Fallen Kingdom: My First Impressions

I just got back from seeing the fifth Jurassic Park movie for the very first time! I’ll write plenty more in the weeks to come, but here are my initial thoughts. There are many, many spoilers here, so DO NOT proceed if you haven’t already seen the movie. You’re really going to want to go into this one and be surprised.

  • So, about that ending: the implication, I believe, is that the third movie will feature carnivores eating people in the wild and needing to be tracked down, or at least it will in the beginning. I was too busy losing my mind over Rexy and the carnotaur to notice how many pairs there were within species and therefore how many dino species are at risk for breeding in the wild. I did at least see two+ compies and two pterosaurs out in the wild, so those at least will probably start breeding and spreading.
  • I’m glad Blue didn’t die, I’m glad Rexy didn’t die, and I’m glad they didn’t put Rexy in a zoo.
  • That said, the scene with the brachiosaur dying was absolutely brutal. Especially when it hit me that a brachiosaur standing on its hind legs is both the first and last thing we ever saw on Isla Nublar.
  • This was chock full of little references that were put there specifically for us JP fans. The shot of the compies that panned up to the trucks driving through the jungle– that was right out of The Lost World, as was the “great white hunter” line about Wheatley. Franklin saying “thanks, dad” just like Nedry was pretty funny, and his “hacking” and rebooting the park system reminded me of Lex. Owen getting dino snot all over his face was a nice callback too.
  • I’m only a little surprised that they went with Owen and Claire being parents together. I knew their romance would continue, and these movies have always been about parents, so it’s only fair that Owen and Claire would take on the role of parents to Maisie. I’m glad they didn’t continue with the “Claire needs to have maternal instincts and must learn to love kids” thing. She took care of Maisie because it was the right thing to do.
  • As far as the romance went, it surprisingly didn’t feel too forced. They were back to bickering as soon as they saw each other, and there was no sappy “stay together for survival” moment at the end. Claire sleeping on Owen was cute. The kiss felt a little forced, but tensions were running high at the moment.
  • There were a ton of cinematic parallels to Jurassic World, especially Claire approaching Owen, panning up on Claire from her heels, and Blue’s roar at the very end. I think that was done both as a poetry thing– “it rhymes” just like the Star Wars movies– but as almost a comforting thing too, showing us familiar scenes within a very unfamiliar scenario for the franchise. JW and JWFK had a lot of the same bare-bones framework, but different things happening within them.
  • Ultimately, this really felt like a transitional movie. Like I’ve been saying for a while, its job is to bridge the gap between the island plots we’ve always had until now, and whatever will take place on the mainland. The reason there were so many callbacks and parallels is because of how many new things were being done. Especially during the mansion sequences, I kept thinking just how alien it felt to have the climax of a JP movie taking place inside a building in England. But just because it felt really different doesn’t mean it’s bad. Whether this was the re-invigoration the franchise really needed, time will tell.
  • Trevorrow described JW3 as a Crichton-type science thriller, and the only way I can envision that happening is if the plot revolves around the DNA that was recovered and brought away in the suitcase at the very end. I guess they’re going to be cloning dinosaurs again– maybe even making new dinosaurs to help hunt down the ones that have escaped. I mean, they did specifically mention dinosaurs in combat. Maybe that’s still a possibility.
  • Speaking of Crichton, I loved Ian Malcolm’s quote directly from the first novel! The one about sudden change being a part of life! Though it was short, I’m extremely happy with Ian’s part in the movie. He’s giving eloquent arguments, he comes across as genuinely impassioned and not majorly traumatized, and he gives reasons for letting the dinosaurs die other than “kill ’em with fire, they’re gonna eat as many people as they can” etc.
  • My dad thinks that Maisie’s cloning brings back the possibility of human-dinosaur hybrid cloning. I don’t think that’ll happen, but I think that human cloning being introduced to the franchise is very intriguing.
  • Eli Mills, like Peter Ludlow, made me genuinely hate him as a villain. We’ve certainly never seen a JP villain straight-up murder someone with their own hands before. The shot of Lockwood’s cane shattering afterwards was a little heavy-handed but effective.
  • Having the Indoraptor killed the way it was– that was sort of underwhelming, but there was no way they’d ever top the final fight at the end of JW, so they might as well go for poignancy instead of spectacle. Having her destroy all those dinosaur models in a symbol for how her creation destroyed the paradigm of “typical” non-hybridized dinos, and then having her get impaled to death on one of those very symbols– now that was good.
  • This really brought the scale of horror from the big to small, in a very dramatic way. The big scary reveal wasn’t “someone stole some bullets and that means we could seriously all die” or “the raptors are much smarter than we thought and so we could seriously all die”. It was “cloning is a lot more powerful and insidious than we originally thought, and you were brought into this world much differently than you thought you were”. Having Mills try to talk down Claire and Owen by saying “you don’t know what she is” felt cheesy at first, but then it hit me as clever. Mills doesn’t see the dinosaurs as living creatures because they’re man-made, they’re cloned. He applies that same world view to people. Meanwhile Owen and Claire realize the inherent value of life regardless of how it was brought about. Especially with her “I had to do it, they’re alive, just like me”, Maisie is tied in with dinosaurs in a pretty fascinating way.
  • “King’s English, girl!” is how I will correct people’s grammar from now on.
  • Wu’s part blew me away. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to seeing him, but when he first appeared, yelling at Mills, I jumped for joy. I’m also glad he still has a sense of ethics (“you can’t sell this animal […] they’ll make more”) instead of being all-out villain.
  • There was a recurring motif of doors opening and closing, which was intriguing. Probably a symbol of new possibilities being opened (dinosaurs in the wild) and concepts disappearing (Isla Nublar, hybrid dinosaurs).
  • With the way the movie ended, it was pretty bold of the trailers to show both the mosasaur in the wave AND Rexy roaring at the lion.
  • That lion is so dead.
  • It’s been confirmed that there were at least two batches of raptor babies that were cloned, so Charlie being the youngest despite her name being second in the raptor pack order makes sense now.
  • Having Blue be the new Indoraptor’s mother and guiding its behavior was a particularly smart move, and it shows that Wu does acknowledge that the dinosaurs’ nurture does have a part in their behavior, and not just their nature of being meat-eating beasts.
  • Maisie reminded me a lot of Kelly with her tendency to sneak and eavesdrop, how smart she is, and the parallel of the Indoraptor sniffing her while she hid in her bed, just like the rex sniffing Kelly as she slept in her tent. That just makes its death even better– impaled on horns, just like that raptor was impaled after Kelly kicked it.
  • Indoraptor didn’t get a redemption at the end like I thought he would, and my previous point about behavior does make him more sympathetic, just not to the characters. I don’t think that negates my previous points about him creeping curiously into Maisie’s room, though. In my next viewings I’ll keep an eye out for more signs of it being curious and only acting so aggressive because of being prodded and treated like a monster.
  • Having the dinosaurs loaded onto the ship, especially after running away from the volcano in pairs, was a good Noah’s Ark parallel. It’s especially potent after the “act of God” comment.
  • The movie was pretty effective as a horror flick in the second half. It hit a lot of the same notes as monster movies, especially the part where Zia released Blue. It just didn’t scare me a lot because I’m not afraid of Indoraptor.
  • The island segment didn’t feel pandering. Having the overturned Jeep from the first movie was enough, and having the lava burning away the Jurassic Park logo was enough to get it across that we’re really seeing Nublar being destroyed forever. Seeing the brachiosaur walking through Main Street was the only moment of childlike wonder in pretty much the entire movie, and that’s okay because it’s not supposed to feel like a Spielberg movie.
  • The opening scene was gorgeous. My queen the mosasaurus killed it again and I’m so proud of her. Having both Rexy and the mosasaur attack that guy was a bit much, and I think the opening should’ve just involved the mosasaur, but it was well-shot and felt extremely Jurassic. I loved Rexy roaring at the helicopter as it left, as if to say “Get the hell out and stay out! I’ve had enough of your kind!
  • The part on the island didn’t feel like as much of a big deal as it should’ve been; I wasn’t sitting there screaming “They’re going back! We’re gonna see Rexy again!” or anything. They just got in a little plane, got in and got out. Again, that’s okay. This isn’t a movie about dinosaurs chasing people on an island. Especially in the two brachiosaur scenes, there was enough emotional impact. I want to say it didn’t feel like a complete enough goodbye to Isla Nublar, but we got that in the last movie.
  • Franklin was genuinely hilarious (“We’re not compatible”) and while he’s clearly supposed to be The Millennial and the self-insert for young people in the audience, he was still fun to watch. I liked his unironic “I’m in”, like a 90s movie hacker.
  • Zia was also a genuinely enjoyable character, and her banter with Franklin was great. The “nasty woman” line was a bit forced, but I guess you gotta put at least one timely joke in these things.
  • I’m going to have a field day doing animal behavior analysis about the baby raptor squad scenes. Delta seemed to have a well-honed killing instinct from a pretty young age, and it’s weird that she’d attack her caretaker when he showed weakness. Also, obviously, those scenes were cute as hell.
  • I’m sort of worried that they’re making the dinosaurs too anthropomorphic, with Blue and the Indoraptor’s distinct personalities and the whole “she shows empathy” thing. Raptors were established to be pretty smart in JP3, but Blue and the Indoraptor are very human-like (especially the way Indoraptor smiles before he kills Wheatley) in a possibly unprecedented way.
  • There is now canonical precedent for a JW rip-off movie called Jurassic Attack: Dinosaurs in Vegas. I’ll probably write that fanfic at some point.

