Jurassic World: Dominion (PG-13)
15/09/22 21:44 Filed in: 2022
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt
Warning! This is NOT a movie review. This is a critique of the film. Intended to initiate a dialogue, the following analysis explores various aspects of the film and may contain spoilers. For concerns over objectionable content, please first refer to one of the many parental movie guide websites. Ratings are based on a four star system. Happy reading!
Believe it or not, Ripley, this is the sixth movie based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel “Jurassic Park.” What’s more, this is the third movie in the Jurassic World trilogy—the supersized spawn of the Jurassic Park trilogy.
Jurassic World: Dominion opens in the same globetrotting manner as Crichton’s original book. From a giant locust swarm in South Texas, to the snow-covered Dolomite Mountains in Italy, to the forested Sierra Nevada Mountains, to the sweltering Mediterranean island of Malta, the movie covers a lot of territory. Sadly, despite its many exciting locations and events, the movie fails to blaze any new territory narratively.
The story eventually brings us to characters we know; Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are raising clone girl Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). Much like Ariel from The Little Mermaid or Hanna from the eponymous 2011 movie and 2019 TV show, Maisie wants to be where the people are. Owen and Claire are overprotective parents, but who wouldn’t be when every tech company on the planet would love to get their hands on Maisie, the first human clone? Oh, and pay no mind the raptors romping through the forest near Owen’s cabin. They're trained.
Jump to a reunion scene with Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). Ellie tells Alan she’s recently divorced—cue the love story. The doctors are invited to visit the top-secret genetics lab, Biosyn (what a pun! Bio-sin, i.e., messing with the natural world is a transgression).
At Biosyn, Alan and Ellie are reunited with another long-lost friend, Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). They also meet the head of Biosyn, Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). You might recall that name from the first Jurassic Park (1993). He’s the one who paid Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) to steal the dino embryos and deliver them in a Barbasol shaving cream can. Picking up this loose narrative thread from the original film is one of the movie’s finest moments.
But the thrill of getting the band back together again soon wears off and we realize that Ian’s quirky sense of humor hasn’t aged well (unlike the svelte actor portraying him). Though the romantic tension between Alan and Ellie is sweet, it’s also terribly predictable with nary a complication to keep us guessing.
And speaking of predictable, the paint-by-numbers plot has a chronic case of ADD—its focus constantly shifts between sets of heroes. Regrettably for Owen and Claire, they’re frequently upstaged by the old guard…in their own movie. Plus, the action scene in Malta looks like it was borrowed from a James Bond movie, only with raptors feasting on tourists subbed in for hero vs. villain shootouts.
One of the central themes of these Jurassic Park movies is the dangers of playing God, and “Genetics Gone Wrong” is front and center in the trilogy capper. Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) is up to his old tricks, creating giant locusts and other DNA-spliced creatures. Hasn’t he learned from his mistakes by now? Whatever the latest catastrophe is involving dinosaurs, you can bet Wu is at the center of it. As Ian rightly points out, “It’s always him!”
Of course, these films wouldn’t keep attracting large audiences without terrifying dinosaurs rampaging through amusement parks and gobbling up humans. Many of director Colin Trevorrow’s sequences draw too much inspiration from the earlier films, i.e., characters trying to hide from a large, carnivorous dinosaur behind an overturned SUV, a la the OG film. Though this movie sees the return of the dilophosaurus, the attack scenes involving these frilled creatures are nearly identical to those in the original Jurassic Park.
Based on Alan’s theory that dinosaurs were more bird-like than reptile-like, some of Wu’s new GMDs (genetically modified dinosaurs) are avian in appearance. Unfortunately, a giant creature with feathers doesn’t evoke the same sense of dread that a “terrible lizard” does.
In the end, even the team lift of old and new characters can’t hoist Dominion out of the swamp of failed creature features. It will go down as the worst of the lot.
However, depending on how current events play out, Dominion’s warning of an impending global food shortage may give it unforeseen relevance.
So, now that we’ve had Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, what’s next? Jurassic Universe?
Rating: 2 out of 4