**This review contains SPOILERS.**
After teasing Jurassic Park III audiences with a Tyrannosaurus rex temporarily running amok in San Diego, it appears the dino franchise is finally going global. Jurassic World is no longer just a tropical theme park gone wrong, it's the new reality. At the end of the latest installment, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the dinosaurs hit the mainland. A post-credits scene shows a flock of Pteranodons circling the Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas.
Before we get to the events that lead up to this possible world ender, let's think about what it means. The development opens up oodles of tantalizing possibilities for a franchise many wrote off as dead before this movie even premiered. Dino fatigue was setting in. Perhaps future sequels that find the T. rex eating Tokyo will revitalize the franchise. The days of just making the same movie over and over are seemingly done. Hell, let's just go back to the Stone Age!
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is markedly different from the other Jurassics, a fact which will probably make it a polarizing installment. Director J.A. Bayona has made the first unpredictable Jurassic Park movie and that's enough to make it one of the better sequels.
A few years after the events of Jurassic World, mercenaries head back to Isla Nublar to snag some precious dinosaur DNA, but they leave the tank gate open and the Mosasaurus heads for open water. The planet's marine ecosystems are about to get pulverized and the movie has just begun.
Right from that opening scene Fallen Kingdom raises the stakes. The Mosasaurus escape only foreshadows the film's big event, however. We know the humans of the Jurassic Park franchise, born 25 years ago in Steven Spielberg's first film, are too reckless and stupid not to tempt fate again. That's why we're here, after all. Fallen Kingdom introduces Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), old John Hammond's former partner, to set the events in motion. Isla Nublar is a volcano set to explode and Lockwood wants to move the animals to a new home to save them. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), now an activist, is his woman on the ground.
In a fan-friendly collision of the old and new, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), testifying before a Senate committee, argues the dinosaurs should be left to die. Nature is correcting Hammond's mistake, and we can all go back to how it was: with dinosaurs safely extinct. The committee agrees, but Claire heads off to rescue the thunder lizards anyway. Accompanied by Lockwood's guy Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), she recruits old flame Owen (Chris Pratt) along the way and the team is set.
Bayona, the man behind The Orphanage and The Impossible, is well-versed in creating tension, and his Jurassic movie fits nicely alongside the others in terms of action/adventure. There are several nods to Spielberg, but the movie has its own signature. The film is more concerned with the dinosaurs than the people, making it very similar in feel to movies like King Kong. It's a creature feature in a true sense. The all-star cast is great, but they are secondary and, thus, given little to do besides run for their lives.
After the rescue mission proves to be a front for a ludicrous plan to sell off the dinosaurs, everyone winds up at Lockwood's estate for the auction. Dinos are set loose, a rampage begins, and comeuppances are dealt out swiftly. In the turmoil, we learn Lockwood has a granddaughter who's actually a clone. In a move of spiritual togetherness, the clone girl frees all the other animals and they run off.
This lone act has altered the trajectory of the Jurassic franchise. Free from the island confines of Isla Nublar, the world of Jurassic suddenly has massive scope. Imagine humans and dinosaurs co-existing... Maybe the next movie will be a cop-buddy comedy starring Pratt and Blue the Raptor. Maybe the next one will be set hundreds of years in the future when dinosaurs have conquered the earth and humans have been bumped off the top of the food chain. A post-apocalyptic return to prehistoric times could be filthy.
Whatever happens, the next movie will be just as horrifying as its predecessors. Dinosaurs will be chasing people for lunch. The excitement will come from seeing the animals in the real world. Look for a Tyrannosaurus rex to stampede New York City and crush the Arch in Washington Square Park. Look for the Mosasaurus to take a bite out of the Golden Gate. Look for more monster mayhem, but, next time, in your own back yard.