Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review: The Jurassic Park sequel that I have been waiting 25 years for.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom picks up three years after the rise and fall of the Jurassic World theme park on the island of Isla Nublar. The once popular tourist attraction is now defunct, but the dinosaurs continue to roam the island. When the news breaks of a potential volcanic eruption that could kill all of the dinosaurs, animal activists groups begin to take a stand to save the dinosaurs from extinction. One of the organizations behind this movement is the Dinosaur Protection Group lead by former Jurassic World operations chief, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). As the government refuses to help, Claire receives a call from Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) about Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a former business partner of John Hammond, wanting to help her save the dinosaurs. Lockwood agrees to help and assigns a team to assist Clarie and her ex-boyfriend Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in bringing the dinosaurs back to his sanctuary in Northern California.
When I saw Jurassic Park for the first time as an 11-year old boy, my view of movies changed. As a child, I grew up with a massive love of dinosaurs and remember being obsessed with them throughout my childhood. I loved reading books about dinosaurs, I loved going to museums to see the dinosaur exhibits, and I spent a lot of my free time playing with my dinosaur figurines. Seeing Jurassic Park on the big screen opened my imagination in ways that I never knew were possible.
Jurassic Park was the first time that I was in awe of a creature coming to life on the big screen. I grew up watching the original Godzilla movies, but I always knew those were fake and that Godzilla was just some guy in a costume. However, when watching the T-Rex run after a Jeep in the original film, that was unlike anything that I had ever seen before. It looked real and felt real. When Jurassic Park came out on VHS, I watched it over and over again. It was a film that genuinely sparked my imagination in ways that no other Blockbuster film had before.
As a fanboy of Jurassic Park, I was always excited for the next entry in the franchise. I begged my parents to take me to see The Lost World: Jurassic Park, I remember seeing Jurassic Park 3 at AMC Century City here in LA, when I was on vacation, and I saw Jurassic World at a press screening here in LA. I went into all three of these sequels hoping that they would have a similar effect on me that the original film had but that never happened. I always walked out of the sequels disappointed even though I somewhat enjoyed all of them for different reasons.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the first Jurassic Park sequel that made me feel like a kid again. While that reaction wasn’t the same as the excitement I felt when I was a kid back in 1993, I did find myself much more invested in the story, the characters, and of course, the dinosaurs. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is unlike any other Jurassic Park film which is why it not only stands out but feels special.
The story within Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom not only builds upon the plot of Jurassic World but of the original trilogy. We get a reminder that John Hammond played God when bringing the dinosaurs back to life and by creating Jurassic Park he opened Pandora’s box. The film plays on the concept that humans are creatures of habit and ones that tend to not learn from their mistakes. With that being the case it was only a matter of time before someone would play God again which ties into how the Jurassic World theme park became a reality.
Throughout the film, we get more insight into who John Hammond was before becoming the founder of Jurassic Park. We learn a bit more about his family background and his relationships. While some of the Jurassic cast does return in smaller roles including Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and Dr. Wu (BD Wong), it is the introduction of Lockwoods that push this new story forward. I enjoyed learning about John’s past with Benjamin because it gave the original story a bit more depth, however, the most interesting character is Benjamin’s granddaughter Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). I don’t want to spoil the fun, but there is a big reveal about Maisie that not only ties to the plot but also to the relationship between John and Benjamin.
Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly’s screenplay does such a superb job of building on the plot points from the previous films, which as a result, makes the film feel more well-rounded. My biggest problem with Jurassic World was that the story pretty much felt like it was trying to reinvent the wheel. The only things that were unique about that film were the creation of the hybrid dinosaurs and how Owen was able to train the raptors to listen to him. Both of these subjects make up a big part of the plot in this film as well. I feel like the Trevorrow and Connolly are building upon what they set up in Jurassic World while also taking some ideas from the original. I have a good feeling about where this story is going and like that it feels completely unlike any of the previous installments.
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard seem to be more connected and comfortable this time around as their performances in Fallen Kingdom are a lot stronger than in the previous film. I liked how in this entry, the script doesn’t spend a lot of time rebuilding their relationship but instead puts them right into the mission. I love how they complement and help each other throughout the film. Claire and Owen are both heroes in this one. Their chemistry feels more authentic than in the previous film as their interactions come across as very natural and genuine.
There are quite a few new characters that shape this story including Daniella Pineda as Zia, Justice Smith as Franklin, Rafe Spall as Eli Mills, and Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol. Zia and Franklin work alongside Claire and Owen. Franklin is a tech-savvy hacker with a huge fear of anything that is remotely dangerous while Zia is this smart and sarcastic veterinarian who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. I wasn’t too sure what to make of either character when they were first introduced, but both characters ended up having a pretty significant role in how the story played out. Eli and Gunnar are what I would label as corporate villains. These two characters were very dangerous because they cared more about money than what could ultimately happen.
The film is also surprisingly pretty emotional at times. There are two or three scenes where I started tearing up because of the dinosaurs. I have never teared up in a Jurassic Park film before and that is because while I always loved dinosaurs, I was never had an emotional connection to them. J.A. Bayona does such an incredible job making us feel for the dinosaurs and truly value their lives. One of the scenes that stuck out is after the volcano erupts and Claire and Owen are looking at the island, and you see the dinosaurs disappearing into the smoke.
I have become so used to these films being all about the action and dinosaurs fighting that I pleasantly surprised when the film asked big-picture questions about the human race and how the evolution of technology could potentially have a negative impact on society in the wrong hands. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of great action sequences including the volcanic explosion and a crowd-pleasing rooftop dino fight. I guess what I am ultimately getting at is that I am thankful for a blockbuster that not only sets out to entertain the audience but also makes them think about big picture ideas while being entertained.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the Jurassic Park sequel that I have been waiting 25 years to see. This is a refreshing sequel that isn’t afraid to break formula and try new things. Director J.A. Bayona has done remarkable work with this film and making this world his own. I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here and can only hope that Bayona will direct the next installment. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is hands down, the best entry in the Jurassic Park franchise since the 1993 original.