Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review – Everything New is Old Again
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review – As long are you aren’t looking for originality or logic from characters, a decent popcorn flick awaits.
Five movies and twenty-five years later, humans are still dumb. That’s not really much of a surprise given real-world events, but that message is the driving force of the Jurassic Park/World franchise, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn’t stray too far from that core idea. If anything, it doubles down on it.
To be fair, we wouldn’t have much of a movie series if people in the Jurassic Whatever universe did the smart thing. In fact, we probably wouldn’t have had the first film and we definitely wouldn’t have had Jurassic World, aka Jurassic World: None Lessons Learned. The latest offering isn’t quite as dumb as the last one (spoiler: Jurassic World was real dumb), but the sequel does offer a few better moments and an overall stronger atmosphere, plus it has a few new plot elements – even if they are buried under countless contrivances and regurgitated ideas that seem to assume people love the originals so, so much that they want to see the exact same things again.
But given how much money the original made, maybe that’s exactly right.
Fallen Kingdom picks up a few years after the events of Jurassic World. The Isla Nublar site remains evacuated and the animals rule the island, but a combination of really stupid and sloppy humans and an active volcano on the island draw attention back to the one-time amusement park/zoo.
With the genetically recreated animals facing a second extinction, a debate across the country asks whether or not the creatures should be saved from the certain doom of the volcano, or if it’s time to let God sort them out. On one side, you have former J-World boss-turned-activist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her team that includes noobs Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), and on the other Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and, well, pretty much everyone with the tiniest goddamn lick of common sense.
In one of the more unbelievable moments of the film, Congress actually makes a decision to do something, or technically do nothing when it announces it won’t intervene. That leads to a private and slightly illegal rescue funded by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the one-time partner of Jurassic Park founder John Hammond. One of the high-priority rescue animals is Blue, the last raptor, which lures back the reluctant Owen Grady (Chris Pratt).
Once they get to the island, a combination of an angry volcano god and duplicitous humans turns a rescue mission into something much different. And when spoiler spoiler spoiler, spoiler spoilers.
Fallen Kingdom has a few different settings and a couple new concepts, but the core idea remains the same. Humans arrogantly challenge dinosaurs and appear to triumph at first, then they do something monumentally stupid and pay the price. There’s also almost always an even more terrifying and dangerous dinosaur waiting that guarantees to be the scariest animal ever (until the next film). Rinse and repeat. And while it works if you can disconnect your brain and leave it in a jar somewhere safe, it feels tired and predictable, not to mention lazy.
But you probably aren’t watching a Jurassic Park/World film for the deep philosophy – the series gave up on that with Jurassic Park II. You’re watching it for the dinosaurs are monsters and the heroes are always one bad step away from being nommed upon. And with that firmly in mind, the film succeeds far better than the previous movie.
Director J.A. Bayona brings his horror background to Fallen Kingdom, and like most horror movies – especially sequels where the world has already been built – his film jumps between tense moment after tense moment with just a few character beats thrown in, most of which are only there to set up the ending. Character building is very much secondary to this film.
That still in part thanks to the bankably charismatic Pratt and the two likable and barely developed noobs Smith and Pineda (Howard is mostly just sort of there to advance the plot but she does have some good moments toward the end). But there are still a lot of things you’ll need to overlook – and not just the odd major plot convenience, but little things, like someone walking into the cage of a deadly killing machine capable of decimating humans at unprecedented rates blah blah blah, and then more or less poking it with a stick for fun.
There are plenty of moments like that, some excusable (like a terrified kid hiding badly), others not so much (like someone shooting a killer dinosaur three times and then lowering the gun). It all leads to a predictable climax, even if the very end is something new for the series.
Fallen World – like all the other Jurassic films – is set up in a way that leads to further stories. But unlike some of the earlier films, this one feels a bit like it is rushing to get to those later films. There are things that seem meant to pay off later, and to get to that point there are some massively painful leaps of logic. You kind of expect that at this point with this series though.
Despite that, it’s interesting to think where the series might go based on where Fallen Kingdom leaves it, and there’s already a sequel planned for June 2021. If nothing else, the next film will probably have lots of dinosaurs and humans doing dumb things against a spectacular CGI backdrop. That’s probably a safe bet.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review Conclusion
If you have fond memories of the earlier Jurassic trilogy, or for some reason you actually really liked Jurassic World, then Fallen Kingdom will check all your boxes. There are amazing set pieces, a wild backdrop, and an even more killy killing machine. There are also likable characters trying their best not to be entrees, some incredible effects, and the atmosphere in this film is better than the last.
Fallen Kingdom also brings the negatives of all the previous films too, including poor character development, major plot holes, and incredibly stupid decisions from people. And five movies deep, it feels like a rehash more than an expansion of the story. But hey, things blow up real pretty as dinosaurs byAnyone planning on seeing , so there’s that.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is rated PG-13 with a running time of 129 minutes.