‘I’ ON CULTURE
I loved the original Jurassic Park. The first moment we saw the dinosaurs, seemed to even feel the thump of their legs coming down on the ground, was movie magic. The story was exciting. But then came the sequels, each one not nearly as good as the previous one. Jurassic World: Dominion is supposed to be the last, and that is good. The special effects are better than the early movies, but the script is terribly muddled, and the movie is probably about 40 minutes too long.
What the film does is to bring back the OGs (“old guys”) Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum to bring some gravitas and good reminiscences to the more recent heroes Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. And there are some “wink-wink” moments when bits from the old movies pop up. But it still does not make up for a script with enormous holes in it.
Taking place about four years after the previous film in the series, the narrator tells us that man and the dinos now can live and work together. But right from the start, there are problems. Football-sized prehistoric locusts are destroying crops… all except those using specially designed seeds from company Biosyn. Botanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern) is suspicious and asks old friend Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) to come with her to visit Biosyn, where old comrade Dr. Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) is the resident “philosopher.” In the meantime, Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Howard) live off by themselves with their adopted daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who is a clone of the little girl from the first movie and who somehow has something special in her DNA that could save the world. As a result, they stay in hiding from Biosyn’s evil boss Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), who was (using a different actor) the guy who smuggled out embryos in a shaving cream can in the first film. They kidnap Maisie, as well as the baby of Owen’s companion dinosaur Blue.
Not surprisingly, all the good guys, with a couple of additions, most notably pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) wind up at Biosyn after battling human and dino assassins, plus some actual huge dinosaurs, in the preserve surrounding Biosyn. After getting assistance from Ian Malcolm, who is there undercover, and another spy, all the good guys go through a harrowing escape, chased by bad guys and assorted nasty cretaceous specimens.
The action moves quickly, but it is apparent all through the film that the good guys will survive. As a result, we can enjoy the special effects without having much in the way of real emotions.
The acting was OK, not surprising considering both the quality of the cast and the limited amount of emoting required for the parts. Pratt was less over the top than in the past, and that helped. Howard was probably the best, allowed to really show emotions and do some actual action. Goldblum did Goldblum as usual. Dern was always on point, and director Colin Trevorrow constantly had shots of Neill, head forward and squinting into the camera, just as he did in the first movie. BD Wong, the scientist from the first film, was allowed two of the few dramatic moments, first as he talked with Maisie about her mother and later as he begged for a chance at redemption. Wise brought some outside fun and energy to the screen when she was shown. Scott was an interesting villain, seemingly all evil — and then unable to function at all as soon as the chips were down.
But, aside from more nudges from the past, this was simply a chase film. The original film focused on the danger of unhinged science, as systems designed not to fail all collapsed. Now we have to believe that politicians would allow obviously dangerous creatures to wander around without doing anything to protect citizens and would allow dangerous, big companies and labs to experiment with things that could cause harm. Could you believe something like that? Having lived through the 30 years past the first film, I wonder how fictional that idea is.
The film is not really bad, but it is not all that good. Many people have already seen it, and even more will come, which means they liked it. There were dinosaurs, and they were very well done. But they were more interesting than the people.