Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is certainly a game changer for the dino-sized franchise.

The trailers promise a rescue mission to Isla Nublar to save the dinosaurs before the island’s now active volcano triggers an extinction level event, but that’s just for starters. To paraphrase Dr. Alan Grant from the original, you won’t have the slightest idea what to expect.

Three years after the fall of the Jurassic World theme park, the fate of the dinosaurs is a matter for Congress – should they be allowed to continue to exist? Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, returning in a glorified cameo) doesn’t think so, while animal activists – including Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) – lobby to have them relocated to a new sanctuary. Dinosaurs have rights, too!

When the government refuses to intervene on a private enterprise, Claire finds an ally in the late John Hammond’s business partner, Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who bankrolls the aforementioned rescue mission. Raptor whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is also along for the ride in the hope of saving his buddy Blue, as are a bunch of military goons with a hidden agenda. Dodging rivers of lava, fireballs, stampeding herbivores and an angry T. Rex, their chances of survival don’t look good…

To reveal more would spoil the surprises to follow – suffice to say, Fallen Kingdom makes a radical and totally bonkers detour that transforms it into another movie entirely. Splicing disaster film with monster movie and gothic mansion horror, this is the Indominus Rex of the franchise – a mean and unpredictable mongrel that’s like nothing that has existed in the series’ 25-year history.

Spanish director J.A. Bayona opens the film with the best T. Rex attack since the Spielberg original (and recreates some of very same shots) and then boldly proceeds to add elements of his previous films – The Orphanage, The Impossible and A Monster Calls – to the Jurassic formula. Whether or not it works depends on your willingness to surrender to the sheer insanity of what transpires in the movie’s second half.

Some of the plot twists border on the ludicrous, and if you thought T. Rex looked incongruous on the streets of San Diego in The Lost World, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

As crazy as Fallen Kingdom is, there are still series’ staples like a new super predator (meet the Indoraptor) and the token child to endanger (Lockwood’s granddaughter). And the overall message of wielding genetic power with impunity is even more pertinent.

It may not be the best installment since the original, but Bayona deserves credit for delivering the most unconventional Jurassic film of them all, and also the most nightmarish; parents should think twice about taking their youngest to see this during the school holidays.

Oh, and stick around for a brief but amusing post-credits coda.

In cinemas: June 21, 2018
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Ted Levine
Directed by: J.A. Bayona