With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom officially out in theaters, one of the final questions remains: Did the critics dig this dino sequel?
Three years after its 2015 predecessor, Jurassic World, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard have reunited to save the world's prehistoric inhabitants once again.
The film picks up three years after the first film with the world facing a significant crisis—save the dinosaurs from an impending volcanic eruption on Isla Nublar or let them perish in what some argue is nature's course correction after they were first cloned all that time ago.
On the heels of the government's decision to let the dinos die, Howard's Claire Dearing is contacted by John Hammond's former partner, John Lockwood, and learns his plan to relocate the dinosaurs to his own island sanctuary where they can safely live without human interference. However, they need Dearing's help to track them down and she seeks out Pratt's Owen Grady to join their mission.
Once on the island, however, the plan goes awry and the film is turned upside down as Dearing, Grady and sidekicks Franklin Webb (Justice Smith), a former park technician, and paleoveterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) join forces to save the dinosaurs' lives—and their own.
With new director J. A. Bayona, the film also stars Rafe Spall, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B. D. Wong and Isabella Sermon.
Here's what some critics had to say about the sequel:
- "J.A. Bayona feels like the perfect director to take control of Fallen Kingdom after proving he can handle large-scale destruction with confidence but is equally capable of delivering intimate scares. There are echoes of his previous works such as The Impossible (big old natural disaster) and The Orphanage (creepy old secret-filled house) in Fallen Kingdom but more impressive is how it draws on further inspirations like Alfred Hitchcock and Hammer horror style suspense," IGN's Gav Murphy wrote. "The latter is definitely felt throughout the film and Bayona's use of light and shadows to create tension is one of the highlights of Fallen Kingdom. Whether it's a toothy Baryonyx stalking through a tunnel lit by a menacing drop of lava or the claws of the terrifying new Indoraptor illuminated by a child's night-light, Bayona's horror seems classy and rarely resorts to simply jump scares."
- "I like the new Jurassic World movie better than the 2015 edition. Bayona's direction is considerably more stylish and actively mobile than Colin Trevorrow's was," the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips wrote. "Even if nothing quite measures up in this movie, other than composer Michael Giacchino's lush yet subtle orchestral colors, Bayona and his writers wanted to give audiences a different kind of monster movie. That they did."
"Bayona knows why audiences flock to a Jurassic movie and the best thing he does is create a strong empathy for the exquisitely detailed computer-generated dinos," USA Today's Brian Truitt wrote. "The T. rex continues his role of most inexplicable recurring Jurassic protagonist, and one horned dino busts Owen out of a jam before going to town on well-dressed rich folks...More than ever, it's their Kingdom. We're just the empty-calorie snacks."
- "Fallen Kingdom is a more interesting, and less obvious, story than the usual Tyrannosaurus romps, which tend to be death-defying games of hide-and-seek. But you can hear the eye rolls during an 11th-hour twist involving the benevolent billionaire's granddaughter, which is way too philosophical for a film where dudes' heads are bitten off by lizards. Jeff Goldblum, making a cameo appearance as Dr. Ian Malcolm, provides all the high-mindedness we need as he natters on about chaos theory in an early monologue," The New York Post's Johnny Oleksinski wrote. "Regardless, it's nice to see the series back on track. For 20 years it reduced itself to lunkheaded horror and Tea Leoni shrieking to the sky at the expense of its most essential element — the wonderment of seeing a living, breathing dinosaur. In making even the most vicious creatures more than just hungry, hungry dinos, the aging franchise has rediscovered its inner child. And ours."
(E! and Universal Pictures are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)