Jurassic World Dominion review: Let's get these dinosaurs to the nearest tar pit

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·3 min read
Jurassic World Dominion review: Let's get these dinosaurs to the nearest tar pit
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If you can train velociraptors not to view you as a snack — just stick out your hand like you're hailing a cab and do a stern shake of your head — then maybe audiences can be trained to forget everything that made Steven Spielberg's original 1993 Jurassic Park such a polished piece of fearmaking. Just a hair away from Jaws, it never let you forget its premise's cautionary sting, even with the theme-park-ification of Hollywood on the rise.

How prehistoric. Jurassic World Dominion (opening June 10), the sixth and, hopefully, final entry in a series of diminishing returns, takes us back to ethics-challenged scientists in remote labs and a general lack of learning from prior installments. Even returning snark source Jeff Goldblum (still looking good in leathers) finds his chaotician Ian Malcolm, once a reliable cynic, installed as the in-house philosopher at Biosyn, one of these secret corporate research facilities that no doubt calls itself a "campus" — he says he's got five mouths to feed. Rarely does selling out come so articulated in the dialogue. Is he the voice of the producers?

Jurassic World Dominion
Jurassic World Dominion

John Wilson/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and DeWanda Wise in 'Jurassic World Dominion'

In Dominion's world, dinosaurs are already among us, perched on city buildings, upsetting wedding ceremonies, and hassling runners on the beach. It's a stupefying intro, suggesting we'd all kinda be okay with this turn of events, somewhere between a drag and a headache. Mystifyingly, the story and screenplay (credited to director Colin Trevorrow and two others, though that can't be everyone) suggests that revived apex predators loose in the wild are the least of our worries. There are giant locusts the size of drones that Biosyn has unleashed to eat non-GMO crops. Ellie (Laura Dern) and Alan (Sam Neill) are on the case — it's one of those movies that climaxes with evidence being turned over to "my contact at the Times."

Elsewhere — specifically in the snowy Sierra Nevadas — Owen (Chris Pratt, he of the raptor-training hand gestures) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) discover that their adopted daughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who's both a directionless teen and, double-whammy, a human clone, has been kidnapped by bad guys who want her genetic code. All roads lead back to Biosyn, presided over by an evil billionaire in a Caesar cut (Campbell Scott), a place where everyone will attempt to look surprised to find themselves in the same fan-serving predicaments of yore, some of them for the second or third time.

Jurassic World Dominion
Jurassic World Dominion

Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Even though you'll recognize many of those moments (crouching behind a car while a T-Rex sniffs around; Goldblum hoisting a distracting torch, etc.), feelings of nostalgia won't be as forthcoming as a sense of box-ticking. The dutifulness is made worse by some unnecessarily junked-up action scenes, underlit and overhashed by editing. A black-market chase in Malta gives Trevorrow the opportunity to restage that jump-through-the-window moment from The Bourne Ultimatum — did you ever want to see a digitized raptor execute the stunt instead of Matt Damon?

Even with the original cast on board, there's surprisingly little chemistry or humor, and the movie makes repeated pit stops to stress family values: "Do you guys have kids?" Maisie asks Alan and Ellie, both of them no doubt tired of fielding that question, especially when fleeing from carnivores. Some of the new dinos have red feathers, a cute touch, but there's little of the wonderment of the first film, barring an image of a sad bronto at a logging site. It's the kind of listless enterprise out of which a savvy actor can sometimes pop: DeWanda Wise, playing a daring pilot, is basically starring in a one-woman Raiders of the Lost Ark in her head. Let's get that concept to the sequel writers stat, before they build another theme park. Grade: C–

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