Last year I blogged about my to-watch list of science fiction and fantasy films. Since then, I’ve been periodically reviewing science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative fiction films. Previous instalments in this series include Into the Forest, Annihilation, Coco, Winchester, The Little Stranger, Astraea, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, and A Dog’s Purpose.
Film Content Warning: blood, hypodermic needles, animal abuse, and animal deaths. These scenes were brief and were often more implied than actually shown. As always, this otherwise will be a spoiler-free review, and I’m happy to share more details in private with anyone who requests them.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a 2018 science fiction adventure film that is the sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World. Fallen Kingdom is set on a fictional island about 200 miles southwest of Costa Rica called Isla Nublar where all of the dinosaurs from Jurassic World were relocated from a failed amusement park before this tale began.
Isla Nublar was intended to be the permanent home for the dinosaurs. When scientists realized that the volcano on that island was soon going to erupt, the main characters in this universe had to decide how and where to relocate the dinosaurs before Isla Nublar was destroyed.
If you haven’t seen Jurassic World or the original Jurassic Park trilogy from the 90s, before, don’t worry. There are plenty of references to the earlier instalments in the later films that are fun Easter eggs for devoted fans, but everything in this franchise has worked well as standalone stories so far. I will briefly fill you in on a few important details in my character descriptions, too.
I began discussing characters in the past tense in my first horror film review here to avoid the slightest whiff of spoilers about their fates. This is something I’ve continued doing for the sake of blog continuity and should not be interpreted in any other way.
This cast is on the larger side, but it’s important to know who everyone is before I jump into my review.
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Own Grady was the Animal Behaviourist hired by Ben to help round up as many dinosaurs as possible on Isla Nublar before the volcano destroyed them. He had previously worked as a Velociraptor trainer for the Jurassic World theme park in the first part of this trilogy, so he was an expert on the topic.
While he was impulsive at times, Owen was at heart a deeply kind and brave man.
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Claire was the former Operations Manager of Jurassic World. After that theme parked closed down, she became a dinosaur-rights activist and founder of the Dinosaur Protection Group. Their mission was to round up as many dinosaurs on Isla Nublar as possible and relocate them somewhere safer.
Unlike some of the men around her, Claire was both emotionally and intellectually intelligent. She knew exactly how to read subtle signals from another person and adjust her behaviour accordingly. I try to avoid picking favourite characters in my reviews, but she was the lynchpin of this film.
James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood
Sir Lockwood was one of the two people who originally invented the cloning techniques that brought dinosaurs back to life approximately twenty-five years before this tale began. He was as brilliant as ever, but his attention to detail had begun to waver due to his deteriorating physical condition.
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Maisie was Sir Lockwood’s granddaughter and heir. She had inherited his love of dinosaurs and science.
Rafe Spall as Eli Mills
Eli was Sir Lockwood’s personal assistant who required Owen and Claire to join the dinosaur rescue mission. He was an intelligent, ambitious man who was cautious about who he trusted and how much information he shared with them about his work.
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Franklin was a former IT Technician for Jurassic World who now worked with Claire at the Dinosaur Protection Group. His technological knowledge was excellent, and his quirky personality brought a dash of humour to the plot.
Daniella Pineda as Zia Rodriguez
Zia was the paleoveterinarian for the Dinosaur Protection Group.
She did a wonderful job of thinking on her feet in a crisis. Along with Franklin, she was a character I wish had been given more opportunity to shine in the plot. What I saw of their personalities was well-developed, and I loved the way they interacted with the rest of the rescue crew.
Ted Levine (centre) as Ken Wheatley. The characters behind him are his fellow mercenaries.
Ken Wheatley was a season mercenary hired by Eli Mills to provide protection for the rescue crew while they were rounding up dinosaurs.
He was a tough, assertive man who felt most comfortable when he was in charge.
B.D. Wong as Henry Wu
Henry was the head geneticist of both Jurassic World and the original Jurassic Park. There was no one in this universe who knew more about dinosaurs than he did.
One of the most interesting things about this film was how many different conflicts it included. The first quarter of the show were spent introducing the characters, explaining a few things about the first Jurassic World flick, and seeing how various characters reacted to the idea of saving the dinosaurs instead of letting them go extinct again.
No sooner was this conflict resolved than a few more took its place as the plot sped up. This was a cycle that happened multiple times during the roughly two-hour runtime, and it occasionally made me feel like I was watching a series of short films set in the same universe instead of one long one. This was something I grew to like quite a bit once I recognized the pattern.
