Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
As I’ve already pointed out, Bayona was heavily influenced by Spielberg, not just for this movie but in his whole career. But for Fallen Kingdom, he was obviously interested in the first two Jurassic movies, as well as the aforementioned Bridge of Spies, plus all the Indiana Jones movies.
In the previously linked Den of Geek interview, Bayona acknowledges the references to and influence of Raiders of the Lost Ark, particularly the comedy, the slight infusion of slapstick, in that classic adventure movie (not to mention the scene of Chris Pratt running from the volcano and dinos looking like Indy running down the hill in the Raiders opening). And he admitted to us that he watched all the Indiana Jones movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in preparation. From our interview, in which Matthew Monagle points to another obvious homage:
Bayona doesn’t limit his callbacks to just Jurassic Park, though. In one memorable scene where an auction and an escape are occurring simultaneously, Bayona draws on the library sequence from ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ and cuts quickly between gavel and Pachycephalosaurus. In doing research for ‘Fallen Kingdom,’ Bayona shares that he watched “all of the ‘Jurassic’ movies” and “a lot of ‘Indiana Jones’” in a conscious effort to ingest Spielberg’s visual style.
“It made a lot of sense that I like being under the influence of Steven Spielberg because you’re trying to pay tribute to the legacy of these movies.” Spielberg’s influence also helped Bayona manage the elements of blockbuster and horror both contained in the film, what he describes as the combination of “fun and entertainment and interesting ideas.”
12 Monkeys (1995)
Every time I saw Ted Levine and his pliers extracting dinosaur teeth (or trying to) in Fallen Kingdom, a favorite line from 12 Monkeys popped into my head: “I was attacked by… a fuckin’ crazy dentist!” Yeah, I admit that’s just a personal memory that has no real logical pertinence to recommending the movie to you.
Fortunately, the Terry Gilliam-helmed, La Jetee-inspire sci-fi thriller also deals with an organization supporting the rights of animals, and they similarly free a bunch of animals that are in captivity, and at the end of the movie (and also earlier in a future scene) we see a number of them running loose around Philadelphia. The shots of the T.rex roaring at the lion and the velociraptor roaming the desert reminded me of 12 Monkeys even further.
A lot of the volcano section, while thrilling in its context of how the reality of this movie universe operates, is admittedly very silly. Owen and Claire and their nerdy young friends would have been obliterated in so many different ways, whether from combusting for their vicinity to lava or their being engulfed by deadly smoke, gas, and lava-hot particles or their escape into the sea off an extremely high cliff.Ignore that sort of thing, as you should, and it’s very entertaining.
If you want real volcano stuff, watch Werner Herzog’s trio of La Soufriere, Encounters at the End of the World, and Into the Inferno. If you like silly and implausible volcano stuff, find a movie more ridiculous than Fallen Kingdom but also still entertaining in Volcano. It’s Tommy Lee Jones dealing with a sudden volcano underneath Los Angeles, stemming from the dino-related La Brea tar pits! The ending is as groan-worthy as they come. Otherwise, it’s a lot of dumb fun.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
There’s something very refreshingly apocalyptic about the ending of Fallen Kingdom, similar to the endings of 12 Monkeys and also Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Maybe it’s the fact that the end of the world is understood to be inevitable in the story. Maybe it’s the fact that the animals that are seen loose in the end frankly deserve the planet more than humans do. Personally, I’m rooting for the dinos to win the world in the next movie, just as the apes do in the sequel to this superbly directed rebooted franchise starter.
Back to Ted Levine’s dental deeds, man is he stupid for going in the Indoraptor cage. We haven’t seen a character do something that dumb since we saw those guys all curious about the black goo and weird space snake thing in Prometheus. Coincidentally (?), one of those guys is played by Rafe Spall, who now appears in Fallen Kingdom as another one of the misguided asshole human villains. Like Fallen Kingdom, this Alien prequel is really great and deserves a better legacy than it seems to have lately (at least its reviews were better).
Finally, we come to this week’s documentary recommendation. Trophy is a film that many people just won’t watch. I respect that. There are some gruesome shots of dead animals, some of them massacred by poachers and others killed by game hunters. Sometimes you have to see horrible images to let them affect you. Sometimes it’s also important to hear things you don’t want to hear, like the suggestion that game hunting is good for wildlife conservation.
Trophy is a documentary that shows both sides of the coin and asks for full empathy, not agreement or favor or sympathy. It also requests you come with a completely open mind. Empathy and openmindedness never require you to accept or believe in what’s being presented on screen in a film like this. You’re very likely to leave with the same idea on the subject as you had going in. That’s fine. At least you respectfully looked and listened.
Fallen Kingdom has some interesting ideas about cloned dinosaurs and whether they’re worthy of rescue or should be left for dead or if they’re only here as entertainment or for us to kill or have rights or whatever. Many critics of the movie are hating on the fact that the dinos are just let out at the end, to kill innocent people. Yeah, well, that is something considered and ultimately rejected as what to do by the main characters. Then another thinks differently. It’s not an easy answer, what these creatures were entitled to.