Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Introduces the Most Sinister Dinosaur Yet
I am fascinated by the perpetual currency of Jurassic Park. We know the premise: man creates dinosaur, dinosaur eats man. We are five films deep into this thing, but I have not tired of it yet. One film ends and I leave satisfied thinking we have reached the peak of raptors running amok. Then comes the next and the question must be answered: how can we make this worse? Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom does just that in some surprising ways without jumping the shark. Ok, they do jump a megladon, but in this instance, it is fitting. Watch out – we’re talking SPOILERS.
We know what to expect from the prehistoric predators, but writers Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow always manage to stay one step ahead. I was sure each time I knew how the scene would play out, but the sequence pushed one twist further to my repeated surprise. The script smartly captures the familiar and then gives it an extra nudge. Fallen Kingdom opens with a scene of foreboding, as Jurassic films always do. Someone was going to die. An underwater team communicates with another on the mainland on the dinosaur infested island. I tried to guess which characters would succumb and in what way. I was always wrong.
The premise is reestablished: people will be eaten. But, Fallen Kingdom doubles down on the danger with an exploding Isla Sorna. Escape a T-Rex only to be fried by molten lava. You would think that Hammond would have had fiery destruction on the brain when building dinosaurs, but he failed to avoid an active volcano while buying land. Go figure.
Yet here we see the payoff of continuing the Jurassic legacy 25 years on. The VFX technology has brought us to a place of seeing dinosaurs as living creatures, not just movie monsters. When the volcanic eruptions causes a stampede, the animals appear to be the most natural that we have ever seen them. While the circumstance is far from realistic, they are acting as dinosaurs would by simply surviving. While I treasure the fantasy of seeing living dinosaurs one day, this was the closest I felt to actually living it.
Leaving the island is where director J.A. Bayona begins to say goodbye to the old. Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) leave on a modern ark made to save one of every species. Many dinosaurs are, of course, left behind as the island burns. The most somber moment of the film comes as we get our last glimpse of the island and a Brachiosaurus is engulfed by the lava. Our first friend that Drs. Grant and Sattler encountered on Isla Nublar. The first Jurassic Park dinosaur we ever saw.
As the story shifts to the mainland, new rules are written and the future of Jurassic World finally begins to reveal itself. Of course, there are ne’er do wells who wish to weaponize the dinosaurs, an obvious plot point. Have dinosaurs, will kill. Yet, unlike the past generation, Owen and Claire have an emotional connection to the individual animals. Drs. Grant, Sattler and Malcolm saw nothing good coming from Jurassic Park, but Owen and Claire hope for ways they can coexist.
If the bigger, scarier, toothier dinosaur is beginning to fatigue, here comes the twist. Evil doers will always do evil things with technology, but what happens when well-meaning characters have used it in new ways? I truly expected the dinosaurs getting more and more out of hand would push the story to its final, destructive end. Now we have new moral dilemmas to worry about. Can you love something man made, even if it will destroy you?
Children have always been an important element of the Jurassic franchise and Maisie Lockwood becomes the future of the franchise. Not only because she is the next generation, but she has a shocking connection to the dinosaurs that no other character can claim. Her storyline is key in both plot and emotion and actress Isabella Sermon handles both with astounding maturity. Oh, Maisie. What have you done?
Although bleak and bloody, Jurassic World is a fantasy that we joyously relive again and again. Fallen Kingdom proves there is room for this legacy to continue. Fossil fuels may be running low, but dinosaur regeneration is a renewable resource for the franchise. Long live the T. Rex.
Featured Image: The Indoraptor stalks its prey—(L to R) Owen (CHRIS PRATT), Claire (BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD) and Maisie (ISABELLA SERMON) in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Welcome to “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”