ends up killing most of them because they are a threat.

But there is also enough crammed into the runtime to make 3 separate movies. There’s saving the dinosaurs from the volcano island. Then, the evil capitalists just want to sell dinos to make a quick buck by weaponizing them, whatever that means. And, oh yes, there’s a human clone who lets all the dinosaurs out. And then the dinosaurs roam the deserts of Southern California. And the dinosaurs adopt and embody human morality.

For this rebuild, we are going to focus on a smaller storyline, but flesh it out completely, so that it stays thematically consistent, both within its own runtime, and with the film series’ overarching themes. We’re going to keep the characters’ arcs flowing from Jurassic World, and give them somewhere to go, so that they don’t have to retread character development or act in ways inconsistent with their established personas.

REBUILD

In our version of Fallen Kingdom, we’ll focus on the volcano eruption. As the movie opens, a small team of poacher scouts is trying to bag some dinosaurs at night. They talk about how much money they could get for even a small dinosaur. Of course, half of the team is eaten. The other half escapes in a helicopter but as they fly over the volcano, it spits out a red hot rock into the helicopter. So, now we’ve established the three dangers of the island, poachers, dinosaurs, and an active volcano.

Dr. Ian Malcolm sits at home, reading the paper. “Jurassic World Volcano Threat.” “Chaos,” he mutters. He takes a sip of his drink, and answers the phone. “I saw.”

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Claire is on the other end of the line. “Then you know we need to save them,” she says. “Life is so much stronger than we know,” Malcolm replies. “It finds it’s way, with or without human intervention. Life changes. It adapts. There’s nothing you or I can do to change it’s course. My advice, stop and watch how it makes it out of this disaster. You’ll see.”

Claire hangs up. Her friend and medical colleague, Zia Rodriguez, suggests contacting her old boyfriend, Owen Grady. Claire admits that she hasn’t talked to him in a long time. They stopped talking a few weeks ago, and Claire doesn’t even know where he is. Zia points out that they need to get to the island before there is no island left, and if Owen isn’t around, they need to find another way to the island. Zia says she knows a guy who may be able to help.

Enter Franklin Webb. A tech whiz and hacker type, he has contacts with some “exotic game managers” heading to the island. They may be able to get them passage to the island, but they should watch their step around these people. Poachers are dangerous people. They also need money. Lots of money. Franklin promises to get passage to the island, but it is up to Claire to get the money. Claire reaches out to her old boss’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood.

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Lockwood is an old man. He was never much interested in dinosaurs. He was more interested in the genetic engineering technology that created them. But, if Claire is willing to bring back the Jurassic World gene-sequencing software, he’ll find their expedition to the island. He warns her that Claire was not the first person to ask for his money. There may be other poachers headed to the island.

With funding secured, Claire, Zia and Franklin head to a small, remote airport to meet with Ken Wheatley, a poacher heading to the island for yet another dinosaur. “I’m bringing home a big one this time,” he says as he slaps the side of a large cargo plane. Claire and Zia exchange a concerned glance before boarding the plane. As they fly over the ocean, Wheatley points out the smoke from the volcano as they approach the island. “It could blow any day.” They find a place to land, but the plane gets swarmed by pterosaurs and has to make an emergency landing.

Now on the island, Claire and company make their way to a system interface so they can find the dinosaurs they want to save, while Ken Wheatley hunts a big dinosaur. Claire has Franklin download a copy of the gene-sequencer. While they’re in the office, the volcano rumbles. Outside, Ken feels the rumble, too, and watches as a herd of large herbivores stampede toward him. The largest dinosaur in the herd barrels down on Wheatley, who reaches into his belt and pulls out a tranq gun and shoots the dinosaur in the face. The dinosaur trips and skids to stop in front of Wheatley. Claire meets him outside and asks if he is satisfied with his catch. He says it’s not a catch, it’s just the bait for the real catch.

Zia asks Claire how she intends to save the dinosaurs. She confesses that she doesn’t know. She is really there for just one dinosaur, Blue, the loyal raptor that saved her life. She figures if she can find Blue, Owen will resurface and the two of them can find a way to save the dinosaurs. The group hunkers down for the night in the office.

