The first reactions to the highly anticipated sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom have come rolling in from press who attended early screenings, and the response is a bit divided. Some folks (including yours truly) are praising lots of peak dino action and an improvement from Jurassic World, others say it can’t quite capture the magic of what makes Jurassic movies great, and some are flat out calling it the worst of the franchise. Safe to say, this movie isn’t going to be for everyone, but it’s sparking up a lot of passionate responses across the spectrum.
2015’s Jurassic World was the fruition of years of development on a fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise, and the Colin Trevorrow-directed “sequelboot” exceeded all expectations to the tune of $1.6 billion worldwide. Trevorrow co-wrote the follow-up with his Jurassic World writing partner Derek Connolly, but J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) stepped into the director’s chair as Trevorrow was busy developing Star Wars: Episode IX (a film he ultimately departed).
Fallen Kingdom takes place a few years after the events of the first movie and finds Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) returning to the now abandoned Isla Nublar to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from a brewing volcano that threatens to make the animals once again extinct. But their expedition is not what it seems, and after uncovering a conspiracy, Owen and Claire find themselves in a race against greed, corporatism, and murderous dinosaurs.
Bayona was actually the producers’ first choice to direct Jurassic World, so he was a logical pick to step in and take the helm of the follow-up. So how are the reactions so far?
Here, working from a script by the last pic’s Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, Bayona not only nods to the histories of classic monster movies and the legacy of original Jurassic helmer Steven Spielberg; he brings his own experience to bear, treating monsters like actual characters and trapping us in a vast mansion that’s as full of secrets as the site of his breakthrough 2007 film The Orphanage. Audiences put off by some dumb characterizations in the last film have much less to complain about here, while those requiring only some spectacular predators and exciting chase scenes should greet this outing as warmly as its predecessor.
Director J. A. Bayona (“A Monster Calls”) goes through the motions of these scenes, even staging a “hiding from dinosaurs” set piece that was the most memorable section of Steven Spielberg’s original “Jurassic Park” movie from 1993. But what was exciting and scary then feels expected and very hackneyed now.
The movie culminates in a dinosaur auction scene that carries echoes of “King Kong,” but it just makes you wish that the air of poignance surrounding the creatures were more sustained. At this point, a “Jurassic” movie needs its dinosaurs to be both victimized innocents and giant-teeth-gnashing predators, and there’s something hackneyed and opportunistic about the facile (if not mindless) way that “Fallen Kingdom” switches back and forth between those two modes.
Forget directors jail. For his crimes against movies, Colin Trevorrow should be bound so he can’t do any further harm to once amazing franchises or the fans who loved them. Though not at the helm of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the hand of Trevorrow, the filmmaker who brought us the sexist, dumb, and repellent Book of Henry and Jurassic World, is felt. As co-writer and executive producer, Trevorrow shaped a sequel so criminally stupid that it should kill this abysmal franchise for good.
Director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) has a way with striking, monstrous visuals, and Fallen Kingdom has a few. (It also has one extremely clever “chase” scene involving Chris Pratt trying to outrun a wall of lava.) But the plot mechanics by writers Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow (who also directed Jurassic World) needed to get from Isla Nublar to the Lockwood home are so laughable, as are any number of events required to bring about the slasher film-style chaos of the third act, that they repeatedly undercut the movie’s thrills. This isn’t just a film you need to “turn off your brain” to enjoy; nothing less than surgically removing your brain from your body would do the trick.
It’s a brave choice to literally blow up everything that’s come before but one that definitely pays off in Fallen Kingdom. While Jurassic World gave us a lovely self-contained story, Fallen Kingdom leaves us wondering just where the series will go for its third act – as long as Stiggy plays an extensive pivotal role, I’ll be absolutely fine with it.
As a diehard JP fan it’s frustrating watching the series go deeper into CG-heavy, outlandish territory but as far as sheer entertainment value goes, #JurassicWorldFallenKingdom satisfied me enough. Funny thing, it’s the material I was most skeptical about that I enjoyed the most.
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) June 5, 2018
Here’s the real tea: I absolutely fuck with #JurassicWorldFallenKingdom. Went in not expecting much and had a BLAST. The first act is a killer. The Dino action is on point. Bayona directs the shit out of his set pieces, embraces pulpy absurdity and runs with it. Here. For. It.
— Haleigh Foutch (@HaleighFoutch) June 5, 2018
(i dug THE ORPHANAGE, and think it’s theoretically kinda neat that Bayona tried to make a haunted house movie with dinosaurs. and it’s always great to see super talented actors like Bryce Howard and Toby Jones do their things in IMAX. but please kill all the dinosaurs now please)
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) June 5, 2018
#JurassicWorldFallenKingdom has more action & dinos than its predecessor, beginning w/ an absolutely exhilarating first half that’s better than the entirety of JURASSIC WORLD. The second half is more intense and ambitious and sets up a massive stage for part three pic.twitter.com/QnsdZvldMC
— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) June 5, 2018
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM left me exhausted and sad and eager to see the dinosaurs just kill everyone and be done with it.
— Kate Erbland (@katerbland) June 5, 2018
Didn’t love Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. There are some good ideas early on but they never grow into anything, and it’s missing the majesty of the franchise. I liked the first one more.
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) June 5, 2018
I did like Jurassic World better. Villains in the sequel are groan worthy and I’m not sure I’m on board for where this franchise is headed but I’m curious to see where the third film goes. — Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) June 5, 2018
My #JurassicWorldFallenKingdom review:
Blue the raptor finds a way… INTO MY HEART
@ me dino-bros
— jen yamato (@jenyamato) June 5, 2018
— Kristian Harloff (@KristianHarloff) June 5, 2018
#JurassicWorldFallenKingdom is imperfect and a ton of fun. I dig the new characters and hope they stick around.
The movie expands on the first in interesting ways and is pretty much what I wanted in a follow up. Can’t wait to see it again.
— Chris E. Hayner (@ChrisHayner) June 5, 2018
#JurassicWorldFallenKingdom is a spectacular sequel that looks back when appropriate and then proceeds forward at a breakneck speed, transforming the franchise in unforeseen ways. One tiny complaint: not enough Goldblum.
— Max Borg (@IMDBorg) June 5, 2018
Bayona, you mad bastard, you’ve done it again. #JurassicWorldFallenKingdom
(There is, however, a moment that rivals “Han… SOLO” for its cheesiness.)
— Rebecca Pahle (@RebeccaPahle) June 5, 2018
during a touching moment between a human and a dinosaur, I leaned over to @EJ_Endick and said “I hope she eats him” and that’s what the entire movie is like
— Emma Stefansky (@stefabsky) June 5, 2018
#JurassicWorldFallenKingdom is fun, it’s full of adventure and it’s scary af – in the best way possible.
Also, make no mistake, the dinosaurs are the star of this movie
— Molly Freeman (@mollyrockit) June 5, 2018
#JurassicWorldFallenKingdom was much, MUCH better than the last one.
— Daniel R (@DanielRPK) June 5, 2018