Jurassic World Dominion
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
The “Jurassic World” franchise has been on a steady decline since revitalizing the franchise in 2015. Nothing was ever going to recapture the magic of the original from 1993, which now seems like a modest, less-is-more film, compared with the five subsequent sequels. Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic World”) returns to finish the series, which must end, as writers have been scraping the bottom of the barrel for two films. Fans of the franchise can’t resist seeing Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Oscar-winner Laura Dern reuniting for the first time on screen in 20 years. But the nostalgia carries “Dominion” only so far, with multiple storylines zigzagging faster than Mr. DNA across the screen. The messy screenplay has obvious producer and studio involvement and rarely an original or unique idea. On the positive side, they have finally realized what an asset the character of Ellie Sattler is and given Dern equal screentime.
After Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) freed the dinosaurs to roam the earth once again, humans are still coping on adapting to this new man-made evolutionary change. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) are living off the grid, trying to protect both Maisie and dinos in their region from greedy hands. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern) is working on a killer mutant locust issue that is quickly depleting crops. Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) has returned to digging, while Dr. Ian Malcolm is working for Biosyn, the company in charge of protecting the dinosaurs. The black market has quickly seized on selling, eating and profiting off access to the dinosaurs. The Jurassic Park and Jurassic World survivors team up to stop the latest attempt to manipulate both animals and humans for profit.
Missed opportunities plague the film more than the giant locusts, who receive as much screentime as most dinosaurs.
It’s taken a while for the studio to realize it’s actually the characters audiences want more than the next big dinosaur. A greater focus on the struggle of people and humanity is a welcome shift. It’s too bad these characters are not given much depth. Adding new background and filling in blanks of the original three, while simultaneously giving Claire and Owen enough to do, gets a bit manic.
It’s also unfortunate for the fans that writers and Universal have used a James Bond carbon copy script for the plot, swapping international villains for dinosaurs. “Jurassic World Dominion” is enjoyable in separate moments, just not collectively. One of the only impressively shot sequences in the entire film involves Howard in water, a fleeting reminder that Trevorrow was once considered a visionary director.
“Jurassic World Dominion” is so preoccupied with aiming to satisfy grown up children of the original, their children who fell in love with “Jurassic World” and fresh new fans that they forget to actually make a decent film. “Jurassic Park” didn’t need a villain, the antagonist was chaos — yet nearly all sequels convince themselves they need a human villain. Missed opportunities plague the film more than the giant locusts, who receive as much screentime as most dinosaurs.
Having the original three characters dressed in the same clothes they wore 20 years ago is where some of the ridiculousness begins, as scenes from previous “Jurassic Park” movies are recreated to fit new circumstances. Despite the running time, the film never finds itself in a lull; it speeds along, jumping around continents, only to end up right back where these films always conclude.
Laura Dern getting equal screentime is great and the nostalgic elements are hit or miss, but an uninspired script leaves much to be desired.