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 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.
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
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.