starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Jeff Goldblum
screenplay by Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow
directed by J.A. Bayona
by Walter Chaw The first time I remember seeing the news crawl at the bottom of a TV screen used as a satirical device in a film was in Jonathan Demme's still-exceptional, suddenly-current remake of The Manchurian Candidate. In Spanish director J.A. Bayona's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (hereafter Fallen Kingdom), after a grim opening sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the film, a news ticker declares that the "U.S. President" questions the existence of dinosaurs in the first place. It's a well-placed barb in the flank of the white evangelical monster that's swallowed the United States in a dystopia founded on equal parts massive ignorance and fear of an angry white god--one that has installed a demented con-man, and possibly the worst human being in a country teeming with bad human beings, as its golden calf. Hidden away in this pricey fifth instalment of a billion-dollar franchise is a Spanish Gothic fairytale of the titular "fallen kingdom"--the United States, n'est-ce pas?--that owes a lot more to Bayona's debut The Orphanage than to any of the previous films in the Jurassic series. It plays like Cronos, and it serves the same immediate function as George Romero's Day of the Dead, up to porting over the "Bub" subplot on the back of a sentient dino named "Blue." Where its immediate predecessor was a misogynistic funhouse paced to the story/action structure of a porno, Fallen Kingdom is stately to the point of reserved; immensely weird; and overtly critical of the current state of affairs. I'm not sure it's a good dinosaur movie, but it's an angry, swollen-red metaphor. All things being equal, I guess I'll take angry.