By Lynn Venhaus
The sixth and final installment of the “Jurassic” series is ridiculous, weird, and messy.

 In a new era, dinosaurs now live and hunt alongside humans all over the world. Four years after Isla Nublar was destroyed and this fragile balance has reshaped people’s lives, there’s another threat. The original trio starring in the movie that started it all in 1993 joins the cast of “Jurassic World” for “Dominion.”

Far too long at 2 hours and 26 minutes, two plots struggle to make sense with little connection, chemistry, and concern. Boring and repetitive, not only does the story not grab hold, but loses steam quickly.

Bad ideas abound in this screenplay co-written by Emily Carmichael and director Colin Trevorrow, with story by Derek Connolly and Trevorrow. He also helmed the overstuffed and head-scratching “Jurassic World” in 2015. He did not return for the second instalment, “Fallen Kingdom,” for J.A. Bayona was at the helm in 2018. That story set up this sequel – involving governments capturing the dinosaurs, the evil black market and big bad Biosyn.

Oscillating in tone because of sprawling set pieces that take us to the Sierra Mountains in Nevada, the dusty farmland of west Texas, an exotic Malta location where it briefly resembles a James Bond spy thriller, and the Dolemite Mountains in Italy, the film sputters in giving us too many characters in what quickly becomes a convoluted and dense storyline trying to tie the two trilogies together.

Chris Pratt as Owen Grady

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, the manufactured couple who survived the previous two “Jurassic World” movies, are protecting the cloned granddaughter of “Jurassic Park” owner John Hammond – but evil dudes lurk in the shadows ready to pounce. They have formed a de facto family out in the wilderness — but Maisie (Isabella Sermon) is 14 and rebellious. You know what’s going to happen before you see the cartoonish Bond-like thugs appear.

Meanwhile, it is a welcome sight to reunite paleontologists Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) with chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) 29 years after the sensational original “Jurassic Park.”

While all fine actors and apparent good sports, they can only do so much saddled with this everything and the kitchen sink plot – let’s add megalomaniac mastermind Lewis Dodgson, played by Campbell Scott, in the cookie-cutter mold of Steve Jobs, which is now a villain requirement of every blockbuster-comic book movie.

Dodgson’s nefarious Biosyn Genetics, which won the contract to shelter the dinosaurs at their compound in the Dolemite Mountains, is the source of impending doom because their genetically engineered locusts are creating a plague that will ruin the world’s eco-system. Enter his partner in crime, mad scientist Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong,) a character in several installments, who has a new twist to reveal.

So, it becomes a race against time as the three old-school science nerds gather evidence to take the corporate behemoth down all the while raptor handler Owen Grady and his lady love Claire Dearing, former manager of the Jurassic World theme park, try to rescue their daughter.

Oh, wait – there are dinosaurs in this movie! You might be curious about these hulking prehistoric genetically engineered beasts that now roam the earth again, but don’t exactly live in harmony with the humans.

The fact that they attempt to convince you this rather alarming occurrence is a good thing defies logic. Seriously, I already questioned the sanity of returning over and over to that island – I mean, it’s like the cast of “Lost” going back. Do you not remember what happened the last time? Of course they’re going to wreak havoc, and it’s even more ludicrous.

What started out as director Steven Spielberg’s dazzling, magnificent achievement of landmark computer-generated images, Oscar-winning visual effects and a genuinely frightening science-fiction disaster story from Michael Crichton’s bestselling novel “Jurassic Park” in 1993 has been reduced to repetitive gimmicks in the successive ones..

Trevorrow, in another example of lazy filmmaking, gives us more shots of sharp-toothed dinosaurs nipping at the heels of our escaping heroes over and over and over again.

Remember how good Owen was at training raptors? They go to that well again, adding more for multiple chase scenes and concocting a preposterous pet-like story thread home on the range.

Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing

However, one of the earlier set pieces is a high-octane thrill as “thoroughbred” atrociraptors are unleashed and in hot pursuit of Owen on a motor-scooter.

“Dominion” is not going to let us go without a big apex predator battle reminiscent of Godzilla vs. King Kong.

But this method of throwing every conceivable obstacle in the paths of the righteous gang turns dull and butt-numbing. Snow, ice, oceans, lakes, mountains, planes, trains, jeeps, helicopters, parachutes, science laboratories and amber mines – what could go wrong?

By nature of green screen acting, the cast is on the run most of the film, but the women do fare better than expected. At least Howard is no longer running in heels and Dern has sensible athletic shoes on throughout.

Supporting players DeWanda Wise as fearless pilot Kayla Watts and Mamoudou Athie as brilliant scientist Ramsay Cole, Dodgson’s right-hand man, are appealing additions.

“Jurassic World: Dominion” is unfortunately being released after worldwide panic during the coronavirus pandemic, and let’s just acknowledge it’s a strange juncture in history, With the rough navigation of the past two years, do I really want to be worried about dinosaurs in my backyard? No thank you to another source of nightmares.

How even more chaotic could the world be? Turns out a lot. Not sure I want to go there, for it isn’t the escape most summer tentpoles position themselves to be.

