It’s been 25 years since movie audiences first saw awe-inspiring dinosaurs come to life in Steven Spielberg’s classic film – Jurassic Park. Yet, five films (and possibly counting) later, studios are still making movies about the inevitable bad situations that will happen when large, once extinct dangerous creators are brought back to life.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the latest installment in the franchise and is out in theaters now. Taking place four years after the Jurassic World theme park closed, heroes and anti-heroes alike return to save the dinosaurs from extinction after a once-dormant volcano threatens all life forms on the island.
However, as with all movies involving dinosaurs and humans - things get complicated…
To help sort out whether Jurassic World’s story holds up, we turn to film contributor Ryan Jay. "I think Jurassic World is the first film since (the original) directed by Steven Spielberg that really honors that one in terms of tone, theme, and emotion," he says.
While the scale and numbers of dinosaurs are not as present as in the first Jurassic World, Jay says there is much more suspense and action in Fallen Kingdom. "I love a PG-13 movie that plays almost like a rated R in tone, so this is a must-see for me."
Although Jay admits that the same plot of using dinosaur DNA is constantly being recycled in these films, whether a movie is successful or not truly depends on the quality of the story and its direction.
"I think that there is a bit of tiredness to that, but I think that the stories keep coming back well and the casting is so good," he notes. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are part of a bigger ensemble piece in Fallen Kingdom, explains Jay, along with some new characters played by Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, and a breakout performance by Isabella Sermon.
"The new cast members really freshened up and brought some very needed levity and also heart to this," he adds.
Although there is a lot of debate of the overall quality of the film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a prime example of a summer movie that can attract audiences. The film is full of fantastic visuals and effects, says Ryan, but "the one theme that will always play, no matter how many times it repeats itself, is the corruption of greed in the human spirit." We'll just have to wait and see how audiences respond to the common themes to indicate whether there will be a third act to the Jurassic World franchise.
"I certainly hope to see another one," says Jay. "This sets up a very interesting and potentially crazy, huge sequel."
Film critic Ryan Jay is a nationally syndicated radio host, resident reviewer on Channel 4’s The Morning Blend and Saturday News.