The Jurassic Park franchise is 25 years old, spanning a total of 5 movies with one more on its way. I understand the weariness of some people when it comes to the franchise. One could make an argument that there shouldn’t have been a sequel, but we got several whether you enjoy them or not.
Fallen Kingdom has recently been released in theaters and I really enjoyed the film. It’s not without its problems, because there are several to point out, but I’m here to talk about what it did right and accomplished.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Spoilers
Early in the film, we discover that the volcano in Isla Nublar, the island home to all the remaining dinosaurs in the world, is active and is ready to erupt. The government is having a debate on whether Dinosaurs have the same rights as an endangered species and deserve to be protected. Jeff Goldblum’s character Ian Malcolm makes an appearance at hearing summarizing that they are creatures before our time and since there time has passed, we should let nature take its course. As tragic as it may sound, I agreed with that statement. There wasn’t much in Jurassic World, outside of the raptor Blue that made me care for the dinosaurs as much.
So now the film asks us this question and takes us on an adventure to determine the answer. I did not expect to care for any dinosaur, nor did I expect to be glad that the dinosaurs survived in the end. Throughout the film, we discover that dinosaurs are like any other animal. Yes, we all knew this from Jurassic Park, but director J.A. Bayona does an amazing job at giving specific dinosaurs a personality trait that almost humanizes them, allowing us to empathize with them. The film gives us the closest thing to that sense of awe and wonderment from the first Jurassic Park.
When the volcano is erupting and our protagonists are about to fall over the ledge, you see a triceratops stop by the edge, look back at the oncoming smoke and lava, and makes the choice to either jump (or fall gracefully.) It’s a creature that thinks; then there’s the heartbreaking scene of brachiosaurus watching the boat leave, only to be covered in smoke as it roars in anguish. Then there’s the adorable ‘Stiggy’ the Stygimoloch, better known as the head-butt dinosaur who rams his way through the black market dealers. I haven’t even mentioned Blue and her time as a baby dino, how she’s able to show empathy and gather other raptors to follow her commands.
These moments are what make the ending emotionally satisfying to me. Part of the film follows the young girl Maisie, the granddaughter of Lockwood. From the moment we meet her it’s already established that she has a love for dinosaurs. When you’re surrounded by Dinosaur bones and exhibits as a kid, it’s hard not to. Towards the end of the film, it’s revealed that she was a clone (I’ll talk more on that) and while some may say that she only saved the Dinosaurs from captivity and death because they were like her. Granted that is true, but she’s had a fondness for dinosaurs since the beginning and even if she weren’t a clone, I firmly believe she’d release all the dinosaurs. When they all run wild and free, I didn’t think about the destruction they would cause to peoples lives and homes, I only thought of them as animals escaping captivity, finally freed.
Fallen Kingdom did something different to the franchise by being one-half action/adventure and the other being thriller/horror. I enjoyed the characters more and the dinosaurs are always the best part. The film leaves a very open-ended ending that’s just waiting for a sequel, the only question is where to now? The franchise has not shied away from being rather cartoonish and going ‘out there.’ Somehow they managed to make a dinosaur film fit into a gothic setting and make it work (in my humble opinion.) They’ve already created 2 new species of dinosaurs and with the introduction of Maisie as a clone, I can only guess that we might have a humanoid dinosaur for the sequel. It sounds outlandish, I know, but they were in earlier drafts of Jurassic Park 4. Also, writer and director Colin Trevorrow have stated that he has read the script and has drawn inspiration from into Jurassic World.
Whether you liked it or not, Fallen Kingdom has placed the franchise in a new direction. Who knows where they’ll take it, but it should follow the example of Kingdom on expanding and enriching the real stars of the franchise, dinosaurs.
*Thumbnail by Marie Garduño!