The legacy characters work, but the centerpiece second trilogy headliners struggle to find footing. Pratt and Howard have little chemistry, but genuinely convey parental concern for Maisie. Likeable Pratt seems to be there merely to stare but Howard has more heavy-lifting to do, wiggling out of jams that require great physical prowess.

Do not think too hard about the mind-boggling lapses in judgment here. Crichton was right to end his journey with “The Lost World.”

“Jurassic World: Dominion” is cinematic junk, a tired cash grab that will go down as the worst in the six-movie franchise. And please refrain from visiting that well again, for it has dried up like the DNA in the fossils.

“Jurassic World Dominion” is a 2022 action, adventure, science fiction, thriller directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern and Sam Neill. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, some violence and language, it runs 2 hours, 26 minutes. In theaters June 10. Lynn’s Grade: D

Blue and Beta

By Lynn Venhaus
In the grand tradition of summer blockbusters, the action-packed sci-fi thriller “The Tomorrow War” arrives in the new world on the home screen – Amazon Prime, to be exact.

While these kinds of digital visual effects and high-octane combat sequences are best-suited for a large screen — remember “Independence Day” on the holiday weekend in 1996? – this ‘90s-throwback film will be a crowd-pleaser with the charming everyman Chris Pratt leading the way.

It’s Christmastime 2022, and during a televised world soccer game, a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 with an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against deadly alien invaders. To save the human race, soldiers and civilians in present time are drafted to be transported to the future for seven-day duty.

Joining the fight are Pratt as family man and high school teacher Dan Forester, who teams up with a brilliant scientist from Romeo Command (Yvonne Strahovski) and other draftees to save the world and rewrite the fate of the past.

Pratt is naturally in his wheelhouse – a veteran soldier, now a loving husband and father and high school biology teacher, whose leadership skills bolster the impossible fight against these relentless “white spikes.”

The vicious teeth-and-tentacles enemies are swift beasts, designed like a multi-limbed puma/wild dog hybrid with reptile features, not unlike prehistoric creatures. Visually, they are disgusting, and when harmed, burst with icky goo oozing out. They aren’t all that original looking, and neither are the video-game effects.

Most of the ordinary humans are helpless against these hulking packs, who are everywhere. But not Pratt, the scientific military minds in the field – and his ragtag assortment of supporting characters.

The group he is attached to in training camp turns out to have interesting backstories and personalities to make their bond strong. Actors Sam Richardson, terrific as talkative Charlie, Edwin Hodge (Aldis’ brother) as tough but glum Dorian and sarcastic, anxious Norah (Mary Lynn Rajskub) become fierce fighters.

Ever-reliable Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, as Dan’s estranged father and a rogue techie, joins the group on a perilous mission – but that’s another subplot.

There are several plotlines going on – with significant twists – to keep the story humming, even if it resembles other sci-fi dystopian thrillers with similar villains. And despite the multiple threads, there is surprising emotional depth in a few characters.

Screenwriter Zach Dean, who wrote one of my favorite under-the-radar atypical thrillers called “Deadfall” in 2012, has mixed the explosions with a sturdier story, no matter how generic it looks.

Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski

However, it is still time travel, which always makes my head hurt, so it’s best not to think too hard about the back-and-forth jumping. When it gets too crazy in regular logic, just enjoy the performances.

Pratt, after starring in “Jurassic World” and “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” embodies both the brawny action hero dedicated to saving lives and the likable guy-next-door committed to his wife and daughter. He is more serious here than jaunty, but capable of shouldering the dilemmas.

Betty Gilpin portrays his wife with a furrowed brow, and the exceptional Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who played young Gloria Steinem in “The Glorias” and is in the new “Black Widow,” is impressive as daddy’s girl Muri, a whip-smart 8-year-old.

The women integral to the mission stand out — Yvonne Strahovski, Emmy nominee for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is compelling as the brainy scientist racing against time, and Justine Matthews is forceful as officer-in-charge Lt. Hart.

Director Chris McKay, Emmy winner for “Robot Chicken” who helmed the delightful “The Lego Batman Movie,” confidently makes his live-action debut. He may seem an unlikely choice for such a big visual-effect extravaganza, but he has smoothly guided the action – and not at the sacrifice of story.

Composer Lorne Balfe, who has scored the recent “Mission Impossible” films and has specialized in tentpole action films, provides the requisite bombast.

While the film doesn’t stray from the usual archetype of doomsday adventures, there is a noticeable oomph that is unexpected. Sure, the movie checks all the boxes in the successful blockbuster formula but is unique enough to be worth a look during these pandemic times.

That certainly helps because it is a 2 hour and 20-minute commitment. But the cast is what elevates it beyond the same-old, same-old.

Jasmine Matthews

“The Tomorrow War” is an action sci-fi thriller directed by Chris McKay and stars Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Jasmine Mathews, Edwin Hodge and Ryan Kiera Armstrong.
Rated: PG-13 for some suggestive references/action/language/intense sci-fi violence, the run time is 2 hours, 20 minutes. Streaming on Amazon Prime starting July 2. Lynn’s Grade: B-