Review: The ‘Jurassic’ Franchise Roars Its Way Back to Life with ‘Fallen Kingdom’

Life finds it’s way back into a tired franchise.

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Life finds it’s way back into a tired franchise.

RATING: ★★★ (out of four stars)

Jurassic Park is a monument of a film. It’s special effects work propelled the use of CGI and other practical effects into the stratosphere. This was another film of Spielberg’s that made blockbuster movies a staple of every summer.  Not only was the film entertaining as hell but it immediately cemented itself as a classic.  Every subsequent film in the franchise has faltered when trying to recapture the magic of the first one.  When the series was rebooted with 2015s Jurassic World, a movie where a fully functioning theme park was built and operational on dinosaur island.  While the movie failed to recreate the spectacle of the original, it did provide enough dino-violence to make it a financial success.  Now a few years later, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom manages to fix some of the problems with it’s predecessor by giving audiences a fun blockbuster with some freshness on the beloved dino franchise.

Set three years after the tragic events of Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom starts with a montage of news reports saying a volcano as become active on Isla Nublar.  Many people support going in to save the dinos, while other say let nature run its course. A wealthy man representing the Lockwood estate (former parter of the original park’s founder john hammond) approaches   Claire Dearing about transporting the dinosaurs to a nature reserve. Wanting to save the beloved dinosaurs from re-extinction, she recruits Owen to return to island once more.

There is a lot going on in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  Much like Jurassic World retread much of the original Jurassic Park, the first act feels like The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  The first act takes place on the island in a race for time to find Blue, the beloved raptor from World before the volcano erupts.  There is a new level of tension in this part of the film that hasn’t been present in a Jurassic film before.  The rumbling of the volcano is ever present to add tension to these quiet moments.  Once the eruption starts, the movie turns into full blown chaos as dinosaurs stampede past our heroes to escape certain destruction.  This sequence is one of the most fresh and most fun that has been in Jurassic movie in sometime.

Once the ash starts to settle the movie plays out in a way that highlight director J.A. Bayona’s reserved directing style. The camera effortless swops through quiet scenes with the characters to establish the space and slowly wring out the tension.  One sequence with Owen and Claire in the cage with a sedated T-Rex showcases this style of filmmaking.  The first act of the film is explosive with its action, while the last two thirds are more reserved for some thrilling sequences that closely resemble the horror elements of the original film.

One of the main plot points of this film’s predecessor is that audiences don’t care about the original dinosaurs anymore, so new ones must be manufactured.  This idea is carried out further with the Indoraptor, a hybrid of velociraptors and the Indominus Rex.  For fans of the ludicrous idea of a Jurassic film about dinos with guns, this is as close as its going to get in a practical sense.  The Indoraptor is much better than the Indominus Rex and provides for some genuine thrills.

The best thing about Jurassic World was how seemingly self aware the film was for a blockbuster.  It poked fun at cooperate sponsorships while being a cheesy action blockbuster itself.  This films carries that spirit with Chris Pratt’s charismatic deliver of the hokiest lines.  The movie is a by the books blockbuster through and through, but it never takes itself too seriously so the film feels fresh while it retreads familiar ground.

The best quality of Fallen Kingdom is how the ending setups future films.  the biggest problem with any Jurassic Park sequel is how the movies have been confined to the dinosaurs on island.  The events in the film, both on and off the island, allows any subsequent films to explore new territory that hasn’t been in a Jurassic film thus far.  The idea of genetics is on that is integral to the Jurassic franchise, but hasn’t been expanded upon outside of the dinosaurs.  What this film does with that shows the franchise has room to grow.

The film isn’t perfect, but every entry in the franchise after Jurassic Park has a lot to live up to.  This is the first film to boldly step into new territory and successfully pull it off.  It’s not a perfect movie, but really what blockbuster is.  Its fun through and through like a Jurassic film should be, and opens up the franchise to new ground that it desperately needs.  Any fan of the franchise needs to see this film, as it is essential viewing and entertaining as hell.

New Trailer: Life Finds a Way in ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’

“That’ll be a first – man and dinosaur all die together.” -Ian Malcolm

“That’ll be a first – man and dinosaur all die together.” -Ian Malcolm

The trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the follow up to 2015’s Jurassic World, released last night.  Chris Pratt as Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing return to the prehistoric fray.  This time instead of escaping from the dinosaurs, they have to rescue them.  Fingers crossed that the execution ends up being better than it sounds.

From the looks of the trailer, this looks like a very original Jurassic movie.  The characters from Jurassic World are back to run from more big bad dinos.  However, this time Isla Nublar has become an active volcano or something and it seems the island that we all know and love is under threat to explode.  Some of the imagery evokes thoughts of the volcanic decimation that said to have wiped out the dinosaurs billions of years ago. The trailer screams of some kind of bastard child of Jurassic Park and Geostorm, but I’m hoping that’s just flare for the trailer and not what the film ends up being.

One of the big draws this movie has is Jeff Glodblum reprising his role as Ian Malcolm, one of the best characters in cinema to emerge from the 90s.  In the trailer he is shown to be making a case for the dinosuars, spouting off his famous “life finds a way” line.  Hopefully his involvement in the film is more than just garnish in the form of a one off courtroom scene,  especially since one of the best things about the original Jurassic Park sequel was him being the main character.

Jurassic World was a fun movie.  It was a modernization of the original Jurassic Park movie on a Disney World sized scale.  It was a solid entertaining movie that wasn’t quite on par with the originals, but still good enough.  It performed well at the box office, so naturally a sequel was inevitable.  Fallen Kingdom looks like it is every bit as entertaining as World, but hopefully this original story doesn’t get overwhelmed by the cheesiness that blockbusters tend to lend themselves.

The film is produced by Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow, and Trevorrow penned the script after stepping away from the director’s chair for the follow up to his reboot. At the helm of the film is director J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls, Penny Dreadful), he has all the promise of making a great blockbuster.  He has stated before that he is implementing some of the horror elements that were present in the first movie, and from some of the behind the scenes material the studio has been pushing online it looks like they are going to implement both animatronics and CGI like the original movies.

Fingers crossed this movie lives up to the hype the studio has been pushing up until the trailer.  Jurassic World breathed new life into the franchise after as 14 year stretch between films.  The franchise really depends on this film, or else Jurassic Park is destined for extinction once again.