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OPINION | REVIEW: ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ story is stale with muddied plotlines

Fossilized film by Dan Lybarger | June 10, 2022 at 4:47 a.m.
Water world: Former park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) attempts to escape the jaws of some ferocious prehistoric beast (that may or may not be an Indominus Rex) that has been resurrected through human folly in “Jurassic World Dominion,” allegedly the final film in the Jurassic Park saga.

There's only so much filmmakers can do with creatures that disappeared from the planet millions of years before humans came on the scene. When a tycoon thinks he can get even richer by exploiting the surviving dinosaurs from the failed Jurassic Park, it doesn't take a psychic to realize that no matter how many platitudes he spouts, he'll end up as a dino dinner.

It's tough to follow in Steven Spielberg's T-Rex-size footprints, but his successors in the series haven't figured out how to create tropes involving the ultimate invasive species that don't seem fossilized.

With "Jurassic World Dominion," co-screenwriter and director Colin Trevorrow ("The Book of Henry") has a somewhat intriguing possibility in that at this point in the story, the dinosaurs are no longer simply stuck on a remote island. They share a sort of awkward co-existence with creatures who haven't previously gone extinct. This creates a host of potentially challenging problems.

Sadly, Trevorrow and company never stick with a single narrative thread long enough for the story to come to life. Watching "Jurassic World Dominion" is like watching small children flit between all the objects in their toy boxes. If there's an order or reason for what they're doing, it's never obvious or coherent.

Because the number of prehistoric creatures that can fill out a two-and-a-half-hour movie is finite, "Dominion" unites the cast of Spielberg's original film (Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern and Sam Neill) with the stars of the last two installments (Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt).

This might have inspired some nostalgia, but the problem is these characters were just deep enough to make viewers get through the sequences between dinosaur encounters. It doesn't help that Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael don't give the same zingers that David Koepp wrote in the first film.

Goldblum's blend of sobering cynicism and wisecracks sounds pretty hollow here, and having Pratt refer to the ravenous lizard chasing him as a popular synonym for anus seems like a weak substitute.

Campbell Scott plays Lewis Dodgson, a biotech executive who promises to make medical advances while also protecting the creatures from harm.

Even the dinosaurs can tell he's up to no good.

Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern) discovers that prehistoric genes have made grasshoppers grow to the size of dachshunds and in the process devastate crops throughout the country.

Because Dodgson is pretty much the only person who has access to the dino DNA, the origin of the new plague isn't a mystery. Of course, she also needs Alan Grant (Neill) and Ian Malcolm (Goldblum).

Meanwhile, raptor whisperer Owen Grady (Pratt) and former Jurassic World executive Claire Dearing (Howard) have been secretly raising human clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), but she is being hunted just like some of the dinosaurs. When Maisie and a baby raptor both get kidnapped, her adoptive parents search the globe trying to find both.

The end result is a motorcycle chase in Malta that involves a few stray lizards and Claire and geneticist Henry Wu (BD Wong) seeking redemption. With the two competing and later interlocking storylines, we never get to know the people long enough to care if they reach their goals.

It's hard to care if the humans get in touch with their feelings when the creatures are more fun. In my audience, the crowd was telling Goldblum to stop preaching so we could see more apex predators fighting.

The later Jurassic movies simply aren't that much fun because at this point the dinosaurs have already proved themselves more worthy of attention than the invasive humans.

‘Jurassic World Dominion’

76 Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott, BD Wong

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action, some violence and language

Running time: 2 hours, 26 minutes

Playing theatrically


  photo  They’re cute at that age: Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) plays with a baby Nasutoceratops as Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) looks on in “Jurassic World Dominion,” which was co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.

Print Headline: Fossilized film


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