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Jurassic World: Dominion Movie Review

Jurassic World: Dominion (2022) movie poster
Jurassic World: Dominion

Theatrical Release: June 10, 2022 / Running Time: 146 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Colin Trevorrow / Writers: Colin Trevorrow (story & screenplay); Emily Carmichael (screenplay); Derek Connolly (story); Michael Crichton (characters)

Cast: Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler), Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm), Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant), DeWanda Wise (Kayla Watts), Mamoudou Athie (Ramsay Cole), BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Omar Sy (Barry Sembene), Isabella Sermon (Maisie Lockwood), Elva Trill (Charlotte Lockwood), Campbell Scott (Dr. Lewis Dodgson), Justice Smith (Franklin Webb), Daniella Pineda (Dr. Zia Rodriguez), Scott Haze (Rainn Delacourt), Dichen Lachman (soyona Santos)

 

There has been no live-action blockbuster released in my life as perfect as the original Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg's 1993 adaptation of Michael Crichton's bestseller has everything you could want in a big summer movie: an enormously intriguing premise and setting, indelible characters, exhilarating action, state-of-the-art visual effects, and even some intelligent and thought-provoking commentary. Whereas many other '90s thrill rides that held similar goals and attracted similarly large crowds -- like Independence Day and Twister -- have lost their appeal, Jurassic somehow only gets better with age, its award-winning visual effects inexplicably continuing to enchant more than most of the digital wizardry that's come since.

Love for the original film mixed with the standard twenty-year nostalgia cycle led to 2015's revival Jurassic World being a $1.7 billion worldwide phenomenon. Colin Trevorrow's requel leaned heavily on Spielberg's original and had enough to it to permeate pop culture as few non-Marvel movies have in recent years. 2018's inevitable sequel, co-written by Trevorrow but directed by Spain's J.A. Bayona and subtitled Fallen Kingdom, was not very good, but moviegoers were willing to pay to find that out for themselves as the movie still pulled in another $1.3 billion globally.

Trevorrow returns to the director's chair for Jurassic World: Dominion, the third entry in this series and sixth installment in the Jurassic universe at large. Whereas his previous film was filled with little homages to Spielberg's Park, and Bayona's sequel secured a Jeff Goldblum cameo, this one goes further still, bringing back Goldblum and his '93 castmates Sam Neil and Laura Dern for essentially leading roles.

It wouldn't be a Jurassic World movie without Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) calming down a velociraptor.

It's evident that the nostalgic approach here is not merely an intriguing layer, the way that having past Spider-men and foes resurface in No Way Home was. No, the returning characters of Ian Malcolm, Alan Grant, and Ellie Sattler are needed to flesh out and reinvigorate a franchise that has not kept us engaged and invested. There is too much money on the table for Universal to abandon what has become one of the commercial cornerstones of the studio alongside the Fast and the Furious and Minions.

Trevorrow and his new co-writer Emily Carmichael (Pacific Rim: Uprising) try their hardest to not make Dominion just another Jurassic movie. Bayona's installment broke with convention and this one takes strides not to simply rely on dinosaurs in the wild complicating the days of tan-clad heroes of science and principles. Dominion takes inspiration from westerns and seemingly Spielberg's non-Jurassic movies. There are Indiana Jones vibes and Jason Bourne vibes. What is missing is something narratively or visually to keep you compelled.

The plot sees Maisie (Isabella Sermon), the now-teenaged clone being raised by raptor whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), abducted along with a miracle raptor baby born to Blue. Meanwhile, Ellie and Alan accept an invitation to Biosyn Genetics, the flourishing rival of Jurassic Park's parent company InGen. They are there to listen to a speech by Ian Malcolm, who for a healthy fee has bought in on Biosyn's mantra of using science to improve life for the dinosaurs who now coexist with mankind.

Twenty-nine years after the original "Jurassic Park", Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) are more or less asked to pick things right back up where they were.

Also, a plague of locusts spreading around the world has some contemplating the end of days. But Dominion shows greater interest in more relatable conflict and set pieces. Owen and Claire encounter Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise), a streetsmart American aviator and capitalist who reluctantly agrees to help reunite them with Maisie. The other big new personality introduced here is actually a minor villain from the original Jurassic Park: Lewis Dodgson, who is now the charismatic, eccentric CEO of Biosyn. With the original actor having been imprisoned for sexual assault, Dodgson is capably played by Campbell Scott, who seems to have taken cues from figures like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk.

Goodwill for the original film can only take Dominion so far. It resists accepting its place as mindless summer action, but that's still the only way to categorize it. Goldblum gets several laughs late in the film as once again being the voice of reason amidst improbable, uh, chaos. Trevorrow provides a reckoning for the Ellie and Alan romance and, in doing so, drew audible applause from certain swatches of my advance screening crowd. It's a testament to the lasting power of Spielberg's masterpiece that relatively minor aspects of it (like a passing nod to the electrified fence or a glimpse at cinema's most iconic shaving cream can or, once again, B.D. Wong) can still elicit a meaningful response nearly thirty years later. It's also quite puzzling and concerning that plot points raised within the Jurassic World series do not resonate to any major degree here (sorry, Omar Sy).

It is open to debate whether you classify these three installments as its own separate trilogy or as simply the back half of the Jurassic universe. Either way, though, the recent trio of movies has never remotely approached the lofty heights of the original and frequently fallen below the more modest achievements of The Lost World and Jurassic Park III. A husband-wife duo that contributed to the Jurassic World script came here from the 2010s Planet of the Apes trilogy and it would have been great if these movies could have been as rich and entertaining as those unlikely triumphs. But it makes sense that the new Jurassic films fall short.

I've previously compared Jurassic Park to The Wizard of Oz, as a technical marvel whose story and characters inspire great passion and resonate for the ages. Like various post-1939 Oz projects we've seen, the Jurassic World sequels may get a few things right and strike an agreeable tone of homage. But there's just no way to recreate the magic.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Top Gun: Maverick Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Jurassic World Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Jurassic Park
Directed by Colin Trevorrow: Safety Not Guaranteed The Book of Henry

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Reviewed May 21, 2022.



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