Movies to Watch With Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

We never got a Jaws 5. Not really. There’s the Italian knockoff Cruel Jaws that wanted people to think it was part of the franchise, but it’s a million nautical miles from counting. So we stalled out at Jaws: The Revenge. Way to go, humanity.

It’s easy to forget how wild it is that, decades after the initial adventure, the other Steven Spielberg franchise about prehistoric beasts transforming family dramas into horror films has made it to a fifth entry. Welcome…to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

A little rundown: Spielberg made the first two, Captain America director Joe Johnston did the third, Colin Trevorrow rebooted the fourth film as the start of the modern trilogy, and now a man known equally for horror and big-scale disaster, J.A. Bayona, is up to bat.

Turns out that’s a good combination of genres to have. With a volcano about to blow on Isla Nublar, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) head toward danger to save the dinosaurs from a second extinction.

Will they succeed? Will life find a way? What movies will you watch with it?

The Devil at 4 O’Clock (1961)

An alcoholic priest played by Spencer Tracy and a convict played by Frank Sinatra only have until 4:00 P.M. to save a group of children stricken with leprosy off an island where a volcano is ready to blow. No, they do not make them like they used to. I also love that you could have switched the roles and still come away with an awesome movie.

The special effects are still impressive over a half-century later, and Tracy is at the top of his cantankerous game in this old school blend of SilenceDante’s Peak, and Suicide Squad (Sinatra and the other convicts agree to help save the kids in exchange for lower sentences).

The Impossible (2012)

Instead of dinosaur security experts, it’s a vacationing husband and wife (Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts), instead of a fictional volcano, it’s the real-life 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and instead of dinosaurs, they’re trying to rescue their two children and a future Spider-Man. The Orphanage was the movie that put Bayona on the map with its creeping tone of dread and rebuke of easy scares, but The Impossible proved he had real range.

There’s fear, sure, but the most prevalent emotion throughout this big disasterpiece is oppressive powerlessness. This overwhelming act of God, a wave the size of a city, is headed straight for you, and you know you can’t outrun it. Although, filming people running from natural disasters is Bayona’s thing at this point.

Dracula (1979)

The connection here is obvious: sharp teeth.

Or because Bayona specifically cited the Frank Langella-starring version of the vampire story (Skeletor as Count Dracula!) as inspiration for the Gothic horror aspects he’s injected into Fallen Kingdom.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but there’s a serious connection between Dracula and the dinosaurs of the Jurassic Park: their allure. That’s what made the original Jurassic Park so incredible. That blend of attractive danger. Awe-inspiring beasts that could hilariously sneeze on you or rip your head and torso from your legs. We’re running for our lives, but not before taking a good long look.

King Kong (2005)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom shares its structure with King Kong in that it’s two stories. There’s the thrilling adventure to the exotic island to secure the spectacular beasts followed by the confrontation of real evil (exploitative human greed) once everyone is safely back home.

You can take your pick of Kongs, but I chose Peter Jackson’s remake because it more closely resembles the kind of blockbuster mode Fallen Kingdom is operating in now. Movies respond to the trends of their respective times, and we were already seeing a big push for huge action sequences to invade movies every 10-15 minutes back in 2005. It almost makes me want to watch them simultaneously even though, you know, one is an hour longer than the other.

Into the Inferno (2016)

Who do you trust most to take you to the edge of the liquid hot magma? Why, Werner Herzog, of course!

Herzog travels through Asia, Africa, and the Arctic to document active volcanoes, recognizing in them the same destructive beauty as, say, Dracula or a herd of dinosaurs flocking this way. It’s profoundly fascinating, the visuals are unsurprisingly astounding, and it has a lot to say about humanity’s wrangling of forces outside our control.

My Pet Dinosaur (2017)

The Jurassic movies ask us to imagine a world where we share our space with thunder lizards. Maybe they’ll attack us. Maybe they’ll spit acid on Jerry Seinfeld’s neighbor. Maybe they’ll merely crush our vehicles and personal property.

Or maybe we’ll be best pals. If life’s going to find a way, let’s at least look on the bright side. This harmless Australian adventure from writer/director Matt Drummond wouldn’t exist without Amblin. It’s E.T. with a dinosaur, complete with the big bad governmental entity trying to separate it from its loved ones. Imagine that.

The Mix

What’s a Jurassic Park movie without the park? By heading out into the World, the franchise is trying to answer that question. The Lost World: Jurassic Park gave us a taste of what that might look like by setting a T-Rex loose on San Diego for a hot minute, and Jurassic Park III offered another tease when Dr. Grant wryly noted in the last shot that a group of pteranodons were looking “for new nesting grounds.”

Two movies later, it feels like we’re finally on the cusp of a new movie that will slam dinosaurs and people together outside the water-bounded confines of a tropical island. The question, then, is whether we’ll be running from them, trying to save them, befriending them, or hiding in a volcano with Werner Herzog.

These are our only survival options.

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