The humour in this film was well done, especially when it came to Franklin’s lines. I mentioned earlier wishing that he and Zia had been given more screen time, and this was a big part of the reason why. They both had quietly lighthearted approaches to their roles that worked nicely for the subject matter.
Obviously, this is an action and adventure movie, so keep that in mind when reading this paragraph. One of the things I didn’t like was how little attention was paid to character development. Would I expect characters in this genre to have rich inner lives and dozens of minutes apiece to explore then? Of course not, but I would have liked to see more examples of people stepping out of the boxes they’d been places in.
The plot was fast-paced and filled with exciting explosions and scuffles, but the characters were a bit too predictable for me. There’s a difference between following the tropes of a specific genre and being chained to them. I did find my attention wandering at times due to how quickly I figured out what would happen to which character, and I’m saying that as someone who enjoys this genre in general. This was something I noticed the most with Ken Wheatley and Henry Wu.
With that being said, I still had a good time watching it. The CGI and animatronics for the dinosaurs was excellent as usual, and I loved seeing how various species reacted to everything from seeing a human to being captured to encountering lava. How a carnivore reacted to these things was nothing at all like a herbivore’s reaction. What made it even more interesting was seeing how members of similar species responded to the same stimulus. Those scenes were clearly thought out and a lot of fun to watch, especially if Owen was involved in any way.
The ending was handled nicely as well. I liked the resolutions that were brought to certain conflicts as well as the new questions Fallen Kingdom asked that will hopefully be answered in the final instalment of this trilogy.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is available on iTunes.
15 Responses to A Review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Sounds fun! I haven’t seen this one, but I love the original Jurassic Park and I thought Jurassic World was an enjoyable action flick. I am glad that they dinosaurs still look good. I was afraid that they’d go too far to the unbelievable CGI side of things, when having physical dinosaurs present was part of what made the first movie so amazing.
Yeah, they did a great job with the dinosaurs. They looked pretty believable.
Great review. I’ve seen it a couple of times. They do have the same trope in all the movies.
Thank you. Which Jurassic Park/World film have you liked the most so far?
Great review Lydia.. although I disagree with one of your earlier points, and my computer is not letting me quote it. The one about people not being worried if they haven’t seen the original Jurassic Park.
Yes they should be worried. They should turn on their TV and rent it right away! It’s one of the best movies ever. (<– I'm not kidding. It's really high up on my favorite movies list. Sometimes I turn it on just to keep me company.) No.. not necessary to know that story to understand this one.. it's just a movie I think everyone should watch!
lol- sorry I couldn't resist. Glad you enjoyed it!
Haha! I can’t argue with you there at all. I just don’t like to assume that everyone has seen movie X or make people feel weird if they haven’t.
Good review, makes me want to watch the films again! 🙂 There are definite tick-the-box tropes that feature in the films including the original trilogy. But still fun.
Like you, I enjoyed the characters of Franklin and Zia, especially Zia, her dry delivery was a good counter to most everyone’s screaming panic. Wish they’d had more screen time.
I particularly enjoyed the scenes with the dinosaurs at Lockwood’s home in the second half. Watching it on the big screen added to the suspense.
There’s that one scene, as they were leaving the island, obviously unable to take all the dinosaurs with them, that I could have done without. My boys and I agreed it was emotionally unnecessary. Having said that, looking forward to the 3rd film 🙂
And, yeah, that scene was totally unnecessary. I didn’t know how to write about it without going into spoiler territory, but it should have been cut.
Did you like the original Jurassic Park movies, too?
Glad you knew exactly what scene I meant, didn’t want to mention it.
I enjoyed the original trilogy, especially the first one, that’s the best overall, in my opinion. Watched it in the cinema and the audience reaction was great, really added to the whole experience! The second one was fun enough, I liked the humour. But the third was the weakest.
I wanted to enjoy this as much as I did the first movie, but it didn’t quite reach those heights for me. The ending though, certainly will have me watching the last installment out of sheer curiousity!
Yeah, the ending was great. I hope you like the last instalment better!
Great review, Lydia, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I agree with another commenter: The first Jurassic Park movie is a must for everyone! I was not a fan of this one though, so many things that could have been avoided but weren’t because of character choices just grated on me.
Thank you. Do you think you’ll be watching the sequel to this movie?
I have to admit that I’m finding it more difficult to believe, with each film, that people are still making the mistake of thinking messing around with dinosaurs is a good plan! XD