Jeff Goldblum puts in a brief appearance in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom to testify before lawmakers that dinosaurs should remain extinct. I would have agreed with him if he’d voiced that opinion during Jurassic World, but Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom shows there’s a still a little life left in the dino franchise.
The 2018 sequel to 2015’s reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise is set three years after the events of Jurassic World. Dinosaurs have been abandoned on Isla Nublar after they broke free and scared off (or ate) all the park visitors. The dinosaurs have the run of the place but now with a volcano on the verge of erupting and wiping out the remaining creatures, there’s a movement afoot to rescue them from their fiery fate.
Fortunately for dinosaur crusader Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her trusty interns/sidekicks, Franklin (Justice Smith) and Zia (Daniella Pineda), there’s a rich benefactor who wants to save the creatures from a second extinction level event. This benefactor has intimate knowledge of the process Hammond undertook to create the original Jurassic Park and bring the dinosaurs back to life, and he has a plan to remove the massive creatures to safety.
Claire drags Owen (Chris Pratt) all but kicking and screaming back to Isla Nublar where he’s able to reunite with his favorite Velociraptor, Blue. However, the reunion doesn’t go as planned because, of course, Claire and her team have been double-crossed. The dinosaur savior’s ulterior motives become clear, the plot takes a completely expected twist, and Claire, Owen, Franklin, and Zia must attempt to stop their benefactor’s nefarious plans.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s Claire is less a damsel in distress than in 2015’s action adventure film. She’s still not that interesting of a character, but at least this time around the writers have given Howard a character with a little more meat on her bones.
Key to the story is a new young character named Maisie (Isabella Sermon) who puts the pieces together before the adults can figure things out. Maisie’s backstory is the one surprise element of the film and needs to included in the storyline of the next Jurassic film. Following Maisie’s story would put a fresh spin on a franchise that’s becoming stale.
Chris Pratt’s roguish Velociraptor whisperer has more action scenes than lines of dialogue. That’s fine as who goes to a dinosaur film to watch the human characters anyway? And as the Isla Nublar newcomers, Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda add a jolt of energy to the dinosaur-loving humans team.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s intimidating beasties (including Blue) are the stars of the show, and director J.A. Bayona spends the first half of the film following the fleeing creatures around the island. The second half is taken up by their voyage across the ocean and their subsequent caging in the lower realms of a mansion.
Substituting for Jurassic World’s Indominus Rex is the Indoraptor, a highly intelligent hybrid designed to kill specific targets. The Indoraptor isn’t as big as the Indominus Rex, but it’s just as vicious. However, for some bizarre reason it’s stopped by a dumbwaiter’s wooden door. His keen senses also fail when the film needs the humans to get the upper hand. That also occurs in other scenes, defying the rules laid out about what a dinosaur can accomplish through brute physical strength.
On a lighter note, the film uses the Pachycephalosauria for comic relief. The head-butting dinosaur plays a pivotal role as an unlikely ally in the battle against ruthless businessmen and their heavily armed security details.
Working in the new Jurassic entry’s favor are thrilling action scenes, including some of the best of the Jurassic franchise. Many are direct throwbacks to the first Jurassic Park but with updated twists.
The plot’s generic and there’s too much time spent on the human villain who if he had a mustache would have been twirling it. Still, there’s fun to be had watching the dinosaurs wreak havoc and munch on the bad guys. Universal isn’t about to kill off its cash cow and the ending leaves open the possibility of a sequel. I say radically switch things up, shift the dynamics, and make the dinosaurs the leads with the humans inconsequential supporting players. The creatures are far more interesting than any of the human characters in the new Jurassic World films.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril
Running Time: 128 minutes
Release Date: June 22, 2018