Seems kind of pointless to put that spoiler warning in for this review considering that, if you’ve seen all of the trailers for this movie, you pretty much know everything that happens and exactly how the film goes beat for bit and the ending but, you know, gotta protect those easily-angered internet denizens.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Bayona, 2018) is, of course, the sequel to Jurassic World (Trevorrow, 2015) and the latest in the Jurassic Park series of movies based, loosely, on the books by Michael Crichton. Set some three years after the events of Jurassic World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom sees the genetically resurrected attractions of the titular park face the prospect of renewed extinction when a long-dormant volcano threatens to destroy the entire island of Isla Nubar.
While the debate rages in congress regarding whether the dinosaurs should be preserved or left to their fate, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) reaches out to Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to join a team in returning to Jurassic World and saving as many species as possible before they can be wiped out.
Joined by Claire’s assistants, Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and Dr. Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), and a group of mercenary types led by Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), Claire and Owen and successful in locating Blue, the last Velociraptor, but are ultimately betrayed when it is revealed that Wheatley has been hired to steal the dinosaurs for Lockwood’s aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall).
Escaping the destruction of Isla Nubar, Claire and Owen stow away back to Lockwood’s mansion where Mills, alongside Gunnar Eversol (Toby Jones) and Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong), not only auction off their captives but also engineer an entirely new and deadly breed of dinosaur, the Indoraptor, to the highest bidders.
As I said, the trailers have really outdone themselves with how much of the movie they give away; by watching each, you know that the dinosaurs are in danger and must be saved, that they’re taken from the island and the protagonists are betrayed, that the dinosaurs are auctioned off and that the Indoraptor is created and runs amok. With some creative imagination, you can fill in the blanks between these trailers and pretty much guess the entirety of this movie, which ends up being a cross between The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Spielberg, 1997) and Jurassic Park III (Johnston, 2001).
Despite that, however, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a very effective monster movie; some Jurassic Park fans may decry this but, make no mistake, these movies have always been monster movies. Giant, medium, and tiny dinosaurs have always run amok and eaten people in these films and, yes, while the original may have had a heart and soul that elevated it above a typical monster film, at their core this is what the series has been from the start. The Indoraptor takes this to the next level, shot and presented in as many terrifying ways as possible and presented as a nightmarish creature that lives only to stalk, kill, and eat.
When the movie is focusing on these elements, it truly shines; the dinosaur effects and action are probably the best that they have ever been and the return of fan favourite creatures such as Blue and the Tyrannosaurus Rex are always exciting to see.
As for the human characters, Chris Pratt carries this film; the guy has such a natural charisma that he elevates anything he is in. his character arc is pretty much the same as the last film (he’s the ‘Raptor trainer who is level-headed, wants to stand against those who would do harm to the dinosaurs, and is trying to win back Claire) but he’s just too likable to care too much that he hasn’t changed much between movies. Bryce Dallas Howard is probably better in this film than the last, where her time as the annoying, stuck-up corporate stooge really got on my nerves, and the new characters (especially Daniella Pineda) are decent enough in their roles and supply some respectable comic relief, when necessary.
Honestly, though, it really feels like the resurrection of the Jurassic Park franchise does not actually deserve a whole new trilogy. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom retreads a lot of ground covered in the original two sequels and continues the insane idea that dinosaurs could be used as biological weapons of war, but covers its imperfections and flaws with a wash of incredible effects and terrifying imagery. The franchise will clearly progress to its third instalment but one can only hope that the next film truly tries something fresh and new with the series.
Recommended: I would always recommend a Jurassic Park film; even after all these years, it’s still impressive to see dinosaurs brought to life onscreen.
Best moment: The entire sequence on Isla Nubar, despite being largely spoiled by the trailers, and the Indoraptor’s rampage, for sure.
Worst moment: There are some parts where the film drags noticeably and the plot is stupidly predictable, especially after watching the previous movies and the trailers.