“This isn’t about us.” The words come late — far too late — to Jurassic World Dominion, an unimaginably long-winded farewell to at least this phase of a blockbuster franchise that’s long overdue to die out. The narrator makes an obvious point (it’s about the dinosaurs, dumbass), but also quite disingenuous in the context.
Once upon a time in a Michael Crichton-loving era—exactly 29 summers ago—when Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park smashed the box office—these giant prehistoric reptiles effortlessly aroused our collective awe, horror, and wonder. But those days now feel as far away as the late Cretaceous era, and this sixth installment in the series, ostensibly yet another cautionary tale from Mother Nature, feels terribly human-centric and people-driven. For better and for worse, it is about us.
In practical terms, this means you’ll spend much of the film’s 147-minute running time watching seven or eight co-protagonists roam around another mad scientist’s dinosaur farm, where bioethical boundaries are once again being pushed and safety precautions taken to doomed to fail.
Chris Pratt is back as genius raptor whisperer Owen Grady, as is Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire, who defends his dino rights. The more exciting news, if it can be called news, is that Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum are reuniting for the first time since 1993’s ‘Jurassic Park’ – a fan-service coup that defies the grim reality of how little, almost compensated they were given to do.
From a narrative perspective, the most important character here is Owen and Claire’s adopted daughter, Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the 13-year-old product of a human cloning experiment whose precious genetic code may hold the key to human survival. And survival is key now that dinosaurs have breached their various man-made barriers and migrated across the planet.
After the unrelenting claustrophobia of the previous 2018 film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, there is some relief to see these creatures free to roam the planet they once ruled; Behold the majestic sight of a friendly, wrinkled Apatosaurus, seemingly tasting snow for the first time.
That striking image aside, it’s a serious new world indeed. Fishing boats are capsized by creatures from below. Winged pteranodons charge from above without warning, and it is a pterrible sight indeed.
A well-funded biotech company called Biosyn has pitched in to provide the dinosaurs with a high-tech mountain sanctuary, and in case you thought that was a good thing, the company is run by an eccentric megalomaniac (a perfectly sizzling Campbell Scott ), whose name, Lewis Dodgson, will be remembered by any Jurassic Park fan. And as if all that weren’t enough, a plague of giant genetically engineered locusts has taken over farms and fields, threatening to wipe out most of the world’s food supply.
Maybe my entomophobia is talking, but in a movie about dinosaurs, it’s funny how it takes a swarm of oversized insects to evoke even the slightest case of shudders. Still, Jurassic World Dominion will hold your attention for a while, and less insultingly than 2015’s Jurassic World franchise reboot, a flimsy, hugely profitable foray into blockbuster filmmaking for its director Colin Trevorrow.
After contributing to the slightly superior Fallen Kingdom in 2018, Trevorrow is back at the helm of Dominion and determined to create his own nostalgic clone of some great old-fashioned Spielberg entertainment.
It’s a tall order, but Trevorrow and his co-writer Emily Carmichael initially do a useful job of keeping the story’s many unwieldy bits in distracting motion. Much of the first half plays out like a world-spanning spy thriller, involving Owen and Claire in a kidnapping, a snooze with birds of prey, car chases through the streets of Malta, and a glimpse of the ever-expanding dinosaur black market. which unfortunately isn’t called “Dinos ‘R’ Us”.
The genre template is obvious, but for a Jurassic arc it’s almost novel. It also creates the movie’s one vaguely exciting sequence, in which Owen, a couple of friendly-sounding Atrociraptors, and a rusty plane are piloted by the whip-smart Kayla Watts (a very welcome DeWanda wise).
Meanwhile, the film is busy bringing the original Jurassic Park gang back together by reviving a tentative romance between scientists Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern) and Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) under the least romantic of circumstances (giant genetically engineered locusts!). ) and then ship them to remote Biosyn facilities for covert snooping.
There is a fleeting amusement in these scenes, especially when the original John Williams theme kicks in and that jolly theorist of chaos, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), shows up, ready to joke. But that’s also where the boredom sets in, well before the end, as all the good guys – that’s most of the cast, including Mamoudou Athie as the conflicted Biosyn operative – end up on a long and repetitive collision course in which scene after scene plays out without a joke , excitement or surprise.
OK, that’s not entirely true. It’s surprising, or at least disheartening, to see a nimble actor like Omar Sy (“Lupin”) wasted in a few memorable action scenes. Even sadder is the reduction of a once-proud antagonist, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), on a series of self-flagellation “Oh God. Sorry I started a plague of genetically engineered giant locusts.” Monologues.
Despite all of this, and despite Dodgson’s obvious villainy, “Jurassic World Dominion” at times plays out like a full-length biotech promo, anchored by the sight of young Maisie contemplating her own origins as a child prodigy, and plenty of earnest eulogies about the power of genetic engineering to save us all.
In other words, it’s about us, despite the film’s idiotic Circle of Life-style anthem to the wonders of coexistence between species. And because it’s about us—well, about us and the giant genetically engineered locusts—the dinosaurs themselves become even more irrelevant.
It’s amazing how little tension or even momentary menace Trevorrow can get out of individual action sequences, how tame even t rex appears now in its late franchise dotage. The mix of practical and computer-generated effects used to bring these behemoths to life has come a long way, but their ability to excite and terrify us — let alone make us think for a moment — belongs to the age-old past.
“Jurassic World Dominion”
Valuation: PG-13, for intense action sequences, some violence and language
Duration: 2 hours, 27 minutes
To play: Launches June 10th in general release
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-06-08/jurassic-world-dominion-review ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ review: Overlong, tedious finale