Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Raises The Stakes

(L to R) Owen (CHRIS PRATT), Franklin (JUSTICE SMITH), Claire (BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD) and Zia (DANIELLA PINEDA) try and save Blue in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom."

Three years after the Indominus Rex caused chaos, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom raises the stakes with moral questions of ethical behavior.

Bookended by Dr. Ian Malcolm in what amounts to an under-five minute cameo, the film is about what to do with these animals after geneticists have brought them back to life.  Leave it to Malcolm to give his piece of mind while testifying in front of a U.S. Senate committee–using dialogue that, for the most part, was originally written by the late Michael Crichton.  There’s a whole lot to be said about what Malcolm means to not just the film but the franchise in general.  If the choice were left to him, he would undo the madness that John Hammond started so many years ago.  But this isn’t the same world.  It’s a whole new one–one that has living and breathing dinosaurs.

Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) runs the Dinosaur Protection Group.  Having a life or death experience will certainly impact one’s life.  She doesn’t come off as career-driven but she still means business.  Unlike Malcolm, who likely hasn’t been back since 1997, Claire wants to save their lives.  Nobody could blame her.  The question is where do you take these prehistoric creatures?

This is where Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) comes to save the day.  It turns out that Lockwood was John Hammond’s business partner leading up to Jurassic Park.  Only the two didn’t see eye to eye when it came to cloning so they broke it off.  It feels like it’s a bit of unnecessary backstory for a previous film but serves to move the plot forward.  Lockwood owns a private island where the creatures would be free to roam without fences, cages, or tourists.  This is a win-win situation for everyone!  So what could possibly go wrong, right?

While the tracking technology does make it easier to track, Blue is going be the hardest.  This is where Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) comes in hand.  Claire may be needed to get the system up and running but Owen has the bond with Blue.  Coming along for the ride are former park technician Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and paleo-veterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda).  Franklin and Zia could not be more different. It’s a shame that they cut the scene featuring Zia talking about her sexuality.  Blockbuster films shouldn’t be so simple-minded when it comes to these things.  They need to be inclusive!

Once they arrive at Isla Nublar, which could blow at any minute, the team is met by Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine).  He’s not unlike Roland Tembo from The Lost World.  While the similarities to first sequel are there, the stakes are far higher.  For these dinosaurs, it’s life or death!  The reality is that not every animal is going to be able to get off the island.  They’ll be lucky if they can save eleven of the species.  For Wheatley, Blue is his number one priority.

After Claire and Franklin get the tracking system up and running, it’s up to Owen and Zia to find our favorite raptor.  Where is she but the old T. Rex paddock with the old tour’s Ford Explorer right where it was left after falling from the free.  The car is among a number of other easter eggs that call back to the previous films.  One of which is a scale model of the original park in Lockwood’s mansion.

Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), who runs the Lockwood Foundation, has other things in mind.  He’s working with Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) to create the next generation of the Indominus Rex.  This direct descendant is an Indoraptor.  After the sucess of Owen’s work to train the velociraptors, they see the possibility of a whole new era of military-trained predators.  Where Lockwood wants to rescue the dinosaurs from certain extinction, Mills wants to auction them off for money.  People never learn their lessons, do they?  How did the sweet, innocent Henry Wu become so cynical to create hybrids for money?

During The Lost World, John Hammond sent a team to document the animals who survived on a different island.  His nephew, Peter Ludlow, had other plans: bring the animals back and open a park in San Diego.  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom‘s third act compares to the predecessor except for the fact that the animals are contained to the Lockwood Estate.  If there’s anything we’ve learned from this franchise, someone is always looking to make money.  If it’s not Dennis Nedry, it’s Vic Hoskins and Henry Wu.  In this case, it’s Eli Mills who gets the duty of being a sleazeball in disguise.  Oh, is he ever!

Michael Giacchino’s score brings the return of our favorite Jurassic Park melodies.  With all the gloom and doom on the island, it does feel a bit somber.  The nostalgia is still there nonetheless.

While Colin Trevorrow didn’t return to direct, his footprint is all over the film in a script co-wrotten with Derek Connolly.  It’s not short on philosophical questions.  They ask the question of how to treat prehistoric creatures who are being sent to their deaths of we do nothing.  None more important than what Claire represents.  It shows just how much Claire has grown in the last few years.  There are a few lines of thinking here and that’s who do you wish to emulate–Malcolm, Dearing, Lockwood, Mills, or Wu.  Now that they’re back, we can’t just sit and watch them die.  It would be inhumane given the circumstances.

Without thrills, adventure, and wonder, the Jurassic franchise just would not exist.  J.A. Bayona takes over as director and leaves his own imprint on the series.  He gives us thrills and takes us to places we’d never dream of in a million years.  It’s an imprint in which Trevorrow will follow up in another three years from now.

While there are some unanswered questions about Isla Sorna, which gets name-dropped, new questions come up.  It’s crystal clear that the Jurassic franchise will never return to Isla Nublar.  This film sets up some possibilities for the next film in the franchise.  Until now, both humans and dinosaurs have never lived together.  Now we’re set to find out what will happen in that regard.

The moral questions notwithstanding, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t without some political moments.  The TV newsfeed contains some political opinions of its own, including a president that “questions the existence of dinosaurs.”  The film makes us question the ethics on misusing science.  It’s because of this that mankind, greed, and capitalism serve as a villain in a way that’s different from the Indoraptor.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom takes us to new heights.  The question that we ask ourselves now is where do we go from here?  It’s a whole new world now that it truly is, as Malcolm so kindly puts it, a Jurassic World.

DIRECTOR:  J.A. Bayona
SCREENWRITERS:  Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow
CAST:  Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, BD Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, and Jeff Goldblum

Universal Pictures opens Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in theaters on June 22, 2018.

Jurassic World 3 is set to open on June 11, 2019–the 28th anniversary of Jurassic Park.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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