Here’s a hot take. Jurassic Park should never have been a franchise. The reason being is that all of the dinosaurs are on an island. They can’t go anywhere. If you stay away from the island, everyone is fine.
But Jurassic Park made more than $1 billion worldwide. In fact, it was the first movie ever to make a billion so naturally, sequels were inevitable. The problem is that now you need reasons for people to go back to the island. Who would be dumb enough to do that?
In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, they came up with a second island, Isla Sorna, full of dinosaurs. Because that worked so well the first time. Then it became a rescue mission to save Julianne Moore’s character because she was dumb enough to go there. Now more people have to go. And then even more because some greedy rich people want to extract the dinosaurs from the island and bring them to NORTH AMERICA. Great idea.
Jurassic Park III is also a rescue mission as Alan Grant (Sam Neill), our favorite paleontologist, goes to Isla Sorna to save a boy alone on the island. The reason for the boy being anywhere near the island is idiotic.
The entire franchise is essentially those stories you read about people willingly jumping into the lion cage at the local zoo. They inevitably die and we have to feel sorry for them even though they were stupid.
This brings us to the Jurassic World franchise. In the first film, John Hammond’s vision of a working dinosaur park is finally a reality. But much like going to a NASCAR race to see a car crash, the dinosaurs have to eventually take the island to create action, suspense and even a little bloodshed.
In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the dinosaurs have once again been left alone. Only this time, there’s a volcano that’s about to erupt which will lead to their extinction all over again. Great, problem solved.
Except, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), has suddenly grown to care for the dinosaurs and now runs a dinosaur activist group keen on saving the animals. “They have rights too,” she says at one point. How does her sister feel about this? You know, the one with the two kids who Claire nearly had killed in the first film.
She stumbles into a meeting with Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) who was an old friend of Hammond. He has an idea to move the dinosaurs to a sanctuary where they can live in peace. With very little convincing, she agrees to go the island, with the dinosaurs that nearly ate her, and the volcano that’s about to erupt, to access information about Blue, the last remaining raptor.
No one knows Blue better than Owen (Chris Pratt), so she convinces him to go to the island too. “Save the dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to explode. What could go wrong,” he says.
Everything, actually. Everything could go wrong and does.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is two movies. The first half is the rescue mission on the exploding island. This is where all the money for the budget went. Our likable yet stupid characters escape lava, dinosaurs (Naturally) and a fall off a cliff.
In one of the better set pieces, two characters are stuck inside a gyrosphere underwater. In what’s made to look like one long shot, Owen attempts to open the gyrosphere as Claire and Franklin (Justice Smith) begin to drown. It’s tense and well executed.
They survive and learn that Lockwood’s right-hand man, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), intends to sell the dinosaurs to the highest bidder.
The second half of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a haunted house movie. Set entirely inside Lockwood’s giant mansion; Claire, Owen and a young girl attempt to foil Mills’ plan. In a scene taken right out of King Kong, Mills holds an auction (In the basement, I guess) with the one percenters and wheels out each species of dinosaur.
Our three heroes break the dinosaurs out, who proceed to eat some of the people. But it’s okay, because they’re all rich which means they’re probably evil. Probably. There’s also a Russian. You know there’s something sinister about that guy.
You can tell the mansion scenes were tailor-made for director J.A. Bayona. His credits include The Orphanage, The Impossible and A Monster Calls. He’s a master of creating suspense and when a new dinosaur engineered in a lab breaks out, the movie turns into a claustrophobic nightmare as the dinosaur seemingly stalks the young girl. One terrifying scene sees the girl attempting to enter a small elevator in the mansion as the dinosaur barrels it’s way toward her down a narrow hallway.
As mentioned earlier, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is two movies. The first half is the studio’s and the second half is the director’s. This pivot at least creates distinct visual looks, but as a whole, the movie lacks momentum. They don’t seem to be building toward anything.
There’s no development with Pratt’s character and he’s far less charming in this than he was in the first film. There’s an attempt to develop his relationship with Blue, but that’s over quickly and you could argue Blue is the action star of this movie. Not Pratt.
Claire has some growth as a character, but when compared to the first film, her actions and motivations make no sense. Other characters exist simply for comic relief and the villains are borderline cartoon characters.
There’s also a bizarre subplot with the girl’s true identity and when they reveal it, you’re left thinking, “wait, what!”
And then there’s the idiotic decision-making. It’s a tradition with this franchise and I’ve already chronicled some of them. But one in particular at the end is so offensive, the person should be locked up.
This decision sets up the third movie, which is really the only reason for this one to exist. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is nothing more than filler. The plot borrows directly from other entries in the franchise and when we inevitably get a third movie, I might be rooting for the dinosaurs.