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‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ (review)

It’s already a sign of the end when chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm is the voice of reason.

As he lectures a group of young scientists at the sleek and high-tech BioSyn headquarters (longtime rivals of InGen, original creators of dinosaur cloning), no one seems to notice his increasingly straightforward criticisms that our hubris will destroy us all.

But in the three decades since the opening of Jurassic Park, who has ever had dinosaur DNA in the palm of their hands and listened to these warnings? Sixth time is surely the charm, right?

Welcome to Jurassic World: Dominion, a lackluster finale that hopes good will and nostalgia will cover up a clumsy plotline, weak performances, and varying levels of CGI competence. The finale to the long-running franchise is set four years after the disastrous events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom unleashed dinosaurs into the general population, and Maisie Lockwood mysteriously disappeared into the night.

As a snappy NowThis News video catches us up, cohabitation has not been the easiest feat as prehistoric creatures chase children, decimate crops, and nest atop the Empire State building. Those creatures who do not make it to the BioSyn-managed reserve in the mountains of Italy are increasingly sold and traded in underground markets.

There are many paths to follow here, from the original novel’s environmentalism lens to scientific exploration to the dangers of unchecked capitalism and unfortunately director Colin Trevorrow (who shares writing credits with Emily Carmichael and Derek Connolly) tries to go down all of them.

The original crew of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum return to follow the “scientific hubris” storyline that anchored their appearance in the original, while the new school of Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard cover the “capitalism and poaching” angle.

Neither story gets the attention it deserves, alternately rushing and dragging through the longest runtime of any movie in the franchise. Each could have been a compelling 150 minutes, but instead we have two half-baked attempts with an odd mix of puppetry and CGI that cannot keep a consistent quality throughout the fight and chase scenes. An initial interaction between Pratt’s Owen Grady and a parasaurolophus is nearly flawless while several of the high-action Malta scenes are lacking, even against earlier films.

But it’s not just the effects that have gotten less engaging in the new age. Pratt and Howard cannot hold a candle to the chemistry and warm fuzzies that longtime fans get from hearing Goldblum’s droll one-liners or seeing the rekindling of our favorite paleontologist ship. It has been a criticism from the start but when placed side-by-side in the same movie, the lack of joy in the new cast is glaring. The classic crew also has the edge of better writing in their turn as dino wranglers. With that said, I assure you that no one is turning in their top franchise performance here (though Howard’s character arc across the trilogy deserves a nod).

Jurassic Park is at its best when we are reminded of our frailty and the threat of dinosaur attack is the main driver of character movement. Sure, Dennis Nedry’s greed in smuggling dino embryos for BioSyn set off the events in the original, but all the focus was on the prehistoric threats –  not the human ones.

In the original Jurassic World, Claire says “Nobody is impressed by a dinosaur anymore”.

If anything, this series has proven that the least impressive thing is actually the humans around them.

* * * * *
Produced by Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley
Screenplay by Emily Carmichael, Colin Trevorrow
Story by Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Based on Characters by Michael Crichton
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum,
Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, Omar Sy

 

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