By Olivia Greubel
There is a spoiler alert in effect. You’ve been warned.
The sequel to 2015’s “Jurassic World” opened this past weekend. In “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”, Chris Pratt reprises his role as Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard returns as Claire Dearing. Jeff Goldblum is back (albeit for about six minutes). B.D. Wong even appears for his DNA splicing, dinosaur making science talk (also about six minutes). The film has other familiar faces and some new ones, most notably Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood.
Fallen World is funny. Pratt maintains his boyish charm and Justice Smith as Franklin Webb bears the brunt of it. Smith falls into the stock character the Park Franchise films need- the sane one who, like the audience, audibly wonders what the hell they’re doing there. Jurassic World ended with immense tragedy and strife because there have to be casualties in a dinosaur movie. This prompts the driving question of “Fallen Kingdom”: Should these dinosaurs still be protected?
The island housing contains a supposed dormant volcano. It is discovered to be active. Very active. The volcano threatens the dinosaurs’ existence.
The logical answer, the one the Goldblum offers in court, is that yeah, the dinosaurs should probably be left to die. They are cool and all, but uh, they’re also incredibly dangerous and impossible to control. In comes Claire Dearing. She’s set up a rescue agency to protect these dinosaurs, complete with a paleo-veterinarian, Danielle Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez, who has never seen a dinosaur. I found this set up a little surprising after the events of the previous film. When will they learn?
Claire was hunted by dinosaurs for two hours last time and now she fights to keep them safe. She even argues with a congresswoman that the rescue is “for the children’s best interest.” Because who can imagine a world without dinosaurs, except the generations of people who already have.
The Lockwood Estate wants to protect the dinosaurs by transporting them to a new island secluded away from people– no theme parks this time. They need Claire’s handprint for the dinosaurs’ tracking system, prompting her return. Owen Grady is necessary too since he’s the only one the remaining velociraptor will listen to. Claire accepts, finding her ex building a cabin somewhere deep in the wilderness (how rugged). After casually recapping their breakup for the audience, there’s enough backstory to finally return to the island.
This is where the film really takes off. There are familiar, but majestic herbivore scenes and sweeping cinematic song ballads. Also splashes of action-packed drama, volcanic eruptions, dinosaur fights, and screaming. Decent enough, but cue the the dun-dun-dun music.
Once more, Owen and Claire got played by rich people who claimed to care about the dinos. Eli Mills (portrayed by Rafe Spalls), manager of the Lockwood Estate, actually wants to auction off the dinosaurs to make millions of dollars. This is where Maisie Lockwood comes in. Through some sleuthing, Maisie discovered Mills was up to no good and teams up with Owen and Claire. It’s this trio that builds the film’s third and final act, the act that I consider to be a waking nightmare.
Dinosaurs are unleashed inside a mansion. Rich people get eaten. There is a blood-thirsty clone raptor running around. Major plot twists are dropped in the heat of a frenzied moment. It feels like a nightmare because no logic or reason could be applied to it. Hide as best you can, run as fast as you can (maybe ditch the heels) and it will all be in vain. You aren’t escaping these dinosaurs.
At the end of Fallen Kingdom, doors are opened for the Jurassic Park Universe to change completely. Jurassic World 3 is slated for a 2021 release, and in the meantime, all we can do it guess what could happen next. As for Fallen Kingdom, it delivered all the necessary moves a Park movie needs. While it was essentially set up for a third installment, it did so nicely.
In a sci-fi/action/drama/comedy blockbuster, I can’t say I’d expect anything less.