Sometimes, works get so canonical that they serve as the culmination of their art form.
Just like The Matrix closed off cyberpunk forever, Alien should have closed off the monster horror genre. Instead, each decade has attempted to reinvent Alien, with variable success: Aliens is a masterpiece, while Prometheus is best forgotten. As different angles get explored, it becomes increasingly harder to bring anything new to a genre.
The Jurassic franchise is nearing that point, which might explain why Fallen Kingdom appears to frantically try on several dresses in succession and in the end deciding it wants to be all of them.
After a very short introduction that could be summarized as Jurassic PETA, the following segment tries very hard to be Jurassic World: Dante’s Peak, where we barely get a new glimpse of Isla Nublar before it’s covered in volcanic ashes.
In some portions, the editing shows that the filmmakers really wanted to fast-forward this bit: in one shot, a character is lying on the ground in an untouched forest, and on the next shot, a river of lava is already at his feet, without any transition in-between. We’re not here to stare; we’re here to run.
Then the movie quickly switches to Jurassic World: Noah’s Ark, with a dozen gigantic animals crowded in an impossibly tight space with only the most perfunctory regard shown for their well-being. While this sequence has an important plot function (it helps the raptor Blue form an emotional bond with the specific humans who are risking everything to save her life), it relies on too many contrivances and, particularly, on the disguise abilities of a computer expert who should never have come to this mission in the first place.
Then follows the most complicated part of the movie, which, like the titular Indoraptor, is an unholy amalgam of too many other sources, which could be dissected individually as: the shady-foreigners-attend-a-mass-destruction-weapon-auction subplot (Jurassic World: Diamonds Are Forever), the befriend-a-killing-machine subplot (Jurassic World: Iron Giant), the snatch-corporate-control-from-the-young-heir subplot (Jurassic World: Batman Begins), and the help-the-animals-escape-mistreatment subplot (Jurassic World: Chicken Run).
The viewer’s effort to process all the things happening in this section consumes so much brainpower that the dramatic revelation about Maisie’s true origin, which should have been a game-changer for the entire franchise (let’s sort-of-spoil it as Jurassic Moon and leave it at that), instead barely registers amid all the running, exploding, and human-munching.
The final sequence proves why Fallen Kingdom should have been divided into at least twenty different movies. We have a breakneck succession of the murderer-chasing-you-through-the-house subgenre (Jurassic Halloween), the dangerous-experiment-escapes-the-lab subgenre (Jurassic Elfen Lied), the eaten-surfers subgenre (Jurassic Jaws), the humans-have-to-coexist-with-the-monsters subgenre (Planet of the Dinos) and, in the post-credits scene, the monsters-take-the-big-city subgenre (Jurassic Gremlins 2).
Rather than making one single film that tried to cover all possible scenarios for dinosaurs to be exciting and scary, the filmmakers should have been more patient and given us one measured dose at a time.
Indeed, it would have been more interesting and rewarding to watch one entire movie focused entirely on escaping the volcano, another focused only on infiltrating and defeating the evil weapon buyers, another about protecting a city from a raptor pack, another centered in a big mansion haunted by a reptile during an ominous thunderstorm, and so on. But those possibilities are now moot, because as soon as a future director attempts to make any of those movies, the first (and definitive) objection will be: we already saw that in Fallen Kingdom.
You can’t push a franchise forward if you’re trying to move in every direction at the same time. By attempting to expand its universe all at once, this film has actually nipped its future growth.
Securing a solid continuity will be a challenge, because the following installment in the Jurassic franchise has a large number of dangling threads to choose from. We need to know what will happen to the few dinosaurs that got sold, how they will be used, how they will rebel, and what our heroes will do to rescue them.
Another crucial plot point still unaddressed is how the raptor weaponization program will be used in warfare (as well as what dinosaurs the enemy may have bought to face them). Finally, the cities that are now preying ground for escaped dinosaurs will probably arm themselves, perhaps with weaponized dinosaurs of their own, to repel the invasion of the human-eating beasts (but the topic will have to be handled with extreme care lest it unwittingly serve as a horrendous political metaphor).
One event, however, must not happen until the end of the franchise: the punishment of Dr. Wu. His continued, irresponsible meddling with the laws of nature has meant the gruesome deaths of dozens of people since the 1990s. His demise in the form of dinosaur lunch is more than deserved, but as satisfying as it would be to watch his creations get a sample of his DNA, his position as top mastermind (and the only guy who knows how to grow more abominations in the lab) demands that he makes a Bond villain escape in every movie until the studio decides it’s had enough money.
So it’s likely that the next movie will focus on the threatened cities, with Dr. Wu maneuvering his way into a government contractor position so he can sell more killer dinos to repel the loose killer dinos, while Owen brings his own trained dinos to protect civilians from the first two groups of bad dinos. If it sounds too much like Jurassic World: Suicide Squad, maybe we should expect a big magical beam piercing the sky.