Foreword: Hi all, Pokesaurus here, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom out, I thought it was high time we made a review of the film for the site as a neat idea and a way to describe the film from a fan perspective. If you would like to see more JP/JW reviews, whether it be the older films or other media, be sure to let us know!
"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is a bit of an interesting film for long-time fans. For many of us in the Jurassic Park community, it's almost impossible to imagine we actually have a "Jurassic Park 5" only three years after spending over a decade waiting for the fourth entry into the series ("Jurassic World"). Yet, here we are in June 2018 with a new film directed by new director J. A. Bayona (of "A Monster Calls" and "The Orphanage" fame) and written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly (who also wrote "Jurassic World"). The filmmakers of "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" made promises of an action-packed first half and a creepy, Gothic-horror second half that would take the franchise in a new direction. Did they make good on their promises? Let's find out.
To begin, let's talk about the direction of the film. J. A. Bayona does a fantastic job in directing the film, particularly in its second half. He shows his horror film chops well by creating a dark and tense atmosphere during the scenes involving this film's new genetic monstrosity, the Indoraptor, and he even manages to extend that fear factor onto some of the less scaly characters in the film. Both the indoor and outdoor shots are very well made, with clever camera work and placement of shadows that exude the Gothic feel of the film. The setting of the second half of the film, Lockwood Manor, only helps further enhance the horror atmosphere of the second half. The idea of being locked in a large, creepy mansion with a terrifying monster stalking you is a classic concept, and the film uses it to great effect. The direction of the first half of the film, taking place primarily on Isla Nublar prior to its volcanic eruption, is also well done, but just not as well done as the Lockwood Manor portion of the film. The shots of the erupting Mt. Sibo are very good eye-candy, and saying goodbye to Nublar one last time is sure to be an emotional experience for many long time Jurassic fans. There are also other shots in the film that serve as callbacks to previous films (more on this later) that will make any dedicated fan happy to see. The biggest issue with this portion of the film, however, is the pacing. While the second half of the film is for the most part well paced, the first hour of this film just simply happens a bit too fast. Certain characters could have been more well developed if they'd been given more time, some scenes are longer than they ought to be, and others far too short. Ultimately the pacing of the film is the primary problem with the film, as there is just not enough time devoted to the buildup to and during the events that take place on Isla Nublar. In general, the film feels like it could have really used an extra fifteen to twenty minutes of run-time to avoid the pacing issues and to better flesh out certain characters.
Speaking of characters, this is another area that, while good, could have been done a bit better. For starters, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing have changed very little since "Jurassic World" and their relationship is essentially reset to how it was prior to the events of "Jurassic World". I do not understand why this story decision was made, as ultimately it changes the outcome of the film very little and they end up back where they were at the end of "Jurassic World" anyways. Owen remains the Action Man figure and Claire's change from capitalist to naturalist in just three years feels less earned than, say, John Hammond's similar change between "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park". And on the topic of John Hammond, a new character this film introduces is Benjamin Lockwood, a former business partner of John Hammond. Benjamin Lockwood surprised me by being a better character than I'd originally anticipated going into this film. Both his motivations and reasons for splitting up with Hammond are interesting, and I'm happy that the filmmakers decided to go with a different route with his character rather than another that likely would have been much easier. Another new character added in this film is Maisie Lockwood, the young granddaughter of Benjamin Lockwood, who also surpassed my expectations going into the film. She is a genuinely great addition to the cast and serves a very meaningful purpose for the film, and it helps that she is also not as annoying as some people may find previous child characters in the film. Eli Mills serves as this film's new primary villain, and while he serves his purpose well, his character does leave something to be desired. He is in many ways an improvement from the almost mustache-twirling Hoskins from "Jurassic World" (though some may have preferred that kind of character), but he likely could have benefited from being more fleshed out. This also applies to Dinosaur Protection Group members Zia Rodriguez and Franklin Webb. While the characters are performed well and their actual time on screen are of no issue, they too were in desperate need of further characterization. We essentially have backstory as to why they're in the Dinosaur Protection Group (aside from Zia's general background as a paleo-vet despite not having seen a dinosaur in person prior to the events of this film), nor why they're so dedicated to the cause or what their relationship with Claire is. Gunnar Eversol, an auctioneer employed by Eli Mills, feels almost pointless in the film, as his character does nothing but create a small conflict with Mills that is resolved almost as soon as it starts. Otherwise he fulfills no other purpose beyond being an auctioneer. Ken Wheatley is an interesting take on a character type we've seen before, that being a Roland Tembo-type character just with darker motives and less honor/humility. He is performed well by Ted Levine and he serves as a more comedic villain in comparison to Eli Mills, and is one of the more enjoyable characters in the film. Ian Malcolm returns for the first time since "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" in this film, and while his return is greatly appreciated and the character's performance by Jeff Goldblum is fantastic, it can't help but be felt that the character wasn't well utilized. His return is essentially a glorified cameo, which many may find incredibly disappointing, and one can only wish he'd played a more active role in the events of the film.
