‘Dominion’ is, we can hope, the last ‘Jurassic World’ movie
The sixth trip back to the prehistoric gene pool comes up dry in Jurassic World: Dominion, a movie too plump with all its wide-eyed franchise characters to focus on truly alarming dinosaur thrills. The Brobdingnagian beasts of 65 million years ago now roam the entire earth—a pterosaur is even nesting on top of One World Trade Center! And somehow we should be more invested in the will-they-won’t-they reunion of paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill)? Or whether Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) can keep their rebellious adopted clone daughter Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) from sneaking out of the house and getting kidnapped by poachers sent from nefarious bioengineers? To quote droll chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum): “That’s…bananas.”
JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION ★★ (2/5 stars)
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Emily Carmichael & Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, B.D. Wong, Omar Sy, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott
Running time: 146 mins
This latest installment in the billion-dollar franchise seems to give up on its own narrative within the opening minutes, when it falls back on a light-hearted anonymous news-adjacent narrator describing how dinosaurs are now in our world and yet only kill a few dozen people every year. Seriously? Fewer people than car accidents and cigarettes? The lady voiceover then explains that a massively-funded conglomerate called Biosyn Genetics has somehow purchased the “exclusive rights” to dinosaurs—bought from whom, and for how much, exactly?—so apparently has sole ownership over all of them. Suck it, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos! In doing so, Biosyn has somehow mostly gathered up the Cretaceous Period’s storied terrible lizards from all over and deposited them in a secret sanctuary in the Dolomite mountains. Hope the Italians were okay with them gathering all these destructive beasts in the heart of Europe, but whatever.
Biosyn, which a skeevy-looking Campbell Scott runs in Tim Cook cosplay, has big plans to use the dinosaur’s ancient immune systems for new pharmaceuticals that will cure humanity’s ailments. But really, because Jurassic Park/World movies are all about evil, amoral, capitalistically rapacious corporations, Biosyn covertly uses them to develop enormous prehistoric locusts who have already started to ravage all crops not grown with Biosyn’s genetically modified seeds. Think Monsanto, but with massive killer insects. Anyway, the entire food system will collapse in a matter of months unless Malcom helps Ellie get a DNA sample from the Biosyn Sanctuary to expose Biosyn’s greed to the world. Um, sure? Also, chronically shady geneticist with a chronically troubled conscience Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong, chronically back again) has some fancy genetic solution to killing all the chihuahua-sized locusts, which frankly might be more practical than Sattler’s self-righteous DNA sample exposé.
Point is, there’s a goddamned pterosaur flying around New York City and shitting all over Manhattan! But instead Jurassic World: Dominion sticks us in some hi-tech lair in the Dolomites watching the original Jurassic Park cast play geriatric amateur-spy shenanigans as they aim to steal Sub-Level 6 lab secrets. Meanwhile, Owen and Claire go on a wild goose chase tracking down Maisie to an illicit underworld dinosaur bazaar on Malta populated by a smuggler-with-a-conscience Han Solo type (DeWanda Wise), a sinister off-brand Eurasian Vanessa Kirby (Dichen Lachman) who wears stilettos and billowy white blouses while training velociraptors with a laser pointer, and Omar Sy as a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him member of the CIA’s Dangerous Species Division.
All of our heroes and heroines converge at Biosyn’s Dolomite Sanctuary, where, yes, the dinosaurs get loose and wreak havoc while everyone runs around getting safely menaced.Even worse, they stick together in a comically large group while roaring apex predators like a giganotosaurus and some odd feathered whatzit with Freddy Kruger claws called a therizinosaurus do their best to maul everything in their general direction. Fans of the original film will smile smugly at the return of the Barbasol can and death by dilophosaurus, those wing-necked weirdos who spit tar-colored shit into their victim’s faces. Although, after making it through the ungodly bloat of this lively but exhausting sequel, the audience might feel like some of that spit landed on them as well.