WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD FOR
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM
Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom sees the return of the story audiences saw begin back in 2015 to Isla Nublar and the rest of the world. With nothing left after the Indominus Rex ravaged the park but the de-extinct Dinos and a volcano about to erupt, the film brings to more and more to light themes of animal welfare as the plot unfolds.
The film opens on a submarine salvaging skeletal remains of the Indominus Rex from the ocean. This expedition can’t be without infiltration by the dinosaurs. The Mosasaurus consumes the sub in one bite, and the T-Rex chases down a technician, destroying the device that closes the underwater gate to the park. I thought this moment was extremely clever in that this moment makes the T-Rex responsible for dinosaurs going beyond the island. Overall, the action of this opening tees up some of the best sequences, but the plot is already showing signs of repetition with intent of recreating the Indominus.
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) still immerses herself in a life dedicated to dinosaurs and their well-being. She is now running the Dinosaur Protection Group, an organization that attempts to save them from any threat of becoming extinct again, especially now that a volcano threatens the remaining species. Among this organization are the witty Dr. Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and jittery technician Franklin Webb (Justice Smith), who are welcome additions to the cast.
The U.S. Senate, who, in their hearing, consult none other than Dr. Ian Malcolm played by the ever-so-charming Jeff Goldblum, comes to the decision that they will not act on saving the dinosaurs from the island. Goldblum’s cameo, although brief, is enjoyable. This news hits Claire hard. Not too long after, though, Claire receives a call from the Lockwood Estate. Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) was an old partner of John Hammond’s, the man who founded Jurassic Park. With the assistance of his young partner, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), he intends to brings the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary free of human disturbance.
Mills does request that, in order to rescue the eleven remaining species, especially one raptor in particular, Claire seeks out Owen Grady (Christ Pratt) to come with him on the rescue. Instead of having Claire and remain together, the franchise continues to repeat itself by having them again start off broken up. It would have been interesting to see what their lives were like together after three years. Although Owen refuses at first, he reminds himself of the relationship he developed with Blue since birth.
Claire, Owen, Zia and Franklin fly to Isla Nublar and meet up with the team coordinating the rescue, lead by mercenary Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine). As they trek onto the island, Franklin’s panics really bring in the laughs from here on out. In due time, they are able to find a functioning radio tower in which Franklin finds Blue by reactivating her tracker. Owen and Ken set out to find her, but when they do, the mercenaries immediately tranquilize Blue, which prompts her to attack. She is shot, and just as Owen is about to confront Ken, he too is tranquilized. It is revealed that not long after that Eli’s motives predictably are to make a profit off of the dinosaurs by trafficking them for warfare purposes. As much as this twist was seen coming, the pacing of its reveal seemed a little too quick.
The dueling stakes of the erupting volcano, predatory dinosaurs, and cruel-intentioned mercenaries are what make the rest of our heroes’ time on the island an exciting thrill ride. Claire and Franklin’s escape from a savage raptor while they are trapped underground simultaneous with Owen’s limp struggle to avoid the lava crawling towards him make for both smart and comedic action. This culminates in their reunited run from both the dinosaurs and lava. There are plenty of moving pieces when the gyrosphere comes into play. Between the conflict of dinosaurs, Owen’s attempts to keep up with the gyrosphere, and getting to safety in the ocean below, the sequences, although almost too fast-paced, does keep you on the edge of your seat. Owen, Claire and Franklin reach the cargo ship and must remain hidden from the mercenaries aboard, but not before they witness a brachiosaurus is consumed by the fallout of the volcano. I must admit, it did make emotion well up inside me.
Back at the Lockwood Estate, we find that Maisie, Lockwood’s granddaughter, is an explorer herself, investigating what Eli is up to. She must hide from him and his associates, including auctioneer Gunnar Eversol, played by Toby Jones, best known among us geeks as Arnim Zola in the Captain America films. This character’s connection to the story seems forced, but her cunning ability of stealth is a smart inclusion, especially to be allied with the likes of Owen and Claire later on. It also makes those that she hides from to be a metaphor for the true monsters that Maisie must avoid and eventually stop. The discovery that Mills, with the help of Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) from the first film, is now genetically engineering an Indoraptor to eventually be sold again comes as no surprise.
While on the cargo ship Arcadia, Blue is dying of blood loss. Dr. Rodriguez is treating her and requires are blood transfusion from an animal with “few fingers”. Claire and Owen then must retrieve blood from, you guessed it, the tranquilized T-Rex. The fact that the T-Rex is continually made crucial to the plot is just awesome to me.
The final act at the Lockwood Estate is not made interesting by the repetitive plot tropes, but instead by the stakes of the dinosaurs and the characters confined to such a small space. The Indoraptor is definitely a much more versatile improvement from the Rex and therefore much more of a chilling threat to our heroes. Another clever moment is when Owen shuts the lights off to avoid being seen by the Indoraptor, but Franklin must reboot the systems in the Estate to ventilate the hydrogen cyanide so it doesn’t kill the imprisoned dinosaurs.
Blue, although both an intelligent and memorable character in and of herself, seems to be a deus ex machina. Furthermore, I feel as if she and Owen’s relationship wasn’t as important as it was made out to be. Although the action had its moments, I preferred there would be more emotional stakes that would have made the film overall feel less flat. The revelation that Maisie as actually a clone of Lockwood’s daughter felt largely unnecessary despite it being the reason that Lockwood and Hammond were driven apart. Finally, the dinosaurs do end up being freed into the rest of the world as opposed to dying from toxic gases, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a looming threat. It makes me wonder what is left of the franchise, especially with the tendency it has to lack new ideas.
My grade for this film is a C+
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