The "Jurassic Park" saga that began back in 1993 finally (and thankfully) limps to its final resting place with its sixth and final chapter, "Jurassic World Dominion."
Gone is the wonderment, the magic of Spielberg's original blockbuster, which in my eyes remains a ground-shattering, masterpiece of popcorn cinema. "Jurassic World Dominion" reduces this franchise to a bland whirlwind of CG, barely containing any remnant of DNA (pun intended) from that first "Jurassic Park" film.
It's fast-paced but bland, familiar but unrecognizable. The intelligence behind the eyes of the franchise is gone, and it's been dumbed-down to swim in the same gene pool as a "Transformers" movie (not a compliment).
If you liked the last, nearly unwatchable mess of a film, "Fallen Kingdom," then you may not mind "Jurassic World Dominion." However, a "Jurassic" film is not supposed to be your average action movie. The bar was set high from the very start, and the audience frankly deserves more, having now been served - in my estimation - four terrible follow-ups with one diamond buried in the middle (I had lots of love for "Jurassic World," but not much for any of the other Jurassic movies since the original).
"Jurassic World Dominion" continues the story and brings back characters from all of the previous films, yet is so poorly written and crafted that they all feel disposable. There is so little chemistry between Raptor-trainer, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), yet the filmmakers continue to push their relationship forward. Original heroes Alan (Sam Neill) and Ellie (Laura Dern) - as well as eccentric author Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) - are swept up in the nonsense, without any real sense of purpose and little explanation.
I love Sam Neill, but he seems lost in this movie...the only one of the actors who visibly seemed perplexed as to what the hell his character was even doing there in the first place. And we all know that Chris Pratt is a charming, funny guy, yet none of that comes through his character of Owen. Then there's DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie and Isabella Sermon - along with the corporate bad guy played by Campbell Scott - all thrown in as well, none of which stand-out in any way.
This is a movie about dinosaurs, and it takes a good 30 minutes for us to see any enter the story. This first portion of the film takes way too long to set things in motion, and again is so poorly constructed that we are given no emotional stakes. The film ends with a brief message about "coexisting" and learning to live with one another...had the movie tried to focus on that, there may have been something to it, but slapping a message on the end of a generic dinosaur action thriller as if to disguise the whole thing as "thoughtful" or "highbrow" is just another example of how the filmmaker's underestimate and under-value their audience.
Perhaps it is impossible to match the sense of excitement and wonder that the first film brought. Seeing life-like dinosaurs was a new experience back in 1993, but we've since been desensitized to nearly everything. This was a better argument a few weeks ago, before "Top Gun: Maverick" proved that there still was a way to magically connect an audience with a movie on a big-screen. "Jurassic World Dominion," while marginally better than "Fallen Kingdom," feels like another money-grab...it's clear they "needed another Jurassic movie" instead of the story "needing to be told." There is a difference.
Some action pieces work, but most feel generic in today's day and age. All of it comes across as limp because there are no stakes and no characters that we care about. I'm sorry, but cheaply inserting the Jurassic Park theme music every time Neill, Dern or Goldblum appear on screen does not make me well up with nostalgia, it made me shake my head in annoyance. Also, where the dinosaurs were surprisingly deadly in the first movie, there are at least 10 (and maybe more) instances where a dinosaur simply opens his mouth, shows his teeth and wails, instead of just attacking like you'd think would be more natural. When these creatures in this film do attack, they have the deadly accuracy of a Star Wars Stormtrooper.
"Jurassic World Dominion" is proof that this franchise's magic went extinct along time ago, and that they simply have nothing more to say. Let's hope this is the last go-around for this old fossil of a film franchise.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi.
Run Time: 2 hours 26 minutes.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Isabella Sermon, BD Wong, Mamoudou Athie, Daniella Pineda.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow ("The Book of Henry," "Jurassic World," "Safety Not Guaranteed").
"Jurassic World Dominion" is in theaters everywhere on Friday, June 10th, 2022.
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