Of course, what is a dinosaur movie without it's dinosaurs, and boy does this film have plenty of them. If you're a fan of dinosaur action, you'll be pleased with this film's use of them. There are plenty of returning favorites such as the Brachiosaurus and Blue the Velociraptor, as well as welcomed new additions such as Carnotaurus and Stigymoloch. The new dinosaurs' designs are very well done and are far more interesting to look at than many of "Jurassic World"'s grayer and blander looking dinosaurs. The new hybrid dinosaur of this film, Indoraptor, is a fantastic monster and it's execution is better than the Indominus rex from the previous film (though the Indominus rex was still a very cool aspect of "Jurassic World". The thing is incredibly formidable, and its heightened intelligence leads to some awesomely terrifying moments in the film. Combined with its sleek look and its use in the Gothic mansion setting, Indoraptor is sure to strike fear in the hearts of many, while also being one of the best creature designs from the franchise. The return of animatronic and practical dinosaurs in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is also incredibly welcome. The animatronics are used well and I'm sure fans of the classic practical effects we saw in the first few films will be delighted by its use in this one. If there is one gripe with the practical effects in this film, it's that at times it felt like they could have been used a bit more. There are a few occasions in the film where the CGI dinosaurs look spotty and likely would have been more visually pleasing had they been animatronic. Aside from those few instances though, the CGI in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is an improvement from "Jurassic World"'s. The dinosaurs get plenty of action in this film, although one must take into consideration that a good portion of the film is primarily dedicated to the Indoraptor. If you are fan of the Indoraptor this should come with no complaints, however those who are not fans of the Indoraptor may be disappointed by its disproportionate amount of screentime.
For those fans that are soundtrack buffs, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" has a soundtrack that is unlikely to disappoint. Composer Michael Giacchino does a fantastic job yet again with his compositions for this film, and the music is used to great effect in the film itself. There are plenty of callback cues from previous films. The theme of the Indoraptor is fantastic and a new personal favorite of mine, and I'm sure many will be delighted to hear it.
The story of the film is definitely a new one for the series, and the ending leaves lots of room for the next (and possibly final) outing in the Jurassic franchise. While many aspects of it are predictable, it's in the execution that the film does a great job (excluding the major pacing issues mentioned previously). There are also some incredibly emotional scenes in the film, and one in particular is sure to leave people in tears. The emotional moments may be one of this film's stronger points, as it does a better job at tugging heart strings than most other attempts in the film series. The film also does good on maintaining continuity with the rest of the franchise, and those fans of "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" will be happy to know it has not been left behind as many had feared due to its events being largely ignored in "Jurassic World". There are references galore in this film to previous films (to a fault in some instances) that are sure to delight fans who have been dying to see the other films mentioned. It will be very interesting to see what route "Jurassic World 3" will take the story of this franchise, as "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" leaves an incredibly large amount of avenues for it to potentially go for.
If you are a fan of the previous Jurassic films, chances are you'll enjoy this film as well. While the film suffers from lack of character development and growth as well as notable pacing issues in the first half, in the end the film is fun to watch and fans at large will have a lot to talk about for years to come. The film is somewhat of an improvement from "Jurassic World" in many regards, and as such those who may have been disappointed by that movie may find this one to be a better experience. The dinosaurs are as awesome as they've always been, some of the new characters were fine additions, the Gothic-horror aspect of the second half is incredibly well executed, and we get a tasteful farewell to the island of dinosaurs we've grown to love.