fallen kingdom spoiler review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.)

Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The fifth entry in the Jurassic Park franchise, and the follow-up to 2015’s Jurassic World, doubles-down on all the elements that made the previous film unpleasant, while adding a few twists and turns. Director J.A. Bayona does his absolute best to breathe life into this weak, rushed story. But a few stellar visuals aren’t enough to rescue this film from itself.

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Trailer Breakdown

That Power Is Out Now

In 1993, Steven Spielberg changed the face of blockbuster filmmaking with Jurassic Park. Spielberg took Michael Crichton’s technobabble and worked it into a monster movie with heart. Jurassic Park was movie magic at its finest – a combination of amazing filmmaking and cutting-edge special effects, both working together in harmony. There would be bigger blockbusters to come, but few big spectacle films have the heart and soul of Spielberg’s glorious dino-flick.

And then it all went wrong. When I think of the Jurassic franchise as a whole, I think back to one of the quieter moments in Spielberg’s film. After the dino-shit has hit the fan and characters start turning into T-Rex chow, park creator John Hammond sits down to have himself some ice cream. The power outage at the park is causing the tubs of ice cream to melt, and Hammond has them all laid out on a long dining table like an extra-sweet take on the Last Supper. Paleobotanist Ellie Sadler joins him at the table, and there, Hammond recounts the earliest attraction he ever created: a flea circus he ran at Petticoat Lane. The circus was, of course, all an illusion – tiny motorized amusements to fool kids into thinking they were seeing actual fleas on parade. “But with this place,” Hammond says, “I wanted to show them something that wasn’t an illusion. Something that was real…” Ellie tries to counter that none of that matters now, and Hammond, not really hearing her, goes on: “Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it’ll be flawless.”

“You never had control!” Ellie shoots back “That’s the illusion! I was overwhelmed by the power of this place. But I made a mistake, too, I didn’t have enough respect for that power and it’s out now.”

In a sense, Spielberg has become the real-life John Hammond, and the Jurassic franchise is his powerful monster that he lost control of. And that power is out now in the world he created, and it’s been conjuring up subpar sequels ever since.

I’m a realist. I know that no Jurassic sequel can ever recapture the awe and wonder of that original film. But gosh darn it, if these sequels must exist, do they have to be so stupid? In 2015, Colin Trevorrow revived the franchise with Jurassic World, a film that both served as a sequel and a fresh start. The film was a dinosaur-sized hit, ending up as the fifth highest grossing film of all time. But fans were less-than-thrilled with Trevorrow’s film, some going so far as to call it an abomination of sorts.

My own take on Jurassic World was mixed. I don’t think it’s a good movie, but I didn’t loathe it like many of my peers. I looked at Jurassic World as the Jaws 2 of the series. Spielberg’s Jaws is pretty much a perfect film – smart, funny, scary, tightly-wound, and well acted to the extreme. It’s the best example of what an intelligent blockbuster could be. Jaws 2, in contrast, was a slasher film. It was a big, dumb horror flick where instead of teens being menaced by a zombie in a hockey mask, they were attacked by a shark. Jurassic World followed this slasher mentality: the “slasher” was the Indominus rex, and the humans were the clueless victims. It was stupid, sure, but here’s the thing: the film never once seemed like it was trying to be something more. Trevorrow appeared to be embracing the B-movie nature of his script, and that made it all a bit more palatable.

Which brings us to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a sequel that is somehow better and worse than its predecessor. What Fallen Kingdom has going for it is J.A. Bayona. Bayona, director of the horror film The Orphanage, took over directing duties from Trevorrow, and what an improvement that is. From the first frame of Fallen Kingdom, it’s apparent how much better Bayona is than Trevorrow. The man really knows how to compose a shot, and he makes great use of lighting and shadow – one of Bayona’s favorite running gags in this movie is having dinosaurs appear out of the darkness when they’re illuminated by a flash of lightning or a burst of flame.

Unfortunately, Fallen Kingdom still has Trevorrow’s involvement – he wrote the script with Jurassic World co-writer Derek Connolly. So all the script problems Jurassic World had are carried over into Fallen Kingdom. And to add insult to injury, Fallen Kingdom commits the sin that Jurassic World avoided: it becomes a movie that thinks it’s smarter and more clever than it really is. Jurassic World was trash that knew it was trash. Fallen Kingdom is trash that thinks it belongs in a museum.

In order for any franchise to grow, it needs to take risks. It needs to cover new ground, and take its story into uncharted territory…while also remembering where it came from. A great recent example of this is Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which takes huge risks yet still remains true to the spirit of what Star Wars is. Fallen Kingdom, in contrast, takes a torch to everything that came before it. It’s a hearty “fuck you” to anything you liked about the Jurassic franchise as a whole. Trevorrow and Connolly literally want to burn Jurassic Park down and scatter the ashes to the wind. It’s not a coincidence that the tagline for this film is “The Park is Gone.”

I’m all for change. I’m all for new ideas. But the approach Trevorrow and Connolly take here is downright cruel. I can still recall the wonder I felt watching Spielberg’s Jurassic Park on the big screen in 1993. With Fallen Kingdom, Trevorrow and Connolly take that wonder and chuck it into the garbage. It pissed me off to no end, and made me bemoan the fact that Trevorrow will still be involved with Jurassic World 3. Why is he in charge of a franchise he so clearly does not understand? It’s baffling and depressing.

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About the Author

Chris Evangelista is a staff writer for /Film. He's contributed to CutPrintFilm, RogerEbert.com, Nerdist, Mashable, and more. Follow him on Twitter @cevangelista413 or email him at chris@chrisevangelista.net