Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

This review contains minor spoilers for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

When Steven Spielberg first introduced us to “Jurassic Park,” moviegoers were mesmerized by the incredible resurrection of the dinosaurs. Not only boasting a thoroughly entertaining and thrilling narrative packed with heart-pounding moments, “Jurassic Park” proved a somewhat thought-provoking film, giving viewers a glimpse into the consequences of scientists playing God. Thinking back to my own childhood afternoons spent watching “Jurassic Park” on VHS, the first film in the wildly successful franchise holds a dear place in my heart.

Twenty-five years later, director J.A. Bayona has brought us the strikingly nostalgic, yet notably melodramatic “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

Set three years after the closure of the Jurassic World theme park, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” begins as a long-dormant volcano on the island of Isla Nublar threatens to wipe out the remaining dinosaurs and send them back into extinction. Officials must decide if these artificially created animals deserve the same protection as any other species and whether they should be relocated to a safe environment.

Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) returns with a powerful and poignant opening monologue about Creation and natural selection, introducing what should have been a meaningful and provoking narrative. Unfortunately, the film relies too heavily on over-the-top action sequences to drive the story forward.
When Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) agree to venture to Isla Nublar to rescue the dinosaurs from the erupting volcano, they realize that they have trusted the wrong people and inadvertently handed the dinosaurs over to exotic animal dealers. Along their journey to recover the dinosaurs they meet near death by lava, drowning, fiery explosion and the obvious, dinosaur attack. With Claire and Owen facing such contrived obstacles one after the other on their mission to rescue the dinosaurs, the overloaded plot of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” becomes distracting and unbelievable, even for a dinosaur film.

The wonderful casting, including the return of some of the favorite familiar faces, enhances the attraction and chemistry of the film overall. Chris Pratt adds a bit of lighthearted humor with his loveable antics as Owen Grady, rivaled only by that of a newcomer to the “Jurassic World” films, Justice Smith as Franklin Webb. Surprisingly, one of the most memorable characters proved to be Maisie Lockwood played by the talented Isabella Sermon in a breakthrough performance for the first-time actress.

What really makes “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” worthwhile, however, is the pure nostalgia it offers. Not only by being released nearly 25 years to the day after the first installment in the franchise, but also by mirroring some of the iconic scenes from “Jurassic Park.” Most notably, and one of my personal favorites, is the scene in which Maisie Lockwood attempts to escape her bedroom through the laundry chute and frantically struggles to pull the door down as a dinosaur lunges toward her. This is an almost exact remake of the memorable kitchen scene from the first film, “Jurassic Park.” Another memorable scene in which Claire, Owen and Maisie are hiding from a velociraptor in one of the museum display cases mimics the scene from the first film in the visitor center dining area when the children spot the velociraptor silhouette behind the raptor display. Because of the sentimentality of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” in its references to the first film, I highly recommend watching “Jurassic Park” before the newest film in order to fully appreciate it.

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” certainly has its flaws, however, it is definitely worth watching. With the unexpected twist in learning Maisie’s past and the glimpse of a possibility that dinosaurs may soon live even closer to home, we are left wondering what the hugely anticipated “Jurassic World 3” may have in store for the franchise.

“Jurassic World 3” is set to release June 11 of 2021.