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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review!

Jurassic Jondee here at the Lockwood Estate,

Every Jurassic film has a question of why it should exist and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has an answer. It continues the story from the first Jurassic Park (1993) to Jurassic World (2015). The screenwriters are Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly. Both of whom worked on the screenplay for Jurassic World which Trevorrow directed. This film is directed by J.A. Bayona whose last film, A Monster Calls (2016) was not impressive, but his previous film, The Impossible (2012) was a masterwork. Fallen Kingdom ranks at the top of that scale, fun with great tension, all the while moving the Jurassic story forward.

There are moments that are reflective of Jurassic Park, but given a twist. Next, there are scenes spoiled by the trailers, but the interesting part is they don’t spoil the rest of the scene which is equally tense. The trailers might make one think that it is centered around the volcano about to erupt and bring down Jurassic World, (this would be heartbreaking to Big Island residents with Kilauea’s eruption, the movie was filmed in Hawaii), but this only covers the first act. It is also interesting that Fallen Kingdom brings sympathy for the dinosaurs as animals.

One of my favorite Dinos is the Stygimoloch, nicknamed Stiggy, with the bone skull and spikes at the back.  Literal bone heads cracking skulls, which strikes me as hilarious, now given the spotlight here. So let’s get into it, minor spoilers ahead!, the movie picks up three years after the closure of Jurassic World. We get a two person bathysphere entering the underwater gated pen with scattered bones. They discover the skeleton of the Indominus rex on the sea floor and slice a bone from it to send up as a ballon to the stormy sea.

The bathysphere is swallowed up by the giant Mosasaurus. The sample is retrieved by a helicopter and one of the mercenary group is trying to close the gate. The mercenaries in the helicopter scream for a tech to move and he is chased by the T-Rex, but he is able to reach the ladder dropped by the helicopter. The T-Rex grabs hold of the ladder. It looks like the dinosaurs are about to break free from the island. A senate hearing debates over rescuing the dinosaurs now in danger from the volcano. We of course have the return of Dr. Ian Malcolm played by Jeff Goldblum. He testifies that there is a danger of unleashing the genetic Pandora’s Box and says that the dinosaurs should be left to be taken out by the volcano.

This is monitored by the office of the Dinosaur Protection Group which is working to rescue the dinosaurs. Handling the phones and computers are Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith). I think Pineda’s character is great, headstrong, and important as a paleoveterinarian, being able to give medical care to dinosaurs even though she hasn’t seen one in person. Webb is expert at tech, but fearful with just about everything, he is still interesting enough to keep the tension. They are working for Claire Dearing played by Bryce Dallas Howard, no longer wearing all-terrain high highs, she followed up Jurassic World with the charming remake of Pete’s Dragon (2016).

She is contacted by Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) who is working for Benjamin Lockwood, a former partner of John Hammond, the owner of Jurassic Park. She is driven to the Lockwood estate in Northern California and is met by the housekeeper, Iris, played by Geraldine Chaplin. She has an incredible career in film including Bayona’s The Orphanage (2007). Iris takes Claire to see Eli in a hallway that is like the Smithsonian Natural History Museum with dinosaur skeletons flanked by dinosaur statues in a window environment.  Eli explains that this was built before Hammond’s Jurassic Park and that labs that unlocked the dinosaur genetic code are beneath the museum. This film is a paleontologist’s dream and also a nightmare really bringing up the question of if were possible to revive extinct prehistoric animals out of the past, then the cost might be too high.

They are introduced to Benjamin Lockwood played by longtime genre vet, James Cromwell, who voiced Robert Callaghan in Big Hero 6 (2014). Lockwood explains that there was a falling out with Hammond that was reasonable. Eli shows Claire that the dinosaurs on Isla Nubar have trackers, which he says can be moved to an island where they can be safe, but they need help with Blue. Claire goes to find that help of course in the form of dinosaur behaviorist Owen Grady (Pratt). He is busy working on constructing the framework of a cabin. She brings up that Blue is in trouble, but Owen is fixated on which one left their relationship. At a bar, Claire laughs off that he was the one who left, and it looks doubtful that he will join the expedition.

The plane is about to take off, Claire meets Zia and Franklin, and then finds Owen waiting for them. They land safely at the abandoned park and meet with the mercenary in charge of the operation, Ken Wheatley, played by Ted Levine, who is currently in The Alienist. Still, he may be remembered for playing the serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Here he is ruthlessly efficient and has a habit of ripping a tooth out of dinos for trophies. In the Jurassic World park, Zia is awed by the lumbering appearance of an Apatosaurus which represents the beauty of these creatures. Franklin is able to open the door and restore park operations with Claire’s hand print.

They have found the dinosaurs’ trackers and Wheatley’s team has already captured some dinos by the docks. At the Lockwood Estate, Eli’s daughter, Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) sneaks in the museum to surprise Iris. Maisie has all of the cleverness of Bran Stark, slipping in and out of places, though there is a twist to her character that I didn’t quite understand. On the island, Zia goes with Owen to find Blue, and Franklin monitoring the trackers from the base. The saving of dinos is a part of the film, but also exploiting them for money or even more sinister purposes in the form of the new genetically engineered dino using the DNA of the Indominous rex, the Indoraptor, the latest creation of Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong).

The true purpose of Eli Mills is found in Mr. Eversol played by Toby Jones. He wants the captures of the dinos to put them on auction for international bidders. Owen and Claire have to deal with the consequences of training dinos and running the park. They have to find a way to survive the volcano, including using a Gyrosphere from the previous movie, and get past dangers like a dinosaur stampede. The threat of the volcano is a usual trope of dinosaur films like One Million Years B.C. (1966). One of the best parts is the twists on the first Jurassic Park with Maisie chased by the Indoraptor and ultimately trying to hide from the Monster Under the Bed.

I also have to address critics’ disappointment with the story. If you are not taken into the movie from the island scene, then yes, you may not like the story and characters. I was and so taken with the tension that I had my hands bunched to my mouth. There is a short after credit scene, but it is almost left over from scenes shown at the end of the film, not essential unless you want to see everything from Fallen Kingdom.  I didn’t see it in 3D, but there are certain scenes that would be great in that format. I also loved the score by Michael Giacchino which was running in my head well after the film. This is summer entertainment and a fun entry to the Jurassic movies!

Four Indominus rex Bones out of Five!

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