I had the displeasure of seeing Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom last week. I fully admit I saw it merely because the northeast was in the midst of a harsh heatwave that meant the AC in the house needed some alone time. So I went to the theater and chose Fallen Kingdom. Mistake number one. Mistake number two? Thinking I could turn all parts of my brain, save pulmonary functions, in order to watch the newest installment of the din-franchise as mindless entertainment. Yeah, that lasted about three or four minutes. Almost immediately I found basic flaws not only in the plot and character motivation, but some pretty unimaginative film making. What pushed me to the brink and ultimately grumbling out of the theater, was the immensely flawed moral and ethical decision making by the characters. When there was ethical decisions. In a way, the film wants to be an indictment of neo-liberal economics. However, the fact the movie was made at all, on the heels of a bad predecessor, with every indication the producers will keep dino-ing into the future, the film itself was a gross example of neo-liberal economics. Truly, the only ethical strand fully articulated in Fallen Kingdom were those of the greedy badguys. Their motivations and propulsive force within the film was clear. What moved the heroes of the film? Well it depends where and when you were asked? I don’t mean evolution of beliefs, that’s logical, instead the characters wavered back-and-forth between positions that suggested ethics but were nothing more than a poor screenplay piecemealed together, like the dinosaurs themselves, to create the illusion of drama. Time and again the film chose increasingly stupid choices for its characters. Doorways were ignored. Sprinklers magically didn’t exist, and the nature of nature was patently dismissed. The climax of the film, for me and the moment I walked out, came in two parts. First was Bryce Dallas-Howard’s articulation that dinosaurs were still a myth to her even though there were fossils and evidence. They only became “real” when you could seem them perambulating on some exclusive island. This is bizarrely anti-science. That single line encapsulated the problem with the new crop of Jurassic Park films- they are pseudo-science-creationism. The final straw was a chance at a moral play, akin to a black-box-theater, where the leads could have debated the fate of the dinosaurs with the ticking-timebomb backdrop. Instead, the decision whether the dinosaurs should live or die was made through turned backs, and an atrocious plot-device regarding cloning. The film pretends to be something its not. It is a not an indictment of neo-liberalism, it embodies neo-liberalism’s worse elements. It is not science meddling in nature, it uses the “logic” of Creationism to create disbelief or wonder. And finally, the film fails by spectacularly ignoring the concept of utilitarianism- the right or best action is the one that promotes the most utility or happiness in a group. Rather than looking at the giant beasts, panicked and dying, placed in a world which they no longer belonged, a character made a decision based on them and them alone. It was the inverse of utilitarian thinking. What magnified the final decision was the collection of dinosaurs, who through five movies demonstrated their destructive and deadly power, were viewed as benign…including rapacious carnivores. Yes, there wasn’t a strange moral debate over veggie-saurus vs meat-eaters. Instead the dinosaurs of every shape and size, benign and deadly, were released in a selfish act that forsakes the rest of the world. Maybe this could be a view of who or what could or should be called an invasive species?
But…nah…its about CG dinosaurs and cheap thrills.
Then again, it’s just a movie.