Jurassic World: Dominion **
One Liner Review:
An okay entry, this one doesn’t have much in the ways of real scares or storyline, but it does bring back all of the original members, which is nice.
Jurassic World: Dominion is an okay movie. The reality is that since the very first Jurassic Park movie, not a single one of the sequels has been able to capture the same kind of magic. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of the big ones has to be using CGI instead of animatronics and practical effects. The original film did use CGI as well, only nothing like this. These days, everything is CGI and that definitely takes some of the thrill and believability away. Still, Jurassic World, the first in the Chris Pratt series, managed to be entertaining. The sequels, including this one, have fallen short of that first entry. In this movie, we get the original cast members returning and reuniting for the very first time, but that only goes so far. The movie brings in some new, cool dinosaurs, but the storylines feel forced and thrown together and that is definitely a problem.
The Jurassic World movies have definitely run out of steam. Just like the original Jurassic Park series, only the first movie in the trilogy was good. Back in 1993, thirty years ago, Steven Spielberg took the book by Michael Chrichton, about a place where these dinosaurs could roam freely or be locked in cages, like a zoo, and made it into a thrilling masterpiece. The next two movies in the Jurassic Park series brought us back to the park, but could not capture the same scares or emotions. And then we got the Jurassic World series. The first movie showed us what the park would look like if it was fully operational. And it was pretty cool. But after that first film, they found themselves with no story left to tell, and two other movies to make in order to cash in on the first films success.
The last movie before this one, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom was about rescuing the dinos from the island where the park was, and which now has an erupting volcano, and then about an auction where dinosaurs were being sold to bidders. You literally had dinosaurs running around a mansion in the second half of the movie. It was an idea that was so stupid, you had to wonder if it was intentionally dumb, like Snakes on a Plane… Dinosaurs in a mansion. Then this new sequel, Jurassic World: Dominion, is about a science research facility where dinos roam freely and where some very illegal experiments are going on.
This was supposed to be the movie that showed us what it would be like if dinosaurs roams the earth alongside humans and coexisted with them. That’s what director Colin Trevarrow kept saying. And being that he directed the first Jurassic World movie and told us that film would be the one to show us what the park looked like in its fully operational form, and was telling the truth that time, it would make sense to believe him this time as well. Only this time, Trevarrow was not being honest. This movie was not about dinos and humans coexisting.
Maybe that was the movie that Trevarrow wanted to make, but then had to cut a whole ton out for time, and that ton was mostly these scenes from the first half of the film. The closest we get to seeing anything like this is when a branchiosaurus walks through a construction site and everyone just stops working and watches. Apparently there was supposed to be a scene of a T-Rex showing up at a drive-in movie theater as well (the scene made it into the trailers, but not into the actual movie.) And there are plenty of other ideas that would have been cool. Dinosaurs outside of a school with kids watching from the windows of their classroom, or showing up near the playground during recess time. Dinos on the airport runway.
But the movie does none of these, and that’s because it is trying to cram too many other plots into this one film. We have one storyline and mission that involves Chris Pratt (Owen,) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire,) and then another storyline and mission that involves Sam Neil (Alan Grant) and Laura Dern (Ellie Sadler.) And it’s fine to have two different storylines, so long as they connect into one larger picture. In this movie, they really don’t. Yes, the characters all find themselves together in the end, but their missions have very little, if anything, to do with each other.
The first storyline is about Owen and Claire. They have a daughter living with them who is actually a clone. Apparently this is a continuation off the last movie, but that movie was so bad that very few of us remember it, or would care enough to go back and watch it again. Apparently there was a girl who was a clone in the last movie, and now at the start of this film, Owen and Claire have adopted her.. something to that effect. And there’s an evil tycoon, the man who run that scientific research center, Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott,) who wants her kidnapped. He wants to study her DNA. And so he sends a team to kidnap her. Now, of course, this has nothing to do with dinosaurs. To make it seem like it does, this team also kidnaps one of the dinos. Apparently Dodgson wanted both. Why in the world he needed another dinosaur when his facility is crawling with them makes no sense at all, but it gives the movie a dino chase early on, so that is the very forced and unnecessary purpose of the scene.
While all this is going on, there’s a whole other storyline involving giant wasps that show up in massive groups and attack farms. Ellie Sadler is called in to get to the bottom of this, and she notices that the wasps only attack certain kinds of farms. Any farm that uses Dodgson’s products for growing crops, is left untouched. Talk about obvious. If you’re the guy creating these wasps would you really make it so crystal clear that they are leaving your product alone, and therefore pointing the finger directly at yourself for being responsible? And like the kidnapped girl story, this has nothing to do with dinosaurs. But it does get Ellie Sadler back in touch with Alan Grant, and the two of them go off to investigate the giant wasps problem together.
All roads lead about to Dodgson, of course, but it takes a long while for us to get there. First, these is a sequence in a foreign country where smugglers have captured dinosaurs and are shipping them out to Dodgson’s facility. Owen and Claire find themselves at this cargo shipment center, trying to locate their daughter. And we end up getting scenes of dinosaurs chasing Owen on a motorcycle, chasing Claire in the back of a mini-van, and generally roaming around trying to eat people. At times the sequence feels a little like the Jason Bourne movies in the way that is is filmed with handheld cameras that throw you right in there, and that’s pretty cool, but as far as what these scenes contribute to the story, the answer is absolutely nothing.
Speaking of the story, this movie might feature some of the dumbest ideas of the entire six movie franchise. This guy Dodgson is really kidnapping a girl from her parents at the same time as he kidnaps dinosaurs and has giant wasps being harvested to kill off crops on his competitors farms? Why aren’t the police or FBI on this guy’s case? There’s a cool idea to connect this to the first movie and make Dodgson be the guy who Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight,) was working for in that original film. But there’s not enough to show the connection. Really just the can of shaving creaml that Nedry was using to sneak embryos out, and not a whole lot more. Easter eggs and references to original films are all the rage these days, and the idea to connect this movie to the first one could have really worked if it was just handled better. For example, how about bring Wayne Knight back for a cameo and show a flashback or two between him and Dodgson?
There are things that work about this movie and things that don’t. The dinosaurs look great, as always, and this movie has the good sense to give us a couple of dinosaurs that we have never seen before. These include one that runs on ice and has feathers, another that has giant claws like wolverine, and a gigiosaurus, which we keep hearing is the largest carnivore in the world. Seeing the original cast members reunite and also interact with the newer members is fun. And the few connections to the original film with that Dodgson – Nedry storyline are interesting, but just could have been handled better. That being said, the actual story ideas here behind the villain and his motivation and how it drives the missions of our protagonists, is all pretty dumb. This is definitely not a good movie or a smart movie, but it’s okay. At the end of the day, story definitely matters and they should have taken more time to develop this one.