Franchise Expansion (Or Implosion)- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

by Ben Martin

Franchise Expansion (or Implosion) is a column that looks at franchises that have new installments or releases forthcoming. In looking at a franchise, each entry in a franchise will be given a review and then be examined as part of the bigger franchise. (i.e., Was this sequel a worthy expansion of this franchise or was it an implosion of sorts?)

This time around I’ll be examining the Jurassic Franchise! The fifth installment in the series, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is in the theaters now. Appropriately so, that is the film I will be looking at today. How does Fallen Kingdom impact the rest of the franchise? Read on to find out!

Three years ago, Jurassic World (2015) revitalized a franchise that was thought to be extinct. Oddly enough, this result was achieved by re-engineering the series to a certain degree; using the DNA strands everyone loved. From there, the film expanded upon those beloved elements to bring us something new. If you think about it, the filmmakers used the same approach that the scientists of Jurassic Park (1993). To that end, World became one of the biggest hits of that year.
Thus, it’s no surprise that another installment is now in theaters. Once again, taking the Summer movie season by storm. Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly (of the upcoming Star Wars, Episode IX) return to pen the screenplay where the story picks up three years after the events of the last picture. The remaining dinosaurs on Isla Nublar are on the brink of extinction as a volcano on the island nears eruption. With the clock ticking, inGen recruits Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to lead a small team to save what’s left of the island’s prehistoric inhabitants. However, things take a turn when our protagonists find that there is a darker and more elaborate plan afoot.

Like many of you, I experienced a bit of a sinking feeling when I saw the trailers for this movie. From the outset, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom looked similar to The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). Well, that’s because, in many ways, the two sequels have vast commonalities. In fact, much of the first half of the film in review plays like The Lost World 2, with one crucial difference. Fallen Kingdom manages to maintain a sense of fun and majesty, for the most part. Much of this is thanks to the filmmakers understanding that those elements of whimsy are essential to this series. Plus, we’re once again watching likable characters (returning and new) dealing with dinos.

Now, it’s in the second half of Fallen Kingdom becomes something different. Moreover, it becomes something we’ve never seen in a Jurassic picture before. The second half of this picture is part bug-nuts idea, part gothic horror. And frankly, whether you can get on board with that or not may make or break this installment for you. Personally, as I long time fan of the franchise, it took me a moment to adjust to the narrative once its twist occurs. Once I was able to do that though, I was able to get caught back up in the fun of it all.

Throughout the entire picture, both the cast and new director J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) shine. Everyone in the cast is bringing there all to this movie. Then there’s Bayona, who brings a fresh tone to the film. Trevorrow was initially slated to direct and co-write Fallen Kingdom but chose to go direct Star Wars, Episode IX instead. (Though that the directorial turn in “A galaxy far, far away,” never came to fruition.) In any event, Bayona finds the perfect balance for this fifth installment. The director brings that Spielbergian magic while injecting horror into the movie’s latter portion.
Despite all the fun I had with Fallen Kingdom it is flawed. You see, while the screenplay works, the architecture of it is a bit shaky. When it comes down to it, chunks of the story are built on convenience and a little contrivance as well. A prime example of such include a volcano on Isla Nublar which we’d not been made privy to in any previous installment. Then there is the character of Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). A character who had never been referenced before, but according to the film, played a significant part in Jurassic Park’s history. This is quite blatant retro-continuity; but I was able to let it go ultimately.

When it comes down to it, Fallen Kingdom is a B-movie made with A-movie craft. While the twist and the second half may not work for everyone, I personally enjoyed it. So what if the movie becomes a bit nuts? It did so well and was very fun to watch such a can of nuttiness initially. Now, is Fallen Kingdom as good as its predecessor? No, not in my opinion; but it is good. More to the point, by going into such new and somewhat silly territory, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a Perfect Franchise Expansion!

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to see dinosaurs in Jurassic Space or anything like that. However, there’s no doubt that this franchise will continue. Not only does this flick’s conclusion set the sixth installment up; Universal has already announced that installment will hit theaters in Summer 2021. Pratt and Howard will be reprising their roles and Trevarrow will return to direct and co-write this final part of the so-called Jurassic World Trilogy. Personally, I’m looking forward to it. I only hope that Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) might return in more than a cameo capacity. In the meantime, see Fallen Kingdom; just suspend all disbelief at the door!


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