Claire awakens in the middle of the night to the sound of rumbling. It sounds like the volcano at first, but then the rumble repeats. She sits up straight and finds a window. A T-rex bends down to eat the bait and its eye comes up level with the window. Franklin also wakes up to see Claire and the T-rex. He screams briefly, and then quickly covers his mouth with both hands. Wheatley tries to spring a trap on the T-rex, but he fails to lock it down and ends up angering the T-rex and it knocks down the office. Now the team is on the run from the T-rex, and poor Franklin cannot keep up. The T-rex chomps him. He was a good guy, but dinos don’t care if you’re a good guy. As Claire and Zia stop to look at the carnage, Wheatley abandons them. Claire and Zia find some cover in the jungle while the T-rex closes in. Suddenly, a pair of green dinosaur eyes and a set of sharp teeth are revealed by the moonlight in the jungle. Zia sees the dinosaur approaching in the dark, and draws Claire’s attention. She looks up and sees the characteristic blue streak along its face. “Blue?” She hears Owen’s clicker, and Blue jumps out and races past Claire and runs right through the T-rex’s legs. Owen darts out of the brush and grabs Claire and Zia.

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He leads them to safety in a bunker where he has been hanging out with Blue for the last few weeks. It smells bad because Blue is not housebroken. “Are you sure it’s Blue that’s not housebroken?” Claire snaps. She’s mad he didn’t tell her he was coming to the island. He says if he told her, she would have wanted to come, and the island just isn’t safe. “How did you even get here?” She demands. Owen explains that he hired a guy named Wheatley, who tried to kidnap Blue, and then marooned him when he wouldn’t help. But, Owen has a plan. There’s a ship. It has room for about 12 dinosaurs, so they can get some off the island. There is a preserve on the mainland where they can roam free. They just need to round up some dinosaurs, figure out how to navigate the ship and get to the mainland, all while avoiding the poachers and carnivores and before the volcano erupts.

And so it goes. They gather tranquilizers, fight with poachers, dodge T-rex, and find the ship. Poachers get eaten because poachers don’t respect nature. The volcano starts to blow. They get on the ship, but there are more dinos that want to get on. Claire tries to let them on, but Wheatley gets on instead. He shoots Owen, which puts Blue on alert. Claire and Zia run for the bridge. Wheatley goes after them. Owen releases Blue and then the two of them go after Wheatley. Meanwhile, the volcano erupts explosively sending rock and ash into the sky and sea. The ship starts taking damage from the eruption. Their chances of getting to the mainland are getting slimmer the more damage they take. Claire and Zia don’t make it to the bridge before Wheatley catches up with them. As he’s getting ready to shoot, the ship gets hit and he misses. He almost falls to the cargo hold where the dinosaurs are. He regains his balance, but Owen appears and knocks him to the cargo hold, where his leg gets trampled and broken. He scrambles for his gun, which is in the largest cage. “The big one.” He reaches between the bars, and the T-rex appears and chomps him.

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The ship gets clear of the island, but it’s too damaged and starts to sink. They have enough time to get to a nearby island and release the dinosaurs. There’s no trace of Jurassic Park or Jurassic World. It’s just raw land. It’s perfect for the dozen dinosaurs they managed to rescue. As the dinosaurs unload, they realize there are many other dinosaurs already on the island. “Life finds a way,” Claire says.

After a couple weeks, Owen decides he’s going to stay, Claire wants to stay, and Zia wants to go home. Claire hands her the gene-sequencer to take to Lockwood. A helicopter comes and gets Zia. Blue watches the helicopter take off. The sun sets. Roll credits.

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Mid credits, Zia delivers the gene-sequencer to Lockwood. There’s a picture of his daughter there on his table.

WRAP UP

This is really just an expansion of the opening act of the movie. Unlike the original, though, the characters continue their story arc and development from the first movie. The dinosaurs act like dinosaurs, except Blue, who is also continuing its story arc toward domestication. It’s just a lot more consistent with Jurassic World and Jurassic Park, and it’s much lighter on the booger gags.

Film Title: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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