Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom just crossed the billion dollar mark in worldwide box office sales. It is the third film in the Jurassic franchise to do so after Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. It is abundantly clear at this point: audiences still love dinosaurs.
At the same time, there are many moviegoers and members of the film criticism world that wonder why this franchise is still going, or think that the franchise is ridiculous at this point. I disagree with them, but I have to ask: five films into a story about resurrecting dinosaurs upon the world, where did you think we were going to end up? It wasn’t going to be anywhere small. And did these same film critics ask these questions when the Star Wars franchise this year released its tenth film, which was its third in the last three years? Not that I’m aware of. But, I digress.
Count me among those that really, really enjoy Jurassic World. After many viewings, study, and dissection, I see it as a true and natural progression of the story that Michael Crichton, Steven Spielberg, and John Williams created with Jurassic Park. I recognize its minor flaws, but it’s important that I say this: as you read what I have to say about the latest entry in the franchise, I may seem a bit biased. That is because Jurassic Park is my favourite film of all time, and the subsequent franchise has my whole heart. However, I will be doing my very best to approach the latest film with objective eyes and ears.
At least for a few minutes, let’s try liking Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for what it is instead of hating it for what it isn’t. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an exciting continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise and story as a whole, bringing in many new elements, but also revealing its ties to the franchise’s past. It is complete with fantastic dinosaur effects and action, and a marvellous musical score. Fallen Kingdom inserts gothic horror and dark science-fiction elements into its second half, making for a refreshing entry that gets away from the islands audiences are familiar with in this dino franchise. Most importantly, its ultimate plot takes the franchise in a bold and terrifying new direction. Director J.A. Bayona knocked this one out of the dinosaur park.
On the whole, Fallen Kingdom’s pacing is too quick. Many moments, both beautiful and thrilling, could and should have been drawn out longer, if even for just a few more seconds. However, this makes the film anything but boring or slow. When the credits roll and you hear the Jurassic Park theme, you might find yourself catching your breath and realising the wild adventure you just witnessed.
And Fallen Kingdom is just that: wild. As far as quantity goes, this entry into the franchise contains the most perilous action and character-driven moments, which is a good thing. While some of those characters might feel a bit thin, in the end, this is a story about dinosaurs and the nefarious corporation that created them, right? These significant character moments are becoming more and more present as the franchise moves forward. This is a step in the right direction for this franchise. It helps audiences connect with these stories and believe more.
Fallen Kingdom picks up where Jurassic World left off, especially in that it continues the story of Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). She is a strong, daring, and often brazen heroine who, let’s face it, is the true driver of the plot of the latest sequels in the franchise. Yes, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) heroically helps out, but without Claire Dearing, World and Fallen Kingdom wouldn’t have much of a plot to stand on. She authorised the creation of the dinosaur antagonist of World, and her mission to save the dinosaurs is the initial driver of the plot of Fallen Kingdom. Bryce Dallas Howard is the standout human of these franchise sequels.
The standout dinosaur is another strong female: Rexy (her name among Jurassic fans), the Tyrannosaurus Rex that first appeared in Jurassic Park and joined the carnage once more in World and now Fallen Kingdom. That’s another element that makes World and Fallen Kingdom great: their impassioned, strong female characters.
Fallen Kingdom’s cinematography and score are especially great, and they are showcased in the second half of the film. InGen’s plot to auction the surviving dinosaurs is revealed, along with their newest deadly hybrid creation: the Indoraptor. The plot of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is mimicked in a way, as they have been growing this creature in the basement of Lockwood Manor, the home of John Hammond’s (father of Jurassic Park) former partner Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell).
When their behemoth of a creation escapes, what ensues is reminiscent of early horror films such as The Wolf Man or even Dracula. Gothic horror imagery and dark, operatic underscore make the second half of this film as enthralling as it is terrifying. These filmic elements haven’t been utilised to this extent in the Jurassic franchise to this point. J.A. Bayona does an excellent job inserting these new themes and images into the series.
Perhaps the biggest reason that I love Fallen Kingdom is because it is a continuation of the themes in Michael Crichton’s original Jurassic Park novel. The extent and unexpected elements of Fallen Kingdom’s plot feel very at home in Crichton’s world. It is revealed that Maisie Lockwood (the film’s main child character and Benjamin Lockwood’s daughter, portrayed by Isabella Sermon) was brought to life using the cloning techniques pioneered by InGen and John Hammond to create dinosaurs. This choice by Lockwood is what drove him and Hammond apart many years ago. This plot thread in particular feels like something Michael Crichton would have written about.
In what is Fallen Kingdom’s most overt connection to Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) makes his return to the franchise. His most ominous and telling words are heard as the rescued dinosaurs are ultimately released upon the world. To paraphrase him: “…Man has discovered genetic power, the most powerful tool known to man, and we aren’t being very responsible with it. Our greed and political megalomania are going to be the death of us.” And he is exactly right. The awesome force of the genetic power first seen in Jurassic Park is spelling our doom as a species because of our irresponsibility and blind, childish greed.
Fallen Kingdom is among the Jurassic franchise’s best because it serves as a culmination of the dangerous ethical questions this dino franchise has been asking since the beginning: can humans manage newly discovered scientific power correctly? Or will our quest for awe, power, and money spell our doom? That is why this film franchise is still going: we are seeing the dangerous and dark answers to those questions…
In the end, Fallen Kingdom is an extremely entertaining, thrilling, and scary entry in the Jurassic franchise that is well worth your time and money. Don’t always listen to what others say. Join the others who love dinosaurs and the relevant moral questions these films pose. Go to the cinema and find out for yourself! The dinosaurs are alive and well!