“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is a good movie. Yeah, I said it. Not anywhere near as great as the original film, but still a boat load better than its predecessor. This film is an absolutely fun time at the movies. Is it a masterpiece? No. Is it a smart, modern look at a plausible world filled with dinosaurs? Yes.
In order to fully grasp the fun this film has to offer, you first must understand the logistical workings of the film. Directed by J.A. Bayona (“The Orphanage”) this film is most successful at creating an experience similar to a middle-school chemistry project: You may not mix the ingredients correctly, but in the end, it comes out good enough for you to still feel good. This is mostly in part due to the fast-paced nature of mixing conspiracy theories with gothic horror tones, and creating an even larger scale world for the audience to dive into.
The start of the film (which is so similar to the original “Jurassic Park”) we learn that no one is safe on the coveted Isla Nublar. You could have a million solid metal gates and these dinosaurs would still be able to escape and cause havoc. But the dinos are given even more motivation when the island itself comes tumbling down on them thanks to a newly-active volcano. Resurrecting dinosaurs: Millions of dollars. Making a park with said dinosaurs: Huge profit. Cost of losing all of them to a rare volcano: Priceless.
And this is why our previously introduced leads Owen Grady (Star-Lord) and Claire Dearing (Gwen Stacy) are brought back: To save the dinosaurs. While it’s an easy job for Claire (who is now an animal activist for the man-eating creatures), Owen is overcome with a sense of hesitance, thanks to his new peaceful life approach being threatened by trying to get dinosaurs off of an imploding island. Of course, he eventually agrees to the wonderfully adventurous trip, but only because of his velociraptor pal, Blue, who needs one last favor from her former trainer.
When reaching the island, the film starts to pick up at an exponential level. Beginning with various exposition-heavy scenes (that practically mansplain the plot to the audience), we finally get to see the revered animals yet again, but this time in a more terrifying way. This may be because of the more practical FX, or the overtly horror-esque scenes, but this film seriously packs a punch. If you saw a dinosaur in real life it would be scary, and the filmmakers finally realize this (only took five movies, amiright?).
These scenes (particularly the ones in the middle of the second act) begin to take the franchise in a much fresher direction, by subsequently creating more emotionally charged scenes involving the creatures, which make you better understand Claire and Owen’s motivations to thrust themselves in this inescapable situation. This emotional core is also referenced later at the end of the film, and really add that one two punch for me to really feel something during this movie.
But as the film chugged along at a breakneck pace, I began to realize how flat the supporting characters felt. This is at no fault to those portraying them (who all do a great job) but more so the fault of the script. It unnecessarily introduces these characters who are used as fillers to push the story along. If we followed the main, more interesting story (and characters) this whole schrade would have been done in an hour and 20 minutes, but that isn’t quite what the studio was looking for, obviously.
This is the biggest issue with this otherwise fun blockbuster film: It setups up way too many things without fully realizing them. The whole first act is literally dedicated to setting up the world revolving around these various characters, and their plight, but never bothers to fully realize their arcs or decisions. The film is weighed down heavily by yet another mediocre child character (for some reason they think that by adding a kid it’ll make the film better), and this character is literally a story point, not a character. She isn’t human in the slightest.
In the end, “Fallen Kingdom” feels like just another blockbuster in some respects, but thanks to the gothic tones and genuinely heartbreaking sequences, excels passed all of the films preceding it (save for the original, of course…).
On A Teen’s Take Rating Scale, this film gets a B-.