7 out of 10
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Directed by J.A. Bayona
Three years after the events of Jurassic World, there has been a major development on the abandoned island. A volcano is about to blow up and wipe all of the dinosaurs off the face of the earth…again. As the world debates whether or not to save the dinosaurs, Claire Dearing actively campaigns to save them. Just when it seems like her efforts are in vain, she’s approached by Eli Mills. Mills represents Benjamin Lockwood, the former business partner of John Hammond, the founder of Jurassic Park.
Mills offers to covertly rescue the dinosaurs from the island before they’re wiped out. However, they need Claire to unlock the computer system to allow them to pinpoint the dinosaurs’ locations. In particular, they want to capture the velociraptor Blue. But to do so they require the assistance of Owen Grady. And to get him, they also need Claire.
As the group heads to the island, they quickly discover that not everything is as it seems. And by saving the dinosaurs, Claire and Owen may be condemning them to a new, more sinister fate.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is more of the same from the Jurassic Park series. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing. But generally what they’re copying still works and the film ends up being a crowd pleaser. You wanted to see CGI dinosaurs chasing people and sometimes catching them? You got it.
The highlights of any Jurassic Park movie are the action scenes and this fifth film delivers some unique moments. Some are spectacular like our heroes running through a stampede of dinosaurs amidst a volcanic eruption, other tense scenes are much smaller in scale such as Owen and Claire trying to draw blood from a tranquilized T-Rex. Then there are the scenes that play on people’s basic primal fears. The mosasaur stalks a submersible in the inky black ocean. Another dinosaur stalks Claire in a dark tunnel. Then, if that wasn’t enough, the new genetically modified raptor is literally the monster about to attack the little girl hiding under her covers. So from an action / scare perspective, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom delivers.
While action is the main draw, this film does have heart as well. I was impressed with how J.A. Bayona managed to give the CGI dinosaurs personality, and when some of the dinos are inevitably killed off, it is an unexpectedly emotional moment. The final destruction of the island is a stark contrast to its wondrous introduction in the first film. You may hear a few sniffles in the theater at that moment.
The cast is again stellar. Chris Pratt is great as Owen Grady, he provides laughs and charm as usual. Bryce Dallas Howard is also excellent as Claire Dearing. She’s a true partner to Owen in the action scenes and they continue to have great chemistry together. The real standouts are Justice Smith as Franklin Webb and Daniella Pineda as Zia Rodriguez. Smith provides a lot of comic relief as Franklin, the tech genius. He has no desire whatsoever to be there and when he’s thrown into the middle of some of the biggest action scenes of the series, he screams like most of us would. Then Daniella Pineda has a breakout performance as Zia. She’s a paleo-veterinarian and is fascinated by the dinos. As much as Franklin is fearful of them, she is drawn to them. The two make a great pair when on screen together. Then there’s Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood. Every Jurassic Park film needs a child to terrorize and Sermon is it this time. She looks terrified and screams as well as any kid in the series, but her character has an interesting twist that I I think Michael Crichton would approve. The cast is rounded out by favorites such as James Cromwell as Benjamin Lockwood, Toby Jones as Mr. Eversol, Ted Levine as Ken Wheatley, and BD Wong as Dr. Wu.
I should also mention the score by Michael Giacchino. He’s the hardest working composer in Hollywood right now. Having scored so many genre films this year and last year, you’d expect him to be burning out soon, yet he continues to deliver strong scores and shows no signs of letting up. He also manages to include John Williams’ original themes in a way that will make fans happy.
On a final note, there is a brief scene at the end of the credits. It’s nothing major, but I was glad I stuck around for it.
What Didn’t Work:
As fun as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is, it does retread a lot of familiar territory. We get another custom-made dinosaur that breaks free and kills humans. We see the T-Rex do more last second saves of the humans by chomping another dinosaur. Owen again does battle with other dinosaurs alongside Blue. It felt very predictable.
This film also has what I’ve heard called “bridge syndrome.” In a trilogy, the first film sets up the conflict and the final film resolves it. If you’re not careful, the middle story simply serves as a bridge between the two more interesting parts and serves little extra purpose. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom feels like a bridge story that’s sole purpose is to get the dinosaurs off of the island and into the rest of the world. And as fun as this film is, the next film feels like the one we’ve been waiting to see. You walk out of the theater wanting to see more, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it makes this film seem like it is lacking a little.
Finally, if you were wanting to see Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm, you may be disappointed. He’s barely in the film and when he is, the scene is rather dry.
The Bottom Line:
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is well worth checking out on the big screen. It is a crowd-pleasing popcorn flick that’s fun to see with a vocal audience. While it’s not the best in the series, it’s still a solid entry.
If I were ranking all of the films to date, he’s how I’d list them:
1. Jurassic Park