No matter how many Jurassic movies they make, I’m always going to be excited to see them. Why? Because they make me feel like a giddy little kid again. Because they inevitably conjure up memories of 1993’s game-changing Jurassic Park. Because they remind me of the fun I’ve had running around Universal Studios’ Jurassic Park land in Orlando and going on the fantastic Jurassic Park River Adventure ride both there and at Universal Studios Hollywood. And because I just love watching completely realistic-looking dinosaurs wreak havoc on the big screen. In this sense, the fifth installment in the series — Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — certainly does not disappoint.
We begin three years after the events of Jurassic World, which ended with everyone evacuating and abandoning the Isla Nublar amusement park after its showcase dinos raged out of control and destroyed the place, either killing, injuring or forever traumatizing any human in their path.
Now the U.S. Senate debates what, if anything, its members should do about the fate of the creatures left on Isla Nublar, as the island’s volcano is going to erupt at any moment and will most certainly snuff out all beasts that remain. When the government decides to let nature take its course, the ailing Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromell) — a partner of the park’s original founder — asks his estate manager Eli (Rafe Spall) to reach out to the park’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).
From Eli, Claire learns that Lockwood owns another island that some dinos could be safely relocated to so that they don’t go extinct once again. Eli’s team needs Claire’s handprint to activate the dino-locator system on Isla Nublar. Claire in turn pleads with former Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) — who’s quite content drinking beer by himself while building a cabin in the remote wilderness thankyouverymuch — to return to the island with her to try and save as many of the dinosaurs as they can. She knows he still has a soft spot for Blue, the raptor he’d trained since birth.
The first half of the film revolves around Claire, Owen and their team trying to get the dinosaurs off of the island … while also coming to the realization that their own lives are in danger because the mercenary team accompanying them on the mission seems to have another agenda.
I loved the first half. It’s what I came for: gorgeous scenery, Michael Giacchino’s score, and complete and utter dino mayhem. It was fantastic.
The second half is a little different. Once everyone is off of Isla Nublar for what must be the truly final time (right… after a volcano destroyed it? Oh who am I kidding, probably not…) — and I should mention the parting shot of the island totally made me tear up — the action moves to Lockwood’s sprawling Californian estate. There, family secrets and nefarious humans take center stage, and while there are certainly still plenty of dinos to go around, the new storyline and setting was less compelling. The film shifted from an action movie to something like a cat-and-mouse thriller, and the momentum that had been built to that point suffered.
But I still enjoyed Fallen Kingdom overall, and while some may groan at the obvious set-up for the next film during its final minutes (as well as during a franchise first: an exceedingly brief end-credits scene), I honest-to-god found what’s coming next to be the series’ most intriguing concept since the original Jurassic Park. Yeah, I said it! However, we won’t see if they can actually pull off that concept until the final installment of the Jurassic World trilogy comes out in June 2021.
That seems like so far away … we probably will have figured out how to bring dinosaurs back by then! (Gulp.)