Three years after the smashing success of Jurassic World (the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes audiences back to Isla Nublar for another popcorn blockbuster adventure featuring everyone’s favorite group of reptile offerings. But unlike Jurassic World where we saw mostly one dinosaur creating most of the mayhem on the island, Fallen Kingdom takes audiences back to the island where new dangers arise not only from the dinosaurs, but also from other parties. As the story plays out, it becomes obvious that Fallen Kingdom serves as a reinvention of the franchise. But luckily, the end results are roaring, which make it superior to its predecessor and take the franchise in a bold, new direction. Credit for that goes to director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage), who delivers another fun-filled dinosaur adventure full of dazzling action and nightmarish scares that make Fallen Kingdom the best Jurassic Park movie since the original.
Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.
Every Jurassic Park movie stems from dumb people doing dumb things that lead to chaos created by the dinosaurs that were recreated by said dumb people. It’s not difficult to connect the dots for Fallen Kingdom once you get a sense of what’s going on. And sure, we could talk for paragraphs about why dumb people continue to up the ante with dinosaurs with every passing movie (especially for Fallen Kingdom’s newest dinosaur), how cartoony the villains of Fallen Kingdom are, or why Fallen Kingdom might be sentimental toward dinosaurs as if they’re human characters we’re supposed to care about. But when you go to a Jurassic Park movie, you don’t go for the story (though the original’s is great). You’re there for the spectacle of it all, and that’s what makes Fallen Kingdom so thrilling and entertaining.
The movie’s action sequences are among the best in the entire franchise, like the opening scene that helps set the bar for the entire movie and shows how the movie plays out thematically, which helps steer the franchise in its new direction. While Jurassic World was more focused on nostalgia when reigniting the franchise, Fallen Kingdom is more horror-like than any previous Jurassic Park movie and that sets the stage for every action in the movie while also setting up the next installment. At times, Bayona uses old-school monster movie filmmaking tactics, like showing dinosaurs lurking in the darkness and visible only during quick strikes of lighting; this helps raise the already established tension. These touches, along with its other less dark moments, make for the most beautifully-shot Jurassic Park movie to date. Also, kudos to the visual effects team behind Fallen Kingdom, who make the creatures look more lifelike than ever before.
As for the characters in Fallen Kingdom, they are as standard as the come. Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Owen Kirby provides more comic relief this time around, which benefits the movie given how dark it can be at times. Bryce Dallas Howard (Lady in the Water) is back as Claire Dearing, but not wearing heels quite as much (which the movie acknowledges was a baffling story decision in Jurassic World).
Characters joining the cast of Fallen Kingdom include Rafe Spall (Prometheus), Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs), and Toby Jones (Captain America), who play an investor, mercenary, and auctioneer that have “unclear” motives. However, all three play cookie-cutter characters that are just there to fill in the blanks. While those three fill standard roles, there are newcomers who are pluses for the franchise, including Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, who play an IT specialist and a paleo veterinarian who accompany Owen and Claire to Isla Nublar. James Cromwell (The Green Mile) also appears for a few scenes as Sir Benjamin Lockwood, John Hammond’s partner from the original movie, which makes for a couple of wink and nod moments. And let’s not forget about Jeff Goldblum, who makes a brief cameo appearance as Dr. Ian Malcolm that serves a meaningful purpose for the overall story.
More often than you might expect, you can’t help but marvel at what you’re seeing unfold, as Bayona continuously paints strikingly haunting images of the carnivorous (and non-carnivorous) reptiles going after the human characters we see throughout Fallen Kingdom. Sure, you’ve seen just about everything in this franchise, but Fallen Kingdom flips the script on the franchise in both old and new exciting ways that remind audiences of why they love watching these popcorn blockbusters about regenerated reptiles. And for the first time in franchise history, we’re left wondering how the next installment will play out. Whatever the future–or reanimated past–may hold, we only can hope it’s as spectacular as Fallen Kingdom. The park might be gone, but this franchise has plenty of life left in it.