Well, overall, I enjoyed Fallen Kingdom. I think it shouldn’t have been advertised as “THE BIGGEST ACTION-ADVENTURE BLOCKBUSTER OF THE SUMMER” and it’s a lot more enjoyable when it’s viewed as a quiet, creepy, TLW-spiritual-successor, artistic reimagining of the Jurassic franchise. It’s very much a transition between the JP movies we’ve always known, and the future. A lot of individual moments made me cry and scream, but the overall picture is haunting and full of possibilities. Be sure to let me know in the comments and on Twitter what you thought of the movie, and also, go on social media and thank the cast, crew and director for the beautiful job they did!

We got to enjoy a new Jurassic Park movie today, and I’m so grateful I got to watch it in the company of the greatest and most supportive fandom I have ever been in. Thank you to all of my readers, followers and friends. You’ve taken these dinosaur movies and used them to build something absolutely magical.

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4 thoughts on “Fallen Kingdom: My First Impressions

  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I know most of the spoilers.
    The twist regarding Maisie kinda made me facepalm when I found out about it (I don’t think it’s BAD, my facepalm was just more of a “oh c’mon, you’re really going there?”) but overall the movie seems like one I’d be able to enjoy.
    I like to think that the Mosasaurus will pretty much just be unbeatable in movie number 3. Like, they’re gonna try tracking and subduing her and all that, but then eventually rage quit when nothing works and just be like “You know what? Forget it. Have fun with your oceanic all you can eat buffet!”

